Feathered Bastard

Florence "Evaluating" Purchase of Johnson Utilities, while AZ CorpCom Treats It Like a Done Deal

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ACC spokeswoman Rebecca Wilder confirmed that commissioners and staff had met with Johnson Utilities concerning the possible sale of the company.

Earlier, Wilder had informed me that the CorpCom will have to approve any sale of Johnson Utilities.

I called Florence Vice Mayor Tom Smith to ask him what he thought of people talking about the Johnson Utilities deal as if it were in the bag.

He did not agree with that analysis.

"At the present time, we're just looking into it," he said, adding, "It has to go in front of the council. It hasn't gone in front of the council."

Regarding the purchase price, he said, "Nothing's been agreed upon."

I wondered if he had concerns about the possible deal. He said he did but declined to be specific.

"I'm waiting for all of our reports to get back on the infrastructure, the whole thing," he said. "Until I get that back, I won't make a decision on anything."

One source privy to the inner workings of Florence Town Hall claimed that the deal is driven by Florence Mayor Tom Rankin, who was profiled in the three-part series I co-authored with my colleague Monica Alonzo, "Florence Exposed."

This source, who asked to remain anonymous, suggested that town manager Charles Montoya does Rankin's bidding and is helping move the deal along, despite worries some have about it.

For instance, as detailed in the recent cover story "Rankin's Law," Rankin and George Johnson have long supported each other.

Rankin has been known to play cheerleader for whatever Johnson wants, such as earlier this year, when Rankin urged the town council to grant Johnson the right to convey water to an undeveloped part of Florence, because Johnson was planning a development there.

The council complied, approving the deal in a 5-2 vote.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons