Maricopa County Craziness

John Hauskins Ousted as Maricopa County Transportation Chief Over Misconduct Claims

John Hauskins, the award-winning transportation chief for Maricopa County, has been ousted from his job following a series of wide-ranging misconduct allegations.

Hauskins, also the county engineer, submitted a letter of intent to retire from his position on October 9, two days after he was put on paid administrative leave for unknown reasons. The leave followed written counseling letters and reprimands in 2014 and 2013 for alleged mistreatment of a staff member, dishonesty, and incompetence at his job, records obtained by New Times show.

A talented inventor and engineer, the problem stems from Hauskins' management skills rather than technical know-how.

At age 19, Hauskins designed and built the wave-making machine at Tempe's Big Surf water park. He was hired as director of the Maricopa County Department of Transportation in 2007 after a 30-year gig at the state Department of Transportation.

In February of 2011, he won a lifetime achievement award from the Arizona Society of Professional Engineers. Hauskins "runs a first-rate Transportation Department and can find a solution to virtually any problem," former County Manager David Smith said at the time of the award.

Two years later, on April 3, 2013, Hauskins received a "written counseling/reprimand" from Deputy County Manager Joy Rich because of a "demeaning" and profanity-laced voice mail he'd left for a subordinate.

Part of the voice mail was left accidentally by Hauskins as he railed against street-construction work, thinking the phone had disconnected. When the staff member was seen crying by others in the department after the voicemail was heard, Hauskins allegedly spread disinformation about the incident, telling other employees the staff member was too sensitive and omitting in his retellings the part where he cussed at the woman intentionally, Rich says in her letter.

"I need you to be at your desk - 80% of the day. Get it? So you can answer the fucking phone," Hauskins told the employee in the recording as part of a longer rant, according to a transcript of the voicemail that was attached to Rich's letter.

After believing he'd hung up his mobile phone, the recording captured Hauskins' talking to himself, cussing and fuming over roadwork and being cut off by a "dumb broad."

Rich told him in the 2013 letter he shouldn't have asked an employee why another employee was on approved Family and Medical Leave Act leave -- and he certainly shouldn't have said about the employee on leave, "it must be a female thing."

Worse, from a budgetary perspective, Hauskins was accused of wasting public resources because he'd been submitting mileage reimbursements for trips around the state in his personal car while his county car sat in a garage, unused. Rich ordered to stop submitting for the reimbursements and instructed him to use the county car, which he could take it home overnight. From then, he was supposed to limit his travel to "only essential meetings."

"In reviewing these (reimbursement) requests, I have reminded you that we must be very aware of the negative perceptions that our customers may develop if you are frequently traveling to accept awards or make presentations while we have operational issues," Rich told him.

A "variety" of operational problems had been uncovered the previous year that had to be addressed with a formal action plan, she reminded him. He was told to apologize to the employee and change his ways.

But in May, County Manager Tom Manos sent him another accusatory letter, saying he'd screwed up royally in dealing with the city of Glendale on a 99th-Avenue construction project. Besides failing to return phone calls and showing up to meetings unprepared, the Glendale city manager complained that Hauskins had been talking behind her back about whether some of the city's staff members were "competent" to handle the project, according to Manos.

"Your inattentiveness to your primary responsibilities ... has seriously compromised your effectiveness in this position," Manos told him in the May 12 letter. "You will disengage from your focus on professional development, networking, and travel opportunities in order that all of your time may be focused on improving your performance."

Failure to shape up, Manos told him, would result in his dismissal. Apparently, this month something caused the county to take action. Sources tell us that county officials "showed him the door" last week.

Hauskins could not be reached for comment.

The county, through spokeswoman Cari Gerchick, declined comment on the matter, citing privacy issues. However, the county responded to a request for any resignation letters or evidence of disciplinary actions. Click on the links below to read the letters from Rich and Manos.

April 2013 letter from Joy Rich to John Hauskins

May 2014 letter from Tom Manos to John Hauskins

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX. Follow Ray Stern on Twitter at @RayStern.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.

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