More County Squabbling: Treasurer Sues County Leaders, Claiming His Office is Being Stripped of Money (and Therefore, Power)

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Maricopa County Treasurer Charles "Hos" Hoskins has finally carried through on a threat he made back in December to sue the county again. Hoskins already has a lawsuit pending against the county regarding the alleged swiping of his office's IT equipment.

Hoskins believes drastic budget cuts imposed by the county are making it impossible to conduct his legislated duties as an elected official. The claims of the treasurer, who won a four-year term in November, sound an awful lot like those of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Like the sheriff, Hoskins is squabbling over computers, money and authority.

The new lawsuit outlines the complaint and asks for special actions. Hoskins wants:

*A budget of "no less than $3,410,000, which is the minimum amount required to allow the Treasurer to perform his statutory duties;"

*The ability to hire two cashiers, two accountants and a "resolution specialist."

*The ability to spend money without always needing approval from the county's budget department. Hoskins says no other elected official in the county needs such approval but him.

*The reimbursement to the treasurer's office for all legal fees related to the lawsuit.

This is what months of feuding between county officials has gotten us: Budget negotiations via taxpayer-funded lawsuits.

In a letter from Hoskins to the Board of Supervisors obtained by New Times today, the treasurer practically apologizes for including the supervisors in his suit. He says this is all the fault of those whipping posts for the sheriff's office, County Manager David Smith and Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson.

In another move that parallels actions by the Sheriff's Office, Hoskins calls for Smith and Wilson to be removed from their posts.

Man, things get ugly in a bad recession, don't they?

Hoskins' letter follows:

August 24, 2009

Max Wilson, Chairman Maricopa County Board of Supervisors 301 W. Jefferson, 10th Floor Phoenix, AZ 85003

Dear Max:

I have made every effort to resolve my budget and personnel issues with OMB without success. Without going into detail, I will simply state that David Smith and Sandi Wilson have consistently demonstrated such a high level of unreasonableness that further efforts on my part would be a waste of time.

This matter has gone on far too long and I see no other option but to take legal action to protect the integrity of my elected office. A copy of the lawsuit that has been filed is attached.

I want you to be fully aware that I consider the root cause of all of my issues with the Board stems from the manner in which David Smith and Sandi Wilson chooses to deal with me as an elected official. They demonstrate little or no respect for the responsibilities I have and deliberately persist in interfering with the operation of my office. They have, in my opinion, manipulated the Board by limiting information or presenting highly slanted information in order to convince you to take certain actions that do little more than empower them to justify their actions against the elected agency heads. As you are surely aware, there is considerable unrest and discontent throughout the County, and I assure you that a close examination by the Board would serve to convince you that it will be an ongoing, never changing, condition as long as David Smith and Sandi Wilson continue in their present positions. Their unreasonable and uncooperative attitudes have fostered an environment that is void of any trust and has cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees.

Please understand that this is NOT an attack on the Board, but a defensive move to protect myself from potential liability resulting from David Smith and Sandi Wilson refusing to provide the minimum level of support that I require to meet my responsibilities. I would offer that the same is true with my other fellow elected officers. We are not attacking you, but defending against your staff's actions to interfere with and/or take over functions within our respective areas or responsibility. Once the Board, and especially David Smith and Sandi Wilson, ceases attempting to pursue what appears to be an agenda to establish a quasi home-rule environment, we can begin to resolve our differences.

I strongly urge the Board to relieve David Smith and Sandi Wilson of their duties and begin working with me to resolve our issues so that I can better perform my job as expected by the citizens of Maricopa County. I hope you and the other members of the Board will be willing to meet with me within the next few days to discuss developing a more professional and respectful working relationship. My assistant will be contacting your offices to schedule the meetings.


Charles "Hos" Hoskins, Treasurer Maricopa County, Arizona

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