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12/17/2013 4:56:00 PM
Lobbyist proposal turns into new Mohave County employee
Steven Moss
Steven Moss
Gary Watson
Gary Watson
Travis Lingenfelter hired for new job
KINGMAN - It didn't take long for the Mohave County Board of Supervisors to fill an unadvertised position created despite strong opposition from two Board members at a public meeting the day before.

Travis Lingenfelter was hired Tuesday as a full-time employee for six months to monitor House and Senate bills during the upcoming legislative session and perform other specialized duties. Lingenfelter also will work on environmental issues, special projects, property management and economic development for the county.

Lingenfelter, who will start Dec. 30, will be paid $40,000 for the six months, which will include travel expenses and use of a vehicle for two trips a week to Phoenix. The job includes office space but no benefits, and Lingenfelter will report to Mohave County Administrator Mike Hendrix. The job was not advertised to the public, according to Hendrix, because it is not required for a temporary position.


Kim Steele
Miner Staff Reporter


Correction: The original version of this article said the position comes with benefits, which it does not. There were also changes to the offer from when it was discussed by the supervisors.

KINGMAN - Despite strong opposition from two members, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors agreed Monday to quickly hire a full-time employee for six months who would monitor House and Senate bills during the upcoming legislative session and perform other specialized duties.

The employee also would work on environmental issues, special projects, property management and economic development for the county.

The new hire, who must have a four-year degree and several years of experience, would be paid $40,000, which would include travel expenses and use of a vehicle for two trips a week to Phoenix. The job includes office space but no benefits, and the employee would report to Mohave County Administrator Mike Hendrix.

The issue came up at a Board meeting earlier this month when Supervisor Buster Johnson, District 3, brought up hiring a Phoenix lobbying firm to keep track of House and Senate bills that could negatively impact Mohave County.

But it quickly changed direction after Board Chairman Gary Watson, District 1, said a new county employee could not only monitor bills from here, but handle some of the Board's upcoming special projects and issues.

Supervisors Johnson and Hildy Angius, District 2, voted against hiring a new employee. Supervisors Watson, Joy Brotherton, District 4, and Steve Moss, District 5, voted in favor.

"When this motion was presented by Supervisor Johnson last month, it was for a very specific scope of work to be done down in Phoenix by someone who is connected and knows the process and the people and knows how these things are done there," said Angius. "I never saw this as an in-house position and I have a big problem with that.

"Now the motion has morphed into a big job with pay and benefits and cars and travel. And that is not what I think was the original intent of this."

Earlier, the Board discussed spending about $3,000 a month for a lobbyist for the 180-day legislative session, which begins in January. The county had a lobbyist, Mike Williams & Associates of Phoenix, and paid $75,000 annually to the firm about 12 years ago, but hasn't had one since after the Board and the lobbyist disagreed on issues.

At both Board meetings, Johnson specified that the lobbyist would monitor bills for Mohave County, not go to bat for it.

"When I put this on the agenda, it was just to monitor legislation and nothing else," said Johnson. "Now we're looking at a special projects person. If it was so easy to look on the Internet and follow these bills, we could have been doing it in the past.

"We've had a few bills that have come down from the state that could have cost the county millions of dollars, and I think we need to hire a professional organization out of Phoenix just to work during the legislative session and give us daily updates."

But Moss said he would be more comfortable with an employee who was able to monitor the bills over the Internet and work on other projects for the Board, too.

Moss said that arrangement would save money for the county.

Several Phoenix lobbying firms submitted proposals to the Board before the meeting, asking fees of $30,000 to $50,000 for services during the legislative session, and another firm requested more information so it could customize a quote.

"There is truth to what Supervisor Johnson says and we have been blindsided by legislation that could have potentially cost the taxpayers millions, but for the most part we've been able to minimize spending," said Moss. "I think the real cure is for this Board to be more engaged with our state legislators and for our state legislators to be more engaged with this Board.

"That engagement is what will solve the problem we're trying to deal with, not hiring a lobbyist."

Brotherton agreed, noting she has been hearing from constituents who don't want to spend money on a lobbyist because they believe the Board should be monitoring the bills.

That's an impossibility, said Brotherton, because a legislative session can spawn 1,300 bills or more. Brotherton said she wants someone watching out for Mohave County's interests, but prefers hiring an employee over a lobbyist who doesn't know the county's needs.

"I don't think people understand how many bills are presented and believe the Board can keep an eye on that," said Brotherton. "We watch it as much as we can, but there's a lot of other things we have going on right here in our own district, and we just can't watch everything.

"I do feel like we need to have someone who primarily watches the bills for us."

Johnson said he doesn't believe anyone can tell what's going on in Phoenix and do a good enough job just by watching the Internet.

Johnson said bills change and are rewritten on an hourly basis during the heat of the session and that information is only discussed in the hallways, which means a lobbyist must be there in person each day.

Angius agreed, noting the county's past experience with a lobbyist shouldn't color future interaction.

"We've been burned several times, and it's not the fault of anyone or how they are doing their job," said Angius. "It's just the nature of the business of how things are done there in Phoenix. Changes happen very quickly, sometimes on purpose, and we don't find out until it's over.

"I think what throws people is the word lobbyist. This is not hiring someone to champion issues on our behalf. It's just someone who hears things and knows what's going on, because the way things are done down there is not the way we do it here."

ICT - Dr. Mohtaseb
Related Stories:
• Letter: Arizona Legislature needs watching
• Mohave County moves quickly on new position to monitor Legislature
• Does Mohave County need a lobbyist?


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Article comment by: Another Thought

"well its time for Erin Cochran to step up and announce that she will run against Brotherton in the next election."

Hahaha, you think people are screaming about taxes and fees now, just you wait. Nothing like shooting yourself in the foot.


Posted: Saturday, December 21, 2013
Article comment by: Time for change

well its time for Erin Cochran to step up and announce that she will run against Brotherton in the next election. YOU GO ERIN!!!!!!

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Article comment by: trained observer

"$60,000 for the six months"

Shoot, for that amount I would of pitched a tent in the outskirts of town and attend the meetings! That's more than most people make in a year!
___
That's more than 3 single parent families working minimum wage in this town get.


Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Article comment by: Just Wrong

This is just wrong.

We had 3 supervisors with big districts and things were fine. Now we have 5 supervisors with smaller districts and they don't have time to do their jobs.

You can spend months discussing the Mexican Wolf but you don't have time to monitor legislative issues that impact your constituents.

You can waste months discussing a building that has been vacant for 10 years but you don't have time to monitor legislative issues that impact your constituents.

And even though I believe that Mr Lingenfelter will do a good job for you, this whole process was a total joke, typical of what your county manager is notorious for. It is unfortunate that our elected officials are proving that they are no better than him.

And what about your real county employees, you know the ones who didn't leave for better jobs.They listen to your discussions about potentially losing their health benefits because you can't afford to pay for them.They have sat back and watched your county manager promote individuals who were not deserving and now they see this take place. How much longer do you expect them to stay loyal?


Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: Ready Kilowatt

The next thing will be, at the end of six months, or a at most, one year, positions will be shuffled or eliminated and the lobbyist will be the asst county manager, and it will save money. Mark my words. Watson and Joy engineered this.

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: Rick Sherwood

Did anyone notice the flip-flop of Steve Moss once Watson spoke up?? This is nothing more than a job for Travis Lingenfelter. Follow the results of this. I have nothing against Travis, it's just the sham of handling. For those that keep questioning just who are the good ol boys, just watch how this turns out.

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: Just A Thought

Wow an intelligent decision from the BOS. The only thing wrong with this decision is that it was not permanent. All progressive cities have a lobbyist on staff and some several. If Kingman is to progress and move into the 21st century they must act like a modern city. For all the people living Kingman that believe we are in the 50's you are wrong. We must fight for companies and provide incentives for them to come. Kingman has lost several distribution centers because of the inflexibility and ignorance of todays business environment.

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: L J

This was nothing more than a setup and Brotherton is behind it all. We find it odd that just a few weeks ago she was raising hell with the City of Kingman for not appointing Lingenfelter as City Mgr. and within 24hrs. Of the board approving this new position Lingenfelter is given the job! Talk about lack of trust in our elected officials!

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: David Powers

Six month trial is a sensible way for the BOS to determine if this position will benefit Mohave County. With the other responsibilities that are included in the role, it appears Mr. Lingenfelter's skills and experience will fulfill their expectations. Thanks to the BOS for their progressive vision!

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: Do they think we are that stupid?

The Miner is filled day after day with comments on national politics, while we have stuff like this going on in our very backyard. How stupid do they think we are? They created a position that no one really thought we needed, loaded it up with benefits and gave it to their friend. $60,000 for a PART time position? No outside posting? SERIOUSLY?

Brotherton needs to go. NOW. And frankly, so does the rest of the board with monkey business like this. I honestly can't believe that they would go along with something so unbelievably shady, but then again, they must all think we're stupid. And we are if we don't do anything about this.


Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: Oh Ya

"$60,000 for the six months"

Shoot, for that amount I would of pitched a tent in the outskirts of town and attend the meetings! That's more than most people make in a year!


Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: joker wilde

Moss, Brotherton and Watson bill themselves as being conservatives, yet they add another overpaid good ol' boy to the pubic trough. What a joke this county is!

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

I'm not hating on Travis Lingenfelter, but are these people CRAZY!!!???

$10K a month, plus a vehicle, expenses, and benefits...let's call it (conservatively) $75K total. Yeah, we can afford that.

For less money they could have hired a firm that does NOTHING but monitor the Legislature, promote good things for Mohave County and is right in the Phoenix area.

"environmental issues, special projects, property management and economic development for the county." Aren't there already full time employees that do these things? In fact, aren't there whole departments devoted to some of them?


Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: Nikki B

If it's not a lobbyist, then don't call it a lobbyist.

And if the Arizona legislature is backroom and hallway dealing, isn't that something that needs to be addressed? "That's just how things are done," is the antithesis of open, honest, transparent business.

This is a huge expense, and in my opinion, completely unnecessary.


Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: az mac

Looks like the county government will continue to grow bigger which means higher taxes.

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: Al DiCicco

We do not need a lobbyist. You five Supervisors need to work harder for your $65,000. Take turns and go to Phoenix, or resign and I'll do it. It's much to easy for you all to spend our tax money.

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: Ready Kilowatt

What day will the hometown boy, CM candidate be hired in this handmade job? Set up all the way.

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: Trained Observer

$60k plus expenses for 6 months work? Who's friend is going to get this position? I don't think most people in the county feel this is a necessary expense but as usual the BOS doesn't care or listen to what the people that elected them want. They just want to take care of their friends and avoid any personal responsibility for doing THEIR jobs.

Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

I would think if the County Supervisors wanted advise or whatever they would turn to their CURRENT District Representative, essentially all you have done is appointed a district representative without election by the people of Mohave County.
What the do you think state Reps. are ELECTED for??
Surely you could do without this extra tax money being spent in such a manner by the taxpayers!
Your the Board of Supervisors, why didn't you appoint one of your own on your salary to do this job?


Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Article comment by: An Employee

At least it wasn't passed off to staff. And there is someone in Kingman that is qualified to do what the BOS wants? Wanna bet it turns into a $120,000 a year new job? Affluenza hits again. You know, the strain that hits those in sudden positional authority.

Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

How convenient for Buster the Johnson to be able to get what he wants and still be able to vote against it. It was originally his idea. This whole board basically vote as a block to keep the status quo in power. This is a shameful waste of tax payers money and a job they all should be doing themselves. Disgraceful and this is what you want to raise our property taxes for.

Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Article comment by: gun guy

I wish I could say I was surprised our Board of Supervisors do what they want when they want how they want they do not care what the people they serve want next election we should vote them all out new bloodand get rid of this old Kingman blood it's not what you know it's who you know in this town



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