Doug Lingner to Resign from Housing Authority of Maricopa County

Categories: News analysis
lingner.jpg
Doug Lingner will be leaving the Housing Authority of Maricopa County by Monday -- or else.

Doug Lingner, executive director of the Housing Authority of Maricopa County, will be resigning his position.

Lingner, a former Phoenix city councilman, was the subject of a New Times cover story just five weeks ago. The story detailed his penchant for hiring family members and steering federal stimulus funds to supporters from his time on the council. Faced with those allegations, and a strong response from County Manager David Smith, the agency's board of directors had placed Lingner on paid leave, and under investigation.

Today, that board of directors voted unanimously to accept Lingner's resignation -- and, in exchange, to terminate its investigation into his actions.

The only problem? Lingner hasn't officially resigned yet. Apparently, an agreement is circulating between the two parties, but the board is still waiting for Lingner's signature.

But they weren't interested in waiting around. The board voted to accept Lingner's resignation as long as he signs the agreement by the close of business Monday, March 22. They also voted unanimously to appoint the agency's acting director, Karen Mofford, as its interim head, and gave her a pay raise.

Mofford will now be making roughly $106,000, which Board Chairman Richard Cole said is similar to the salary Lingner was making at the time of his hire.

Lingner, a former tile-setter with no experience in the complicated world of low-income housing, was hired as the agency's director in summer 2008. As New Times' cover story revealed, he almost immediately began hiring his brother, son, and even a nephew for odd jobs at the agency, despite bylaws expressly forbidding such hires. He also racked up plenty of meals and travel expenses on the agency's credit card, treating himself to meals at Scottsdale hotspots like the Hotel Valley Ho and downtown destinations like Portland's and My Florist.

But all Lingner's missteps appeared to go unnoticed until he fired Tania Huff, a single mother and two-year veteran of the agency, even as his 17-year-old son was given a paid (albeit officially "temporary") position at the housing authority. Huff contacted the Reverend Oscar Tillman of the Maricopa County NAACP, and eventually told her story to New Times. That led to the board of directors initiating an internal investigation into Lingner, even as he protested his innocence.

Huff didn't speak at the meeting today. But she was there, and she was smiling.

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