The Self Serving and Secretive Machinations of Don Sorchych

A Sonoran Truth Editorial Opinion

November 18, 2014

 What motivated Sorchych to do a complete 180 degree stance on development after years of denigrating, demeaning, rabidly and viciously attacking any and every development in and around Cave Creek? Why is he now a staunch advocate of Cahava Springs? Let’s take a look, connect the dots and follow the money.

In the June 8, 2011 issue of his paper Sorchych touted Cahava Springs “as the most environmentally sensitive major development project in metro Phoenix, and the largest project in the Town of Cave Creek, Cahava Springs appears to be back on track.”

At the next Town Council meeting, the Town Council voted on June, 2011 to pave Morning Star.

On Dec. 21, 2011 Sorchych had his friend Usama direct that a letter be written to all the owners along a private easement at the end of Morning Star pleading for a 60’ ROW that ended at Cahava Springs property. No one acceded to this request except Don Sorchych who did so and failed to tell the court the property was the subject of a lawsuit.  For his fraud before the court, he was and his attorney Carol DeSzendeffy were court sanctioned in the thousands of dollars and she was put on probation for a year by Supreme Court of Arizona Bar Ethics Committee.  The verdict was 8-0 by the panel.

A week later on Dec. 28th, the Town notified residents on Morning Star Rd that it would be paved and straightened, deliberately ignoring the Annexation agreement that prohibited paving Morning Star for 25 years!

A week after that on Jan. 4, 2012 Cahava Springs redeemed property along the private easement that was due to be foreclosed on by paying $15,191.20 to redeem their property sold for delinquent taxes.

Is this all coincidence? Why did Sorchych use his paper and his influence with the Town Manager to get all this done? Why all of a sudden is he pro-development?  We think we know the answer and here it is:

A few years ago Sorchych was sued by his neighbor for not paying his half of the maintenance on the driveway.  He lost big time but still wouldn’t pay. So the neighbor sold the judgment to FDS Financial who immediately took him to court in a debtors exam. Now if you don’t know, a debtors exam requires an individual to list every single asset he owns right down to his wrist watch.  Sorchych couldn’t stand that because he knew his investments in Cahava Springs would then be public knowledge. He even said so in his paper…it was all about his assets. He paid immediately to keep his assets from being disclosed.

Sorchych will soon be 84 years old and he wants his money… now! A notoriously tight skinflint, he once viciously berated a resident that lived in a ramshackle trailer on his property for leaving on a 60W bulb at night so he could see if he was about to step on a rattlesnake at night.  He is doing everything he can to make Cahava Springs a success so he can get it.

So how about it Don? How much do you have invested in Cahava Springs?  And Mark Stapp, Cahava Springs director can tell us too.  As they say….follow the money.

Man up and tell us!


Truth = Clarity

We recently received the following email from Retired Police Captain Jensen:——– Original Message ——– Subject: Re: Sonoran News Online Edition for Oct. 29, 2014 Date: 2014-10-29 06:14 PM From: CW <> To: “ ” <> “I am thrilled to find your website. Thankfully, I’m not alone. I would love to have a cup of coffee and you could help me understand this goofy town I’ve been here 4 years and I’ve never lived anywhere like this CW Jensen.” Retired police captain Galvin street cave creek.

Editor’s response. Thanks for the compliment. We’re glad you like our commentary on the craziness that constitutes Cave Creek. While we’d love to share some java, we’re not sure we could explain the sociopaths that manipulate Cave Creek. They defy a reasonable person’s logic and understanding. 

Take the recall for instance. Adam Trenk, Charlie Spitzer, Reg Monachino, and Mike Durkin have done nothing to warrant recall, yet in the twisted minds of minions who follow Don Sorchych and the Sonoran News, these elected officials are bad people. Democracy be damned. Representational governance? Who needs it. What Don wants is a dictatorship- Usama care. Those who are friends with Don or go along with his missives are OK. Those who don’t, get their horses or other prized animals poisoned…but just like with the Mafia, it can’t be proved for prosecution.

So Captain Jensen- read our history, follow our blog and start your own investigation. Feel free to write us a guest editorial. We’ll print it with your name, or anonymous if you prefer. But get involved. Something stinks in Cave Creek. You’re a retired law enforcement officer. Laws are meant to be uniformly enforced, not selectively enforced depending upon who you chose to be friends with or agree with. Trace the incompetence, the corruption, the lies, deceit and treachery. Post up the suspects on your bulletin board. Then put out an APB to have these folks removed from all governance and influence in our community.

Great Men Always Have Enemies

The miscreants and cowards who fill the Sonoran News editorial page just cant give up hating on Vice Mayor Adam Trenk. It seems that no matter what he does, Trenk keeps them hot and bothered. Understandable though it may be in the case of Steve LaMar given his apparent proclivities for young men, one has to wonder what it is about Trenk that keeps Bob Williams, Hani Saba, and old Sorchcyh so motivated to sit in front of their desks furiously pounding out self-affirming anti-Trenk rhetoric?

This past September Trenk ventured to Washington DC to join the No Labels Foundation, giving of his time and energy to work with a bipartisan national panel of State and Local leaders to help develop a national strategic agenda. Hard to imagine this could be controversial, yet Saba’s missive in this weeks S’News is ripe with hate at the thought. Saba must have an anti-American pre-disposition to find fault with an effort to secure this great nation. But who are we to speculate . . .

As usual, Sorchych’s hypocrisy in his column this week knows no bounds. Last year he published Trenk’s address and pictures of his home before threatening Trenk’s safety by printing a Nazi Swastika with the message “Once off your drive way you’re in the land of the enemy, drive with care” together with an article about Trenk in the same week Trenk’s truck had a catastrophic drive train failure and his horse died. And yet Sorchych again has the gall to question Trenk’s motivation for keeping the location of his new home quiet?

Sorchych further rants that Trenk is costing the Town legal fees, as though the Town has a choice but to defend the frivolous lawsuits brought by Abujbarah. Word around the camp fire is Dick Esser is has admitted that Usama Abujbarah’s suit is intended to terrorize and undermine the legitimacy of Trenk and the “Slate” even though Abujbarah knows he can’t win. We hear they think this helps them in a recall. Hard to say if that is the truth, since Dick is a notorious liar, but the point is it is Abujbarah costing the town all that money.

Then consider all the other lawsuits originated against the Town due to Abujbarah/ Sorchych vendettas…read Hebets’ memos to the FBI of the atrocious conduct of Cave Creek based purely on the emotional diatribes of “Donny Boy” and Usama placating Don in order to keep his job… all condoned by Mayor Francia and previous councils so that they stay out of the cross hairs of Sorchcyh hate rants in the S’News… old habits die hard.

The kicker in this week’s S’News is Bob Williams. His half witted attempt at sarcasm entitled “the Trenk void” regurgitates the same stale allegations the Sonoran News has hurled at Trenk time and time again, but now in question form…. Good one Bob! How long did you play with yourself before coming up with such asinine stupidity?

Rather than point out the absurdity of each query Williams was able to muster, we figured we would simply respond with a few facts:

  • Without Adam Trenk the Town’s budget would be $1.2M dollars higher this year
  • Without Adam Trenk the horsemen and women of Cave Creek would still have to apply & pay for building permits to put up corrals within their building envelopes, and then have them inspected before use
  • Without Adam Trenk sandwich boards would still clutter the Town core
  • Without Adam Trenk property owners with lots greater than one acre in DR-89 or DR-190 rural zones would not have horse privileges
  • Without Adam Trenk the odor and fumes coming out of the Waste Water treatment plant would still be so foul & oppressive they effected the health of neighboring residents
  • Without Adam Trenk the Town would not have started to develop policies and procedures to ensure adequate systems tests and preventative maintenance are performed on the water utility infrastructure.
  • Without Adam Trenk the Town would still regularly spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency repair costs for preventable water system failures
  • Without Adam Trenk the citizens of the community would not have access to their elected officials during weekly office hours
  • Without Adam Trenk the Town would not have a standardized public records request system which catalogs fulfillment details keeping staff accountable
  • Without Adam Trenk Cave Creek would still be run by Usama Abujbarah and subject to the toxic influence of Don Sorchych and the Sonoran News

Trenk may not be an infallible leader, but Cave Creek should count its blessings that the likes of Esser, LaMar, and Jim Bruce are no longer rubber stamping the ill-conceived and never vetted policies Abujbarah presented to the former council. Without Trenk, there would not be a void, there would be a vacuum, and history has shown us that it sucks up the lowest common denominator. One need only look to how this gang of cyber bullies continues to react to the legitimate and well deserved 2013 democratic defeat of their terrorist regime for proof of that.

Logical Leadership

A Sonoran Truth Editorial, 9.17.14

Terry Zerkle proposed a consulting solution for logical leadership a few years which got turned into sound bytes and then got lost in the ego of counsel. We’re reprinting here to complete our concern that Cave Creek remains rudderless. In the past, it was Usama, Francia and the Town’s “illustrious” council pulling all kinds of stuff, and telling the citizens or counsel little if anything all the time, pretending to be sincere. Worked great for the likes of Sorchych.

Now? Sorchych continues to characterize this as an “us vs. them” argument, all the while incompetent leadership and questionable ethical conduct from prior council and town manager becomes imbedded in black rock- a permanent fixture to remain no matter how hard Adam asks for accountability.


The following is a suggested action plan for restoring operational integrity, fiscal health, and transparency to the business and functioning of town government and to protecting and advancing the town’s future.

Management Review

Retain a recognized municipal management consultant with demonstrated experience in organizational review and assessment to perform a management review of town operations, structure, practices, policies and procedures with the goal to identify those things which, as a matter of best practice, should be retained and built upon while concurrently identifying opportunities for improvement, efficiency and change, providing the appropriate supporting assessment and documentation, and making recommendations accordingly including an implementation plan.

Financial Management

Contract a nationally recognized independent accounting firm with a highly regarded forensic accounting unit to conduct both a traditional and forensic audit of town finances. Said audits to be made public and include, but not be limited to, a comprehensive review of the adequacy and appropriateness of transactions, documentation and actions leading up to, surrounding, and following purchase and improvements to the water companies and wastewater treatment facilities, loans for same, compliance with loan covenants and restrictions, and the adequacy, completeness and accuracy of the town’s financial statements including an up-to-date assessment and statement of its current financial position. Said audits to provide recommendations as appropriate for corrective actions as well as changes to existing financial policies and practices and to provide the basis for preparation of a multi-year Strategic Financial Management Plan.

Convene a Financial Task Force comprised of a broad cross section of Cave Creek citizens to assist the Council in achieving financial transparency and following up with implementation of the recommendations contained in the audit and the other recommendations which will emanate from completing the financial actions listed below.

Adopt written financial policies to guide budget preparation, execution, administration and recurring financial management decision-making. At a minimum, specific policies will address the following: operations of town government, debt service, capital expenditures, reserves, financial reporting, and financial stability. As a best practice, examples of such written guidelines will include but not be limited to: requiring adherence to a balanced operating budget, engaging in long-term financial planning, maintaining an inventory and assessing the condition of all major capital assets, maintaining revenue diversity, setting and updating fees and charges for services including utilities, discouraging the use of one-time revenue for ongoing expenditures, specifying the appropriates use of debt and identifying the maximum amount of debt that should be outstanding at any time, and maintaining a prudent level of reserves and specifying the amount of those reserves.

Complete a comprehensive enterprise-wide service delivery, resource, cost of operations, and financial assessment (current and projected) of all funds, departments and program activities. Include capital investments with attendant estimated increases in operating costs. Identify challenges/imbalances and strategies for correcting same. Based on that assessment, prepare and adopt an integrated multi-year (3-5 year) Strategic Financial Management Plan noting specific actions to be taken, when and by whom. This plan to be used to guide Council and staff financial and service delivery decision-making on a recurring basis. Update plan annually to reflect changing conditions and priorities.

Prepare, adopt and update annually a multi-year Capital Improvements Plan or Infrastructure Improvements Plan to guide decision-making related to the timing and financing of capital investments. Incorporate financial implications of the CIP into the multi-year Strategic Financial Management Plan.

Immediately engage in on-going oversight and monitoring of town finances including the preparation and dissemination of regular (suggestion is monthly or bi-monthly) written financial condition update reports to the Council and citizens.

Consider using the ICMA Financial Trend Monitoring System tailored to Cave Creek’s specific needs as the tool for monitoring town finances and on-going reporting to Council and citizens.

Reverse the Council action that combined the Water and Wastewater Funds into a single enterprise fund and re-establish these activities as separate and discrete funds for accounting and budgetary purposes.

Wean the town off the unrestrained use of General Fund revenues to subsidize operating and debt service expenses of the Water and Wastewater utilities. This is an extremely flawed, self-defeating municipal financial management practice. Develop and implement a phased-in plan wherein the water and sewer utilities become self-supporting enterprises over time.

Utilities Management

Either as part of the Management Review referenced in above or in a separate study, retain a recognized management consultant with expertise in utility operations to conduct a management review of the town’s utilities to assure that sound business and best practices are being employed in the operations, financing, management and long-term planning of those systems. The review to include recommendations for change as appropriate and an implementation plan.

Review, modify/correct as appropriate, publicly vet, and adopt the non-publicly vetted, non-Council adopted April 2008 Water Master Plan. Notify Maricopa County and other governmental agencies that the previous version was never reviewed, adopted or publicly vetted by Council and that there was no Council adopted multi-year Capital Improvements Plan in place for making improvements to the water systems.

Reinstate the Citizens Water Advisory Committee to review and advise the Council on water master planning and major water policy matters and issues confronting the community.

With the aid of the reinstated Citizens Water Advisory Committee, engage in comprehensively identifying, reviewing, analyzing and then providing strategic direction on the multitude of major water policy issues and challenges confronting the community.

Recover, retain and safeguard Cave Creek’s incredibly valuable, finite Central Arizona Project water allocation for use in Cave Creek, not to serve users outside Cave Creek. This was the promise to Cave Creek citizens at the time the town sought voter approval for authorization to get into the water utility business.

Avoid further over-extending precious town water supply resources beyond their capacity to serve Cave Creek, which is already an issue. Plan for and assure long-term water supply sustainability for Cave Creek citizens.

Firm up with sustainable resources the known long-term town water resource deficit, which currently stands at approximately 1,000 acre feet.

Resolve the town-owned CAP water transmission line undersize issue from where the line begins at the canal at Deer Valley Road extending up Cave Creek Road to the Cave Creek water treatment plant, a distance of approximately eight miles. Current line, sized at 16”, is insufficiently sized to deliver Cave Creek’s existing full CAP allocation as water demand increases.

Immediately dispense with the flawed practice of staff only approval of certain water and wastewater development agreements. Require Council review and approval of all water and wastewater development agreements entered between the town and private individuals/developers.

Evaluate the efficacy of spinning off town ownership of the Desert Hills Water Company and setting it up as a free-standing water district with its own elected governing board comprised of Desert Hills residents. As part of the transference, set up mechanism for recovering any Cave Creek specific assets, resources and investments if and as appropriate.

Also absolve the town of the obligation and responsibility of servicing the Sabroso Water System. Servicing Sabroso should be a Desert Hills Water Company responsibility and addressed with the spin off of that company from town ownership.

Community Vision and Planning

Affirm and protect low density, large parcel Desert Rural zoning, the integrity of the community’s unique western heritage, its historic town core, and the vision, principles and policies expressed in the adopted, publicly ratified 2005 General Plan.

Carry forward the aforesaid vision and principles in any update of the General Plan.

Prepare an Economic Development Plan specific to Cave Creek to guide the economic growth of the community. Engage the community in its preparation.

Restore the utility undergrounding requirement to the Zoning Ordinance.

Why Can’t Cave Creek Accept Objective Expertise?

A Sonoran Truth Editorial, 9.17.14

From: Terry Zerkle <>
To: atrenk <>; chaniarts <>; mike.f.durkin <>; rmonachino <>
Sent: Tue, Sep 9, 2014 7:17 am
Subject: Development Fee (Capacity Charge) Study

Adam, et al,

Through a public records request to the Town Clerk and a response to that request by the Town Manager yesterday, I learned there has not been a Council approved executed contract between the town and TischlerBise for the Development Fee (Capacity Charge) study that is in process of being performed for the town by that firm.

While the Council apparently authorized entering a contract with TischlerBise on August 19, 2013, one was not on the agenda that evening for approval, and the staff never saw fit to have one prepared, so it was never done. And Council never exercised any oversight to see that it was done. This is pretty unbelievable. Here we are over one year later, following that outrageously confusing meeting last week on Capacity Charges, learning that there is no written Council approved executed contract for this “urgent” but still unfinished study.

Really, where is the Council and staff oversight on this stuff? Where is the adherence to basic, standard governmental contacting and procurement practices and procedures? Council is supposed to approve the actual contract inclusive of its scope of work, deliverables, and timeline, not just authorize entering into one. It’s supposed to be placed on the agenda for approval at a duly noticed public meeting and available to the public for inspection and input prior to approval. That’s the law.

The essence of the comments I made and wrote the Council about the flawed Water Master Plan contracting process last year (see below) apply to this situation as well. It’s not transparent, it’s not right, it’s not in accord with accepted standard governmental practice and procedure, and it was not done in accordance with law. Both the Council and the public were shortchanged and placed at risk on a major policy initiative as a result of incomplete, shoddy staff work and apparent non-existent Council oversight.

Hopefully, the vendor will work with the town to bring this study to a successful and expeditious close even though there is no written contract. They enjoy a good reputation in the state and nationally, so I would suspect they probably will.

Even so, this should be treated as a learning moment for the Council for the future. Do not try to short cut the process. Follow good, accepted governmental practice and procedure on approvals. Make sure everything is open and transparent. Exercise responsible policy oversight and direction. Do not accept shoddy, incomplete, or sloppy staff work. Ask for and expect professionalism in performance and products from staff. And for purposes of accountability and delivery, assure yourselves a responsible, competent point person has been tasked by the Town Manager to be in charge of, coordinate and lead major policy initiatives such as this, that everyone knows who it is, and that that person is familiar with the contract’s terms.

Feel free to give me a call if you wish to discuss.


—–Original Message—–
From: Terry Zerkle <>
To: Mike.Durkin <>
Cc: chaniarts <>; atrenk <>
Sent: Mon, Aug 26, 2013 1:20 pm
Subject: Re: August 19, 2013 Council Meeting – Consultant Contract for Water Master Plan & Other Plans


Your most recent email recanting what you said in the prior email is troubling. Respectfully, it’s not an issue of trusting you and the Council, and not a matter of what I want personally. It’s a matter of doing what’s transparent, right, in accord with accepted good practice, and required by law.

Under the present scenario by delegating the guts of contract policy development to staff and not bringing it back to Council for approval after the details are negotiated, citizens are closed out from having input into policy making that is their right to participate in if they so choose. For that matter, the Council as a body, which has overall oversight responsibility and a fiduciary duty to be involved in contract policy development and approval, is either opting out or closed out as well depending on one’s perspective. This is non-transparent policy making. It’s so wrong on so many levels as to defy description. It’s exactly the type thing the old regime used to engage in inclusive of the excuse that the urgency of the matter didn’t allow time to do it the right way. I strongly urge the Council to do the right thing and bring this contract back to the Council for public vetting and approval after the details are negotiated. Please, do not fall into the trap and pattern of doing public business in the sloppy, improper, non-transparent way it was done in the past. Work could still commence without delay if the consultant is willing to await payment until after Council approval of the contract.

There’s still the issue of how the improper changes that were made by staff to the Council adopted April 16, 2007 WMP are going to be addressed and corrected by Council. For example, the tank, pumps and piping for Gold Mtn Development were not in the WMP adopted by Council on April 16, 2007 and were improperly/illegally added by staff to the July 2007 version. The July 2007 version and subsequent versions were never seen by or taken to the Council for public vetting and adoption. How is the shenanigan part of what transpired back in the day including the tank for Gold Mtn Development going be corrected and not masked over or allowed to be legitimized by rolling it into the WMP update process?

Am available to discuss at your convenience.


Terry Zerkle

—–Original Message—–
From: Mike.Durkin <>
To: terrylzerkle <>
Sent: Mon, Aug 26, 2013 10:11 am
Subject: RE: August 19, 2013 Council Meeting – Consultant Contract for Water Master Plan & Other Plans


I misspoke. As you saw, during the 19 August meeting, the council approved using my review as their last check on the contract. We will be informing the council (and at the same time the citizens) of the final contract particulars in September. At that time the contract will have been executed.

I know this is not exactly what you want but as you know there is some urgency in getting these plans completed so we can meet the deadline for our impact fee review.

I hope you will trust that the folks you helped elect have their hands on the wheel. [Ed.- No we don’t]



From: Terry Zerkle []
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 9:47 AM
To: Durkin, Mike-P12871
Subject: Re: August 19, 2013 Council Meeting – Consultant Contract for Water Master Plan & Other Plans

Thank you, Mike. This is a smart move and the right thing to do.


Terry Zerkle

—–Original Message—–
From: Mike.Durkin <>
To: terrylzerkle <>
Sent: Mon, Aug 26, 2013 8:13 am
Subject: RE: August 19, 2013 Council Meeting – Consultant Contract for Water Master Plan & Other Plans


Thanks for the comments. You make some accurate points.

In the interest of transparency we do plan to bring the contract before council in September for approval prior to singing.



From: Terry Zerkle []
Sent: Saturday, August 24, 2013 1:38 PM
To: Durkin, Mike-P12871
Subject: Re: August 19, 2013 Council Meeting – Consultant Contract for Water Master Plan & Other Plans


The action taken by the Council at the Aug 19 meeting was to authorize staff to enter into a contract with WaterWorks Engineers in an amount not to exceed $200,000 [which is a ton of money] to complete the update to the CC Water Master Plan, and to create an Asset Management Plan and Fire Infrastructure Master Plan for the town’s water system, update the CC Sewer Master Plan, and authorize the TM, TA, and town staff to take all steps necessary to finalize the agreement. You were designated to review the contract before it was approved and signed. The contract was not required to be brought back to the full Council for public vetting and Council approval after its details were negotiated. Nor did the draft contract appearing in the Council agenda packet contain a scope of work, timetable, and deliverables, which are the policy guts of a contract of this type. The action taken by the Council was to authorize the draft contract to move forward with the staff delegated carte blanche authority to fill in the policy guts subject to your review without the contract being brought back to Council for formal approval.

That is non-transparent policy-making. Professional services contracts, which by definition and law are policy actions and documents, consist of two important components – price and scope(s) of work inclusive of timetable(s) and deliverables. Both are to be acted on and approved before the entire elected governing body at a duly noticed public meeting. This so both the Council and the public know what the entity and the public are getting for the dollars being invested. And so the public can be informed and weigh in on the details of the proposed contract if they so choose. Everything above board, out in the open, fully transparent. As it stands right now, both the Council and the public have been closed out.

In the interest of transparency, accountability, and adhering to standard governmental practice, this contract should be brought back to Council for public vetting and formal approval after its policy components are negotiated. While there may be little or no interest demonstrated by the public in the details at that time, at least action approving the document in its entirety will have taken place in the sunshine. No claim of chicanery or back room dealing can be made. Work could still commence prior to formal approval of the contract if the consultant is willing to await payment for that work until after Council approval action is taken.

I obtained a copy of the missing scope for the WMP portion of the new contract. Would ask you the following: Which 2007 version of the WMP prepared by CH2MHILL is being represented as the adopted version and being given to the new consultant? There are at least two 2007 versions – one dated March 2007 stamped Draft adopted April 16, 2007 and another dated July 2007 titled Final Report. The only version ever adopted by Council was the Mar 2007 version adopted on April 16, 2007. The July 2007 version was never adopted or taken to the Council. Moreover, the July 2007 version is the one staff changed and added the water storage tank, pumps and piping for Gold Mtn Estates on Continental Mtn. Major policy change and implications extending far beyond just capital improvement projects. How is this wrongdoing going to be rectified and not rolled over into and possibly caught up in the new process? There are other changes/additions in the July 2007 version as well. Not sure what they are, just that the two documents are materially different. These questions are particularly relevant given that the fox has been placed in charge of guarding the hen house.

Mike, none of what I’ve written here is intended to question your fitness and role in any of this. You are without question a person of uncompromising honesty and integrity and wish to do the right thing. I respect you immensely for that. Just trying to assure that the Council as a body fulfills its policy-making duty in a transparent manner and does not fall into the trap of repeating patterns of old or unwittingly providing cover and legitimacy for wrongdoing of old.

Please feel free to give me a call if you have questions.


—–Original Message—–
From: Mike.Durkin <>
To: terrylzerkle <>
Cc: atrenk <>
Sent: Tue, Aug 20, 2013 3:38 pm
Subject: RE: August 19, 2013 Council Meeting – Consultant Contract for Water Master Plan & Other Plans


The contract with WaterWorks does not exist. The contract into which we enter will contain a SOW and a schedule. As you witnessed, the council charged me with seeing that this happens. I will.



From: Terry Zerkle []
Sent: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 3:33 PM
Cc:;; Durkin, Mike-P12871
Subject: August 19, 2013 Council Meeting – Consultant Contract for Water Master Plan & Other Plans

Hi Adam,

I am at a loss on how to tactfully phrase this, but the Council committed a grievous error in procedure and process at last night’s council meeting in authorizing staff to enter into a contract with the consultant for the updated Water Master Plan and other plans without that document containing a scope of work, timetable and deliverables.

You were right in making an issue of it. Moreover, definitive corrective action should be taken at a subsequent meeting, along the lines of what is suggested below in the paragraph appearing in italics. Also, your comment about the misfeasance that was in play in the past resulting from the absence of these plans was spot on.

Concerning the immediate issue, a contract of the type and expense being considered is by definition and law a major policy document and action. Its guts consist of scope(s) of work, timetable(s), and deliverables. The guts are what the council as a policy-making body is charged with overseeing, approving, and making sure the contract contains at the time of adoption as well as assuring it will serve and meet the community’s needs. Approval by not just a single Council member interacting with staff, but the entire Council sitting in a properly noticed public meeting acting in concert as a policy body.

That it didn’t contain any of the essential components and that it was approved in this format is highly irregular and extremely troubling. If not corrected, it amounts to an abdication of the council’s policy-making authority to staff, which, as you know, was a major problem inherent in the old regime. It also has the potential to seriously compromise public trust in the Council’s decision making.

How so? Action approving the contract without its guts lacks transparency, fiscal responsibility, and governmental accountability, which was the mantra during the campaign. This supposedly is what was going to change when the new Council was seated.

I’m extremely surprised the Town Attorney approved the contract in this form for presentation to Council without it containing a scope of work, timetable, and deliverables, either as part of the document or an exhibit thereto. Those components constitute public sector contract management 101 for this type Council approved professional services contract.

The appropriate action at last night’s meeting would have been for the Council to select Waterworks Engineers as the consultant for this project and authorize staff to negotiate a contract with them in an amount not to exceed $200,000 that would be brought back to Council at a subsequent meeting for approval. This is what’s needed for public transparency.

This email is not intended as a slight to the Water Advisory Committee. Apparently they did their due diligence and homework in recommending a consultant firm and a scope of work with timetable and deliverables to the Council. Their work, for whatever reason, failed to get incorporated in the contract document that was presented to Council.

This is a big deal. Not only is $200,000 a ton of money, correcting the Water Master Plan fiasco is critically important to the long-term well being of the community. The Council as the policy-making body needs to be on top of it, in charge of it, and seen as such. And the process in all of its manifestations from awarding the contract to completing the various plans needs to be fully transparent and done according to proper procedure. There shouldn’t be shortcuts or staff connivances as was done in the past or even the appearance of same.

My suggestion for correcting this miscue and achieving transparency, fiscal responsibility and accountability is to agenda this matter for additional discussion and direction at the next Council meeting. At that meeting provide direction to staff that when negotiated the contract is to be brought back to the Council for formal approval. Staff could be authorized to commence work under the negotiated contract with the consultant prior to formal approval by Council with the understanding and acknowledgement by the consultant that payment for that work is subject to Council approval of the contract. That way work could commence without delay if the consultant is willing to assume what should be only minor risk.

In closing, permit me to add this policy-making reminder from an earlier email I sent when the new Council candidates were running. I feel it is illustrative of the current issue in many respects. Here it is:

“Policy-making. Take charge of your policy-making role and responsibilities early on. Make it known that you are in charge of policy and will not countenance infringement on those prerogatives. Ask questions. Seek clarification. Avoid rubber stamping. Reject sloppy or incomplete information and staff work. Expect good analysis, especially when it involves finances of any kind. Make it known that you expect professionally prepared staff reports with appropriate technical/financial analysis, options and recommendations as appropriate to accompany agenda items or other recommendations for council consideration.”

Hope these comments are of value. Feel free to call if you have questions.


Terry Zerkle

The Continuing Cost of Usama’s Incompetence

A Sonoran Truth Editorial, 9-14-14

Part of the power play which plunged Cave Creek into enormous debt was the acquisition of Cave Creek’s Water Company, WITH ABSOLUTELY NO KNOWLEDGE OR EXPERTISE INTO HOW TO RUN A WATER COMPANY. As we’ve said before, ignorance can be cured, but stupid is forever. As outsiders, we don’t see how anyone currently working for the Town would have any interest in making the water company function (let alone efficiently). Nonetheless, we applaud Vice Mayor Trenk’s attempt to incorporate accountability into a basic Town service. We love to see Jankowski show some balls and clean up Town Hall, rather than be just another political bureaucrat- another Usama.

From: Adam Trenk <>
Date: September 5, 2014 at 10:51:21 AM MST
To: “Peter Jankowski <> (” <>, “” <>” <>, “” <>
Subject: AGENDA ITEM REQUEST re: Utility Operations

Mayor Francia and Mr. Jankowski,

Over the last many months we have continued to make meaningful adjustments in the operation of the Town as well as policy changes that benefit our citizens.  Notably we have adopted a budget representing over a Million Dollars in savings over that prepared by the previous administration, while dedicating more of the dollars we do spend to meaningful capital improvements and maintenance on our infrastructure.  We have also passed ordinances reducing government interference in the  mundane activities of private property owners, and will be contemplating an ordinance later this month to expand property rights related to keeping horses in Desert Rural areas, which if passed will add value to the those non-conforming properties under two acres in DR-89 zones. But our work is far from over.

As we wade through the capacity fee matter this past week other matters have come to the forefront regarding the operation of the water and wastewater utilities in my discussion with various members of the WAC.  With that in mind I want to reiterate that, as we discussed this past Wednesday, our new utilities director David Prinzhorn, is a major asset to the town whose expertise should be supported and channeled with a competent assistant engineer to manage roads and administration, as well as clear instruction from top management to facilitate effective practices and oversight at the executive (council) level.

Unfortunately, though through no fault of David Prinzhorn’s, it seems that to date our water company has literally been run by the seat of its pants.  We have already established that there was no preventative maintenance schedule in place which continues to cost the town money and man hours. Worse yet, we simply do not have a functioning system for monitoring performance levels and compiling meaningful data for policy makers to process and base decisions on going forward.  Identifying the woeful management practices of the previous manager are one thing, but it is now time to implement meaningful correction on our watch or we will merely be carrying on a sad legacy.

The first six months of this administration was spent identifying new management, in you Peter we have found another asset and filled that role. The last six plus months have been spent with you, Peter, and David Prinzhorn concurrently getting your bearings within the Town’s operations.  This time spent was necessary and will serve as a strong foundation upon which to build success. That said, the breaking in period should now be over.  We need to get a handle on our infrastructure (which we own and for which will be paying off 60+ Million Dollars for years to come) and put in place systems to ensure it is run properly, run efficiently, and that policy makers and mangers have the tools they need to budget for the same.

By virtue of this email I am asking for an agenda item not later than the first October meeting for the council to direct staff to establish performance measurements for the efficient service, maintenance, and economic performance of the waste water and water utilities.  This should involve monitoring water service outages, pump failure rates, energy usage, maintenance task compliance, water loss, employee training & safety, etc. There is industry data available to develop these categories and set benchmarks to measure against.  Establishing these performance measures and adopting a policy requiring monitoring and reporting will help put operations on a predictable path, and consistent reporting will allow us to ensure efficiency both in terms of dollars and usage of water which is our most vital resource.  I will ask for the draft performance measures to be presented not later than the end of November with a pilot program in place and a first report on those measurements not later than the end of this year.  To that end, if we can get this agenda item scheduled for the next council meeting in September it may give staff a little extra lead time.

I recognize the proposed time frame may seem short, but without this framework being in place and functional for a few months it will not serve its purpose as an effective budgeting tool for that process which we will begin again in the Spring. I want to add that I anticipate there may be some resistance from staff who are set in their ways, but I am more than confident that this can and will be overcome.  Moreover, ultimately this will result in better job performance and with any luck greater satisfaction emanating from working in a controlled environment where positive performance is readily identifiable and rewarded.

Thank you both, and I look forward to working with you to accomplish this task, which is of such paramount importance to achieving the level of efficiency our citizens deserve.





Adam Trenk


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