Farmers pay Arizona city official with goat for outside job

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PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona city official making $107,000 a year resigned after an investigation found he used city workers for an outside job involving an attempt to secure irrigation water for farmers who paid him with a goat.

The investigation found that the possibility of cash down the road also was discussed by Frank Stevens, the now-former former water resource portfolio manager for the city of Surprise, the Arizona Republic reported.

According to a report obtained by the newspaper through a public records request, a private investigator hired by Surprise found that Stevens had city workers prepare some of the organic farmers’ eight acres of leased land for use as a demonstration site for a drip irrigation system that Stevens tried to get a company to provide as part of a proposed partnership with him.

The farmers hired Stevens as a consultant to help them get irrigation water from an property association, paying him with a goat for his work and agreeing to provide additional compensation if he was successful, according to the investigation.

One of the farmers told the investigator that they gave Stevens the goat because “he liked the animal and it would keep his kids happy when they came home from school,” Stevens said.

The investigation concluded that Stevens violated city policy in several ways, including by having water workers do non-city work by having other employment that could compromise his judgment, actions or job performance.

Asked whether it was appropriate to use city workers in connection with his consultant work, Stevens told the investigator that he knew “the lines are gray or muddy.”

Stevens resigned his city job in February, according to the Republic, and another city official who supervised Stevens also resigned.

The Republic said Stevens declined comment. The Associated Press was not able to obtain a working phone number for Stevens.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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