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In response Bowman named lakes program manager Joe Weber, who right away sent Maxfield "Reservoir and Pump Station Tenant Expectations." Among the eight expectations are carrying and responding to a city pager and conducting one random patrol of the recreation and dam areas on days off.

By February 24 Maxfield had written the Lake Hodges house lease. It stated $255 as the rent amount, noting it as approximately 20 percent of $1300. That was in anticipation, wrote Maxfield, "that Conway Bowman shall only be using this property for personal purposes for 20 percent of the time." Bowman would not have to pay the other 80 percent of fair market rental value due to his work responsibilities. Maxfield also included the following proviso: "This arrangement was negotiated by and agreed to by the Water Department, not by Real Estate Assets. Real Estate Assets leave the validity of the assignment of value in proportion to services rendered and facility overhead to be evaluated and validated by the City Auditor."

When Joe Hughes (the tenant before Bowman) rented the property, Maxfield tells me later, the lease failed to mention not only exchange of services but also what the fair market value was. "It specified only $255 for renting the house," he says. "So the City couldn't have been taking taxes out for the rest of its fair market value."

Still not comfortable with what he had done, Maxfield on March 7 sent an e-mail to the Water Department's Charles Yackly stating, "I want to make you aware of this arrangement. I think we should meet with Auditors, the City Attorney, and get the wrinkles worked out."

When I ask Yackly later by phone whether the City is properly reporting the reservoir keepers' tax obligations, he tells me he is "not familiar with that aspect of the matter. I hope so."

In explaining his own firing by the Real Estate Assets Department later in the month, Brett Maxfield cites "rooting out too many skeletons in the City's closet," including cooperating with a Reader Public Records Act request in the recent Carlton Oaks Golf Course lease case. The City ended up not renewing the lease on its old terms largely due to Maxfield's insistence that it gave the City a low return.

In a March 27 "Notice of Probationary Failure" to Maxfield, Real Estate Assets Department acting director Mike Boyle did not mention the skeletons in the City's closet. Instead, among other things, he cited Maxfield's "dubious charges of tax fraud and unilateral involvement of City Auditors, outside the chain of command."

Reached later by phone, Boyle and Craig Gibson decline to comment on details of the Maxfield case, both characterizing them as confidential personnel matters. Gibson resigned from the City in late March. It was his own decision, he says.

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