Las Vegas developer Jim Rhodes has been granted extra time to figure out how to provide utility service to the master-planned community he wants to build in northwest Arizona.
Dwight Nodes, an administrative law judge, on Friday granted Rhodes’ request for a 90-day postponement of utility permit considerations by the Arizona Corporation Commission so Rhodes can consider other options. Nodes said he wanted an update from Rhodes by Nov. 2.
Rhodes’ July 2005 application to operate the Perkins Mountain Water and Perkins Mountain Wastewater companies grew more complicated in late June when commissioners learned that Erin Kenny, a former Clark County commissioner who is bound for federal prison, worked as a consultant for Rhodes for more than $200,000 a year and had been on his payroll for years after she pleaded guilty to felony corruption charges.
Whether an applicant is “fit and proper” can be considered by the Arizona commission in determining whether a certificate should be awarded for ownership and operation of a utility in Arizona. During a Friday hearing in Phoenix, Rhodes’ lawyer Jeffrey Crockett said delays in the certification have significantly stalled a business plan that originally anticipated that scores of homes would be built by now in Golden Valley, 107 miles southeast of Las Vegas.
Crockett said the postponement will allow Rhodes to determine whether others might provide utility service to the master-planned community. “We need to get alternative water and wastewater service other than through this application to get the business plan moving forward,” Crockett said.
Commissioner Kris Mayes questioned whether the delay was an effort by Rhodes to avoid facing questions about his employment of Kenny.
“It certainly appears, Mr. Crockett, that you’re trying to sidestep having Mr. Rhodes reappear,” Mayes said. “If that’s the case, why don’t you just withdraw your applications?”
Crockett said Rhodes may decide to stick with the application and knows his testimony would be required. “If we proceed with the applications, we will bring him back,” Crockett said.
Crockett said Rhodes demonstrated his cooperation when he provided some six hours of testimony during hearings in March. Rhodes’ application has been the subject of near unprecedented scrutiny by the commission, Crockett said.
Mayes responded that the Rhodes case is unique in many ways and was complicated by the “extraordinary” revelations by Kenny during her testimony in criminal proceedings in Las Vegas. Mayes said the high salary Rhodes was paying Kenny and Kenny’s recent 30-month federal prison sentence need to be explored by the commission.
The commission staff is seeking transcripts of the criminal trial in which Kenny testified and transcripts of her July 18 sentencing hearing for commission consideration.
Kenny has until Sept. 18 to be booked into the federal prison system.
During the hearing Friday, there was no discussion about the fact that Kenny will be in prison by the time the application postponement is up. Mayes had previously said that the commission might need to hear from Kenny.