Oct. 6, 2004 - An Oro Valley councilmember alleges former Town Attorney Mark Langlitz threatened her after the two disagreed on an issue at a recent council meeting. Langlitz denies ever making threatening statements to the councilmember.
In a letter dated Sept. 28, the day following the alleged incident, Councilmember Conny Culver filed a complaint with Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, Pima County Civil Attorney Amelia cramer, Attorney General Terry Goddard and Oro Valley Police Chief Danny Sharp stating that, following the Sept. 27 special session of the town council, Langlitz approached her in council chambers, with other councilmembers and town residents nearby, leaned over "within inches" of her face, and made "threatening" statements, according to the letter. Culver wrote that Langlitz said to her, "If you think my going to the county is going to get rid of me you're wrong," "I'll be watching you," "I'll get you" and "I'm not going away."
She stated that she responded to the statements by asking Langlitz if he was threatening her, to which she said he replied "take it however you like."
Langlitz served his final day with Oro Valley Oct. 1 after resigning to take a position in the civil division of the county attorney's office Oct. 4.
He said he never threatened Culver, and that while he heard about the complaint, he had not yet seen it as of Oct. 4. He said he was unsure what, if anything, he could do about the complaint, although he said he "wants to protect my integrity and reputation."
During the meeting, Culver and Langlitz had exchanged comments back and forth over the legality of a request by Culver to direct staff to schedule a special session to review the employment agreement of Town Manager Chuck Sweet. The request came at the end of the meeting, interjected after Vice Mayor Paula Abbott made a motion to adjourn. As a point of order, Langlitz told Culver it was a violation of open meetings laws to make the request because the item was not on the agenda for discussion or action. The two debated the issue for a minute before it was dismissed, with Abbott agreeing that it would be a violation of the law to consider the motion made by Culver.
During the meeting, Culver said she had spoken to another attorney regarding the matter, who said it was OK to request the special meeting.
Langlitz said he did approach her after the meeting, but it was to ask who had given her the legal advice, not to threaten her. He said she refused to tell him who she had talked to, saying it was confidential, to which he replied, "It doesn't matter, they're wrong. It's not debatable."
"That was the context," he said when reached by telephone Oct. 4. "I never told her I was going to get her. There was no threatening tone in my voice. Anyone who knows me knows it is not in my personality to make threats."
He said he and Culver had a good working relationship in the past.
Culver, when reached by phone Oct. 4, said the two did have a conversation about who had given her that advice. She said Langlitz acted "extremely aggressive" toward her during that exchange and that when she refused to tell him who she had spoken to, he then proceeded to make the threatening statements.
Councilmember Barry Gillaspie overheard part of the conversation because he was thrust into the middle of it when Culver stepped onto the floor after the meeting and Langlitz came up behind him to question her. He said Langlitz leaned over him and "kind of forcibly" asked Culver twice who had told her she could make the motion for a special session.
Gillaspie said at that point he excused himself from the conversation and did not know what was said after that.
In the letter, Culver wrote that she told several councilmembers and town staff about the incident immediately after it happened, but waited until the following day to think over what, if anything, to do about it.
"I reached the conclusion that such an act could only be interpreted as threatening and menacing," the letter stated. She submitted the letter that day, "in hopes that you will address this incident, in light of the fact that Mr. Langlitz is an officer of the court."
Oro Valley Sgt. Aaron Lesuer was asked to speak to Culver regarding the letter, being held by Sharp as confidential, on Sept. 29. It was reported that at first, Culver did not wish to file a report, but asked that the information in the letter be noted by the department.
She stated she thought it might be a conflict of interest to file a report with the Oro Valley Police Department so she contacted Ken James, an investigator with the county attorney's office, who told her it would not be a conflict.
A detailed incident report was filed with the Oro Valley Police Department Oct. 1 restating much of what was written in the initial complaint filed by Culver.
In the report, Culver stated that she did not wish to press charges against Langlitz and that she "was not interested in this being blown out of proportion or made into anything where she would consider taking further action."
She stated she "was not looking to publicly humiliate Mr. Langlitz but did want him to stay away from her."
She told the officer she was "concerned for her safety and well being."
"No one should ever, ever be afraid to speak their mind in Oro Valley," she said when interviewed Oct. 4.
She said she and Langlitz "had a good working relationship until shortly after my election," when they began to have "obvious disagreements" over some policy issues in the town.
She said she approached the difference in opinion by reminding him that "it is the staff's duty to carry out the wishes of the elected officials."
Langlitz said they did have some disagreements, particularly over what to do about the referendum a group of citizens was trying to get on the ballot regarding three tax-incentive agreements made between the town and three different developers.
Culver said she believes their conflict of opinions is what triggered the conversation after the Sept. 27 meeting.
"There are special interest groups threatening a recall, there is this threat from Mr. Langlitz, it's all coming out of a common thread," she said. "I will not be intimidated from doing what is best for the town."
She said she filed the letter as a record of what she alleges happened and "I am hopeful no further action will be necessary."