Speakers at the first meeting of the Scottsdale Charter Review Task Force urged members to consider changes that would limit the scope of local government and protect private property rights.
The featured speakers at the meeting were advocates from the Goldwater Institute, a conservative Arizona-based think tank, and the ORANGE Coalition, a non-profit that supports protection of private property rights. Both groups have ties to Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, who spearheaded the creation of the Charter Review Task Force.
Nick Dranias, director of Goldwater Institute's Center of Constitutional Government, said Scottsdale's review of the city charter is an opportunity to put more restraint on local government.
The key is to "think of local government as government," which needs checks and balances, Dranias said. Some city governments, including Scottsdale's, are larger than entire states. Left unchecked, those city governments can become "dangerous and inefficient," Dranias said.
The Goldwater Institute recently published a report called "A New Charter for American Cities," which suggests policies and reforms to restrain government in cities and towns.
Some of the suggestions include provisions that would stop subsidies to developers or encourage "managed competition."
Managed competition allows public entities to enter in the competitive contract bidding process against private contractors. The Goldwater report says the concept provides an "effective fiscal firewall between the budget and constituencies employed by the government, who pressure politicians to engage in the worst forms of fiscal irresponsibility."
Lane was a one of four guest speakers at a Goldwater policy forum in March to discuss "A New Charter for American Cities." Since becoming mayor earlier this year, Lane has advocated similar philosophies relating to cutting the size and scope of city government.
Mark Killian, director of the ORANGE Coalition and former speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, also spoke at the meeting, encouraging the task force to include charter revisions that would protect private property rights.
One proposed change would bolster the ability of property owners to sue governments under the 2007 Private Property Rights Protection Act. Proposition 207 of the voter-approved act requires landowners to be compensated for their property if its value is reduced by a government agency. Some government agencies ask landowners to waive their ability to file a claim under Prop. 207.
ORANGE - Organized Residents Against Needless Government Encroachment - was founded by Ray Torres, a business consultant who was one of Lane's biggest supporters in the last mayoral election.
The Charter Review Task Force is charged with reviewing and recommending revisions to the city charter, a document that acts as Scottsdale's constitution. Any charter recommendations will require voter approval before they go into affect.
The task force is schedule to meet Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. at Scottsdale City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.