City & Local Reform
It turns out that you can fight town hall. Here’s how we’re standing up for local citizens and winning.
Have you ever squeezed a balloon and had parts of it squeeze out between your fingers? Unless you pop the balloon with a pin, it will reemerge somewhere else when you squeeze it. Public employee pensions have become balloons, and abuse of public pension systems keeps oozing despite attempts to put the squeeze on it.
Contact: Lucy Caldwell
MEDIA ADVISORY: RULING HALTS TAXPAYER-FUNDED UNION ACTIVISM
Goldwater Institute Lawsuit Puts Police Back on Patrol, Not at Union Desk.
Like most states across the country, Arizona has long suffered from abysmally low voter turnout in local elections. In the state’s two largest cities – Phoenix and Tucson – voter turnout rates for the most recent local candidate elections hovered at a mere 30 percent.
In a recent unanimous decision, the Arizona Court of Appeals held that school districts can't spend bond money on unapproved purposes when voters authorized that money for specific projects. This decision protects the state constitutionally-guaranteed rights of taxpayers and ensures that governments can't renege on their bond agreements with the voters.
What happened to bring about this challenge?
In September, Goldwater Institute investigative reporter Mark Flatten released an investigative report showing that Phoenix and other Arizona cities spend millions of dollars every year to pay employees to perform union work on city time. It's called "release time." The Goldwater Institute is taking on the city's contract with the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA). By executing this deal with PLEA, the members of the Phoenix City Council have violated the Arizona Constitution and their duty of loyalty to the taxpayers.
Is Philadelphia a model for the Valley? Arizona Republic columnist Jon Talton recently praised that city's government for its plan to implement high-speed wireless Internet for residents. He contrasts it with Phoenix whose "challenges," he complains, keep it from being as business friendly as Philly.
If the past is prologue, then Phoenix voters will probably approve Proposition 3, the alternative city spending limit, overriding state controls that use population growth and inflation rates to limit local government spending increases.
Population growth and inflation are reasonable proxies for increases in the demand and cost of existing services. In fact, the real per-capita cost of existing services, in most cases, should decline due to economies of scale.