Government Accountability

Back-room deals and closed doors are not the stuff of free governments. Our work is making governments more transparent and accountable to citizens.

<p>Back-room deals and closed doors are not the stuff of free governments. Our work is making governments more transparent and accountable to citizens.</p>

A government that operates behind closed doors cannot be the government of a free people. The Goldwater Institute has prompted several reforms shining light into the inner workings of government, including the nation’s most comprehensive online database of line-by-line government spending and restrictions on politicians using tax money for self-promotion. Our regular watchdog reports are helping citizens hold their elected officials accountable.

PHOENIX -- In July 2007, Attorney Clint Bolick, litigation director for the Goldwater Institutes Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, filed a lawsuit on behalf of six small business owners against the city of Phoenix for entering into an agreement with the Thomas J. Klutznick Company to build 3,180 parking spaces at the developers CityNorth retail center in north Phoenix, in exchange for $97.4 million in taxpayer subsidies, claiming it violated the gift clause of the Arizona Constitution.

When most people think of hot-button political issues, they probably don't think of interior decorators. But California is the latest battleground in a national war that has raged across numerous states, not to mention The Wall Street Journals editorial page and George Wills columns.

Gov. Janet Napolitano has a strange idea of how to deal with the state's expected huge revenue shortfalls this year and next year.

Granted she did say in her State of the State address this week that she planned to ask state departments to reduce spending to help deal with an estimated $1 billion shortfall in tax revenues this year - one-tenth of Arizona's $10.6 billion budget. That's a wise fiscal step, if it is truly implemented.

CityNorth will be a 144-acre complex of hotels, shops, restaurants, department stores, outdoor spaces, residences and parking garages. It is in the heart of Desert Ridge, the master-planned community surrounding the corner of Deer Valley Road and Tatum Boulevard, north of Loop 101.

Not only will CityNorth be large - by comparison, Kierland Commons covers 38 acres, and Desert Ridge Marketplace has 110 acres - it will be exclusive, with five-star hotels and retailers such as Nordstrom.

PHOENIX -- Tucson continues to spend more public money on state lobbyists than the larger city of Phoenix at least on paper.

Tucson spent $239,880 on lobbyists and gifts to lawmakers in 2006, a drop from the $275,585 it spent in 2005, according to the most recent numbers reported by the Arizona Secretary of State's Office.

City officials say the money is paying off in the form of favorable legislation and a larger share of state revenue for things like Downtown redevelopment and transportation.

East Valley school districts are spending tens of thousands of dollars to lobby the Legislature this year, in hope the lawmakers will send more of the state's precious funding their way. The Mesa Unified School District, the state's largest district, has budgeted up to $45,000 to spend on lobbying by Jaime Molera, a former state superintendent of public instruction. The district hired Molera, in part, to work with lawmakers on issues related to Career Ladder, a performance pay plan that is a large piece of how the district pays its teachers, he said.

A forum on direct wine shipping Tuesday at the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix was anything but a dry recitation of policy.

After a panel discussion, several supporters of direct shipment delivered animated comments and grievances to panelist Karen Gravois of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, the only speaker not in favor of direct shipping.

"How do you justify the economic discrimination between what's available in state and what's available out of state?" asked Larry Winer of the Arizona State University law school.

En 1980, el doctor Jose Piñera elaboró un plan de ahorro y pensión para los trabajadores en Chile. Hoy, después de más de dos décadas, su proyecto, conocido comúnmente como el "sistema de la libretita", se ha establecido en 15 países y más de 60 millones de trabajadores se benefician de él.

En reconocimiento a su constante lucha por el bienestar del trabajador, el doctor Piñera recibió el premio "Goldwater Award" que cada año otorga el Instituto Goldwater de Arizona.

Corporation Commissioner Jim Irvin is in the hot seat with the threat of impeachment in the air, but lawmakers are missing the opportunity to address the root of the problem - the commission itself.

While Irvin stands accused of interfering with a Valley utility company acquisition, the commission regularly impedes commerce, maintains monopolies and doles out protective subsidies to favored groups at the expense of Arizona residents.

Of course, the commission's operations are all legal under the Arizona Constitution.

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