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>

Compare the candidates

The Star's election reporters Rhonda Bodfield and Hipolito R. Corella have done a six-day series to examine the candidates and their stances on issues in the gubernatorial and congressional races.

For a time, it didn't seem that Arizona leaders had to worry too much about economic development.

The state saw unprecedented growth and job expansion. Budget surpluses were the norm.

P.J. O' Rourke pokes fun at terrorists, U.S. government

Beef and sacred cows arrived equally skewered at the [Phoenix-based] Goldwater Institute's luncheon Thursday as political satirist P.J. O'Rourke flayed terrorists, pork barrel spending and the World War II generation.

The best-selling author's discussion at the Ritz-Carlton Phoenix launched the conservative think tank's speaker series. About 250 people attended the event.

"He's well-loved, even by people who don't love him," said Darcy Olsen, executive director of the Goldwater Institute.

PHOENIX – The Goldwater Institute’s annual Legislative Report Card was released today, taking into account 375 votes during the first session of Arizona’s fiftieth legislature.

Now in its ninth year, the report card is a citizen-friendly tool for evaluating state legislators’ votes and their impact on individual liberty.

In his blog Ideas, Santa Clara University economist David Friedman (yes, he's Milton's son) wrote about the cost of eyeglasses. He was curious why a new frame and set of lenses costs less than $10 online, but five times that amount or more at most stores.

A few weeks ago, the Phoenix City Council agreed to give Thomas J. Klutznick Co.­ $100 million for building a high-end shopping center. Backers of the deal say failure to subsidize retail would send developers to other cities or to Arizona's Indian reservations.

With a total sales tax of 8.1 percent, Phoenix has the highest sales tax rate of competitor cities. It may very well be true that Phoenix is losing business to neighboring cities. Poor tax policy has that effect.

What could Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and City Council members have been thinking when they authorized a $100 million tax subsidy for CityNorth, a private development planned for northeast Phoenix?

We may never know, but businesses planning to expand or relocate have become expert at conning government officials into thinking they wont come but for government incentives. The take nationally comes to $50 billion yearly, according to Alan Peters and Peter Fisher of the University of Iowa.

If you wonder when looking at a restaurant menu whether the bacon cheeseburger or the garden salad would be more heart healthy, help from the government may be on the way.

A bill has been introduced in the legislature requiring chain restaurants to list levels of calories, trans fats and sodium for all items on their menus. The theory is that with burgeoning rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, the government should mandate that restaurants supply info on what's bad for us.

The British Pop band Naked Eyes was ahead of its time. Its 1983 hit song "Promises, Promises" sums up the Governor's health insurance proposal:

You made me promises, promises
Knowing I'd believe
Promises, promises
You knew you'd never keep.

Governor Napolitano wants to enroll an additional 100,000 children in the states Medicaid program. No one begrudges children accessing health care, but there are better plans in the private sector.

The Oscars are still a month away, so here are a few awards to tide you over. Drum roll, please.­ The winners of the Golden Turkey Award for taxpayer-funded lobbying are the Department of Transportation, Maricopa County, and the City of Tucson.­ In Arizona, these three government bodies are the top-spenders of tax dollars on lobbyists.­ And while they may be winners of the Golden Turkey Award, the losers are Arizona taxpayers.­

One million dollars. That's what the City of Phoenix spends each year just to remove non-recyclables from its recycling barrels. One reason is, as with many government programs, it isn't always simple for consumers to figure out how to play by the book.

Phoenix gladly accepts pop and milk bottles, egg cartons, and foam meat trays. But shampoo bottles, margarine containers, and many plastic plates aren't allowed. In other words, plastics 1, 2, and 6 are in, while plastics 3, 4, and 5 are out. Who knew?