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>

Next time you read about Arizona’s looming water “catastrophe,” take a drive south on I-10 and look at all the cotton farms. In 2004, the federal government spent $64 million subsidizing cotton in Arizona, a water-intensive crop better suited to Mississippi than the Sonoran Desert.

A new ruling by a federal court in Washington State may shed light on whether Arizona’s wine laws are constitutional. 

Plaintiffs are asking the federal district court in Phoenix to declare Arizona’s wine distribution system unconstitutional because it discriminates against out-of-state wineries. 

Arizonans may soon be raising their glasses to more than 10,000 varieties of wine. Black Star Farms, a Michigan winery, and several East Valley residents have filed a federal court challenge to the constitutionality of Arizona's wine shipping regulations.  

The challenge comes in the wake of Granholm v. Heald, in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar programs in New York and Michigan. But Arizona still has not acted to repeal its unconstitutional laws.

Ordinary citizens can have a difficult time making sense of the political process. The legislature particularly can seem arcane and dense with detail. Voters frequently become apathetic when faced with unraveling a mountain of confusing, competing claims.

Fifteen percent is the magic number, according to the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The ACC voted this week to require Arizona utilities to produce 15 percent of their energy from "renewable resources." Why 15 percent?

There's nothing magic about 15 percent. In fact, the number is arbitrary and expected to impose $50 million in surcharges on consumers every year.

Arizonans are naturally concerned about resource sustainability. But regulation is a poor approach to sustainability.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor unquestionably was the most powerful woman in America but she was not the centrist or liberal that many have portrayed her as being.

Though the swing justice in many controversial cases, O'Connor far more often voted with her conservative colleagues than not, particularly in cases pitting state autonomy against federal impositions.

Realtors are trying to limit online real estate listings to keep out online brokers, who often charge less than the traditional full-service 6 percent commission. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether the practice is anti-competitive and violates anti-trust laws.  

It's time to raise a glass of wine. The Supreme Court this week declared unconstitutional state regulatory schemes that allow in-state wineries to ship directly to consumers, but ban out-of-state wineries from doing the same. The Goldwater Institute filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, arguing these anti-competitive laws violate the Commerce Clause and cannot be saved by the 21st Amendment, which ended Prohibition.

In 1998, the City of Tempe and America West Airlines entered into an agreement to redevelop part of downtown Tempe. The city agreed to convey property to America West for free and then pay America West approximately $15 million over twenty years. In return, America West pledged to develop the property and convey ownership of the improvements back to the city. Tempe agreed to then lease the property back to America West.

Illinois has given us just one more example of how allowing government to reward large contracts to private companies opens the door to corruption and abuse. This week, the state's auditor general issued a report finding that the agency responsible for cutting government waste instead spent lavishly and awarded multimillion-dollar contracts to consultants who might have had an inside track. 

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