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>

PHOENIX—A Yavapai County Superior Court judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by the Congress, Arizona Elementary School District seeking to have four taxpayers barred from requesting public documents and school records about their children.

Until recently, state and local government interaction with the federal government seemed to consist mostly of local and state officials asking D.C. for more money. As a result, many states, counties and cities have ended up on their backs, hog-tied by federal mandates. What James Madison called our "compound republic" cannot stand unless state and local governments recognize their obligation to join with the people in resisting federal overreach.

In a period when financial markets and institutions have appeared near collapse, the accounting methods used by public employee pensions effectively ignore risk. These accounting methods, which are used by public pensions in Arizona and around the country, allow pension fund managers to assume that high returns can be earned through stocks and other investments without taking any market risk. As a result, the true market value of Arizona pension shortfalls that must be funded by taxpayers is understated by around half of what the pension funds have reported.

When four parents requested public information from the Congress Elementary School District, the district sued them. Goldwater Institute investigative reporter Mark Flatten joined the Mike Broomhead Show on KFYI with details.

PHOENIX—A rural school district in Yavapai County, Arizona, has gone to court to stop four taxpayers from seeking any public records from the district, from suing the district and from filing complaints about the district with state oversight

A handful of taxpayers in a small community north of Wickenburg, Arizona are being targeted by the local school district in a lawsuit that asks a judge to declare they have no right to request public records, sue the district, or complain to outside agencies.

The Congress Elementary School District has a history of violating Arizona public records law and other state and federal laws that guarantee parents the right to see school records about their children. These violations have been documented by the state attorney general and the state ombudsman. The violations were brought to attention of state officials over the past decade because of actions by parents and taxpayers such as Jean Warren, Barbara Rejon, Cyndi Regis and Renee Behl-Hoge. At different times, these taxpayers have requested to see various documents widely considered to be basic public records, including agendas and minutes of school board meetings. Rejon, Regis and Behl-Hoge also have asked to see records about their children when they attended school in the district. However, Behl-Hoge’s family no longer lives in Congress and she hasn’t requested to see any school district records in more than six years.

The Goldwater Institute sued the City of Phoenix after the City refused to turn over public documents related to a special tax deal it was making with the Wyndham Hotel. Channel 12 has been covering the story closely and has the latest.

Watch it here

Goldwater Institute attorney Carrie Ann Sitren went live on Channel 3 to explain why the Goldwater Institute sued the City of Phoenix for the release of public records related to a deal the City is making with the Wyndham Hotel in downtown Phoenix.

Watch it here

After arguing in court for the City of Phoenix to release public documents regarding a deal it is making with the Wyndham Hotel, the Goldwater Institute's Carrie Ann Sitren talked to Channel 12 about the lawsuit.

Watch it here

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