Court ruling favors the little guy

Posted on June 12, 2008 | Type: In the News | Author: Laurie Roberts
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Score one for the little guy.

It's been a rough time for regular folk. You know what I mean. Nobody listens. (Think about the last time you reached an actual person who could do anything when calling a government office ... I know. Me neither.)

These days, you can't afford to buy gas, you dare not buy tomatoes and you're worried about whether you'll have a job next month. That's assuming you still have a job this month.

Now in the midst of all that gloom and doom comes one small sliver of sunshine for the unheard, the unheralded, the uninitiated in the ways of the rich and powerful.

Yes, we can challenge a $100 million government giveaway to a shopping mall developer without being punished for it.

A judge on Monday declined to order a conservative think tank to pay close to $700,000 to Phoenix and the Thomas J. Klutznick Co. for having the temerity to suggest that what they are doing is unconstitutional.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Miles understood that this was about so much more than whether the Goldwater Institute -- having taken the city to court and lost (so far) -- should have to reimburse Team

Phoenix/Klutznick for their ridiculously expensive time in having to defend the giveaway.

You know the story. How cities for years have been throwing obscene subsidies at developers to get them to build stores they would build anyway. How Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon was against such giveaways until he was suddenly for them last year.

Thus came forth the largest known retail subsidy in state history: Phoenix agreeing to give half of the sales taxes it collects at CityNorth for 11 years -- up to $97.4 million -- to Klutznick, the developer.

It was enough of an outrage to spur the Legislature to outlaw the practice and the Goldwater Institute to round up some small-business owners to challenge it in court, on grounds that when the framers of the state Constitution wrote that our leaders can't give away our money, they meant even to powerful, well-connected developers.

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