In late 2009, several media stories announced that the City of Phoenix was offering a sizable tax break to the Wyndham Hotel through a sales-lease back arrangement. The news reports claimed the Wyndham would use the tax incentive to complete $10 million in remodeling and renovations.
The Goldwater Institute, concerned illegal tax breaks could be given to the hotel at taxpayer expense, made a public records request to the City, asking to see the development agreement and any other related documents. The City refused, saying no agreement had been reached and that no records will be made public until a development agreement is executed.
Without access to the records and transparency in government in general, Phoenix taxpayers will not know what tax breaks might be offered, and won't be able to raise objections to them, until it is too late and a contract has been signed.
After a court hearing, the City of Phoenix decided to make all the records available to the Goldwater Institute. The Goldwater Institute has also asked that its public records request for all documents related to the Wyndham Hotel deal be ongoing.
- The affirmation of Arizona's public records law.
- Transparency in government.
- The responsible use of taxpayer money.
- The affirmation of sunshine laws.
February 5, 2010: The Goldwater Institute files complaint against the City of Phoenix in Maricopa County Superior Court
February 9, 2010: Hearing in front of Judge Kenneth Mangum at 10 a.m. 101 W. Jefferson, Phoenix, Courtroom 514.
February 17, 2010: Judge Mangum rules the City must release any public documents related to this case to the Goldwater Institute by Feb. 19, 2010, and to show to the court by Feb. 19 any documents that the City claims would be exempt from being disclosed.
August 23, 2010: Goldwater Institute awarded attorneys fees.
How can I help?
- The stakes are high, help build positive press. Write letters to the editor for your local newspaper and let them know how you feel.
- The Goldwater Institute's Scharf-Norton Constitutional Litigation Center is able to defend your constitutional freedom because of the generous donations of private individuals. R. Evan Scharf and John R. Norton III have arranged for a $1 million challenge grant to establish and fund the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. To donate to the litigation center or become a member of the Goldwater Institute, please call (602) 462-5000.