A judge this week ruled that the city of Phoenix can’t pay police officers to conduct union work.
That, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper ruled, is a violation of the state Constitution. Specifically, of the part of the constitution that says you can’t make a gift of public money for private concerns.
Fully six officers work full time for the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association – handling grievances, negotiating contracts and lobbying for benefits and the like. Taxpayers pick up the tab for all of them, a cost that the Goldwater Institute estimates at $1.5 million.
That’s not even considering the other union groups that also get paid “release time”, both in Phoenix and elsewhere.
Union officials have tried to push the idea that all that taxpayer-supplied time is really a public benefit, because it leads to improved relations that indirectly benefit us all.
Yeah, and the city told us that paying a developer nearly $100 million to develop a shopping mall in a tony part of town was also a “public benefit”.
That one didn’t fly and neither does the union subsidy.
"Such activities promote the private interests of PLEA and, as a result, do not constitute public purposes," Judge Cooper wrote this week, in a lawsuit brought by the Goldwater Institute.
So, if cities can’t give gifts of public money to shopping center developers and they can’t pony up for employee unions ….. work with me here but I’m guessing the idea of “investing” $325 million with the owner of the Phoenix Coyotes to realize a return of $115 million is going to be laughed out of court when it inevitably lands there.
I like hockey. I'd hate to see the team fly away just because Glendale city officials have bungled the whole deal. But unless you think there are some aspects of the constitution that we should ignore, this deal should be DOA.
If the NHL wants hockey in the desert, perhaps they should just sell the city the team. It'd be a lot cheaper than propping up the new owners -- and probably constitutional, too.