Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon tussled with the Goldwater Institute Tuesday over its lawsuit challenging the city's subsidy for a mixed-use development near Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard.
Gordon faulted Goldwater for releasing information that showed the city spent $100,000 on outside counsel to defend the lawsuit challenging a tax rebate for Chicago-based Thomas J. Klutznick Co., developer of the 5.5 million-square-foot CityNorth project.
A public records request by Goldwater shows the city paid Fennemore Craig PC $100,000 to defend the tax incentive. Goldwater questioned that move, pointing out that the city of Phoenix Law Department has 250 full-time lawyers.
Gordon said only 20 of those city attorneys are in the civil area the rest are criminal prosecutors. City and county governments across the state often farm out work to law firms for complex cases or in areas where in-house counsel are not available, he said.
The mayor also said it was ironic that the group filing the lawsuit, Goldwater, is faulting the city for defending itself in court. He called on the courts to throw out the suit and make the libertarian group pay the city's legal fees.
The Phoenix-based think tank contends the subsidy is unfair and illegal because it amounts to an unconstitutional government gift. The Goldwater group opposes incentives and tax policies that benefit specific companies. The National Federation of Independent Business filed a brief Tuesday supporting Goldwater's suit.