City & Local Reform

It turns out that you can fight town hall. Here’s how we’re standing up for local citizens and winning.

<p>It turns out that you can fight town hall. Here’s how we’re standing up for local citizens and winning. </p>

In the face of a plummeting economy, huge budget deficits, and massive layoffs, the City of Mesa has decided to give more than $80 million in subsidies to two developers to build a luxury hotel, resort, and convention center at the Mesa Proving Grounds.

Like most Arizona cities, Phoenix is in desperate financial shape, faced with severe cuts in essential public services. But somehow it found the money to pay tens of thousands of dollars to a private law firm to appeal the CityNorth decision to the Arizona Supreme Court--which, if it "wins," will cost the taxpayers $97.4 million in subsidies to the developer. No wonder the City is in such a financial mess.

Avondale is the latest municipality to consider acquiring art by plunder rather than purchase. A proposed ordinance, modeled after laws in other Arizona cities, would require developers to pay one percent of the project construction costs, up to $100,000, into a public art fund. Alternatively, the developer can contribute art of commensurate value.

Art is great. That's why millions of Americans contribute voluntarily to art museums.

The City of Phoenix decided a vibrant arts district would be a nifty idea to revitalize its downtown core. Too often, cities are tempted to achieve such a goal by taxpayer subsidies, eminent domain, tax hikes, or draconian zoning requirements. Instead, Phoenix decided to try a different approach --deregulation.

How do you close a $35 million budget gap? Perhaps the better question is why that hole was dug in the first place. One answer for the City of Glendale is hockey. In fiscal year 2012, the city added $20 million (up from only $1.2 million the year before) to its operating budget for the Jobing.com Arena, where the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team plays. The NHL has been demanding financial support from the city since 2009, when the team filed for bankruptcy.

By Stephen Slivinski, Byron Schlomach, and Nick Dranias

Arizonans, through their state and local governments, are in debt to the tune of $66.5 billion. That’s over $10,000 for every man, woman, and child in the state. To put that in perspective, the average person’s income in Arizona is less than $36,000 per year.

Whenever local bureaucrats or special-interest groups want to neutralize conservative legislators, one of their most-potent weapons is two words: “local control.”

By Nick Dranias and Lucy Morrow Caldwell

George Lee made a comfortable living running a pair of commercial buildings in Prescott Valley, until government debt helped drag him down.

In December, the Goldwater Institute filed a constitutional challenge to the City of Phoenix's practice of "release time" within the police union. This practice takes six city police officers off the streets and puts them behind desks to work as full-time union managers, 35 to work as part-time union representatives, and one to work full time as a union lobbyist — all while collecting city salaries and benefits.

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