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>

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.

The Goldwater Institute recently filed a lawsuit challenging Phoenix’s “release time” practice that sends six city police officers to work as full-time union managers, 35 to work as part-time union representatives, and one to work as a union lobbyist. Although these employees are released from city duties to perform union duties, taxpayers continue to pay the officers’ salaries and benefits.

PHOENIX — Calling it an unconstitutional giveaway that harms taxpayers and takes police resources off the streets, two Phoenix residents today filed suit against the City of Phoenix and the city’s largest police union, seeking to end the widespread practice of allowing public-sector employees to do union work while on the city payroll.
 
Working with the Goldwater Institute, William R. Cheatham and Marcus Huey filed suit in Maricopa County Superior Court.
 

In September, my colleague Mark Flatten released an investigative report showing that Phoenix and other Arizona cities spend millions of dollars every year to pay employees to perform union work on city time. Less than three months later, we are going to court on behalf of Phoenix taxpayers to put an end to the practice of union “release time.”

PHOENIX — In Arizona and across the country, small business owners and entrepreneurs spend billions of dollars and countless hours complying with regulations. But a new recommendation from the Goldwater Institute could offer these businesses help – and boost the jobs outlook along the way.

Natasha Nimer had a simple question: As a trustee in a local labor union representing City of Phoenix employees, did she have a duty to check the books of a taxpayer-funded insurance account it managed?

So she asked the executive board of AFSCME Local 2960. The response was an emphatic “no.”

She dropped the matter and thought it would end there.

She was wrong.

Phoenix taxpayers spend millions of dollars to pay full salary and benefits for city employees to work exclusively for labor unions, a Goldwater Institute investigation found.

Collective bargaining agreements with seven labor organizations require the city to pay union officers and provide members with thousands of additional hours to conduct union business instead of doing their government jobs.

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