Back-room deals and closed doors are not the stuff of free governments. Our work is making governments more transparent and accountable to citizens.
Contact: Lucy Caldwell
MEDIA ADVISORY: RULING HALTS TAXPAYER-FUNDED UNION ACTIVISM
Goldwater Institute Lawsuit Puts Police Back on Patrol, Not at Union Desk.
Even in his sunset years, Ronald Reagan understood too well that Congress will never tie its own hands when it comes to debt spending. Lamenting the repeated failure of Congress to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment, Reagan wrote on May 23, 1994:
We can’t depend on Congress to discipline itself . . . we must rely on the states to force Congress to act on our amendment. Fortunately, our Nation’s Founders gave us the means to amend the Constitution through action of state legislatures . . . . That is the only strategy that will work.
In a recent unanimous decision, the Arizona Court of Appeals held that school districts can't spend bond money on unapproved purposes when voters authorized that money for specific projects. This decision protects the state constitutionally-guaranteed rights of taxpayers and ensures that governments can't renege on their bond agreements with the voters.
With a population of 14,500 and a location south of Yuma, until recently I had never even heard of Somerton, Arizona. Yet, this tiny town serves as one of the best examples of what financial transparency by the government ought to look like.
Secret government union collective bargaining is the law in eleven states, including Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. In Arizona, at least eight major cities keep collective bargaining with government unions in the dark. The secrecy imposed by towns like Avondale, Chandler and Maricopa even expressly prohibits any city employee from sharing records of negotiations with the news media and their own city council members.
Contact: Robert Kramer, (602) 633-8961
Secret negotiations over employment contracts between union representatives and government officials are the norm in nearly every state in the union. This keeps taxpayers in the dark about how inflated compensation packages are awarded and even stops journalists from knowing what goes on behind closed doors.
What happened to bring about this challenge?
In September, Goldwater Institute investigative reporter 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. It's called "release time." The Goldwater Institute is taking on the city's contract with the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA). By executing this deal with PLEA, the members of the Phoenix City Council have violated the Arizona Constitution and their duty of loyalty to the taxpayers.
What takes an average of more than 700 days and costs $250,000? If you answered, "getting permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill your wetlands," you'd be right. Fortunately, a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling may reduce the Corps' reach on private land.