Government Accountability

Back-room deals and closed doors are not the stuff of free governments. Our work is making governments more transparent and accountable to citizens.

<p>Back-room deals and closed doors are not the stuff of free governments. Our work is making governments more transparent and accountable to citizens.</p>

Fifteen percent is the magic number, according to the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The ACC voted this week to require Arizona utilities to produce 15 percent of their energy from "renewable resources." Why 15 percent?

There's nothing magic about 15 percent. In fact, the number is arbitrary and expected to impose $50 million in surcharges on consumers every year.

Arizonans are naturally concerned about resource sustainability. But regulation is a poor approach to sustainability.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor unquestionably was the most powerful woman in America but she was not the centrist or liberal that many have portrayed her as being.

Though the swing justice in many controversial cases, O'Connor far more often voted with her conservative colleagues than not, particularly in cases pitting state autonomy against federal impositions.

Realtors are trying to limit online real estate listings to keep out online brokers, who often charge less than the traditional full-service 6 percent commission. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether the practice is anti-competitive and violates anti-trust laws.  

It's time to raise a glass of wine. The Supreme Court this week declared unconstitutional state regulatory schemes that allow in-state wineries to ship directly to consumers, but ban out-of-state wineries from doing the same. The Goldwater Institute filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, arguing these anti-competitive laws violate the Commerce Clause and cannot be saved by the 21st Amendment, which ended Prohibition.

In 1998, the City of Tempe and America West Airlines entered into an agreement to redevelop part of downtown Tempe. The city agreed to convey property to America West for free and then pay America West approximately $15 million over twenty years. In return, America West pledged to develop the property and convey ownership of the improvements back to the city. Tempe agreed to then lease the property back to America West.

Illinois has given us just one more example of how allowing government to reward large contracts to private companies opens the door to corruption and abuse. This week, the state's auditor general issued a report finding that the agency responsible for cutting government waste instead spent lavishly and awarded multimillion-dollar contracts to consultants who might have had an inside track. 

Cities throughout the valley are considering ordinances that will require fire sprinklers in new residential homes. It's no surprise that the leading proponents of such mandates are fire-sprinkler business owners.

In one of his regular email correspondences, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon wrote Friday, "I said that in order to be a GREAT city,  THIS city needs to excel in three areas: Education, Public Safety and Jobs."

The mayor's prescription? "This downtown Phoenix Campus of ASU is the catalyst for the first - and the foundation for the other two.

If you want to know why a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) is a good idea for Arizona, see this Goldwater Institute report released yesterday. In it, you'll find out how TABOR maintains a fiscally responsible limit on the state budget, could have put $4.5 billion back in Arizonans pockets, creates predictable and sustainable budget projections, and shifts power away from budget-siphoning special interests towards voters.

We've all been there.  Usually after purchasing the newest electronic gizmo, we eventually file through the endless receipts, instructions, and warranty cards to find the rebate offers.  Only, you now realize that perhaps your purchase doesn't qualify or you missed the eligible time frame.  Such an experience may prompt you to curse the manufacturer and retailer, but you resolve to be more aware of such offers in the future.