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>

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.

Excerpted from "Coyotes Ugly," Phoenix Magazine, October 2012


Darcy Olsen is a casual hockey fan at best. Mention the term “crease violation,” and she will think of poorly-ironed slacks, not an errant attacker who wanders too close to the goal. Blue lines? Laser skin therapy will take those out.

In her 20th veto of the year, Governor Napolitano rejected commonsense limitations on when employees may sue former employers for wrongful termination. 

Judicial Watch, the Washington, D.C.-based group that describes itself as a conservative watchdog, has taken on all types of government corruption and waste.