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>

Did the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office recent use of Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) funds to send staff members to Honduras violate the law-enforcement purposes to which such funds are limited?

Did the sheriffs highly publicized saturation patrolscomprised of nearly 200 deputies and posse memberstrespass the jurisdiction of the Phoenix Police Department? The feud between the Sheriffs Office and local police departments, bereft of coordination or agreement over priorities, threatens to devolve into law enforcement anarchy.

Arizona's racketeering or RICO laws generate millions of dollars each year for local police and prosecutors by allowing their offices to seize and keep money and property allegedly used in or generated by criminal activity. The RICO laws require prosecutors to meet only the most minuscule of legal burdens in court before being allowed to pocket the proceeds.

Most economists are content to remain in the ivory tower and most politicians are content to let public opinion lead. Vaclav Klaus, a Ph.D. economist and President of the Czech Republic, has led public opinion and acted on his convictions. Today, the Czech Republic is one of the freest and fastest growing countries in Europe.

A recent editorial in the Arizona Daily Star takes the view that payday loans should be outlawed in Arizona, as scheduled, in 2010. Payday loans are very small loans that accept future paychecks as collateral and charge high fees and rates of interest. .

Two political rivals have united behind the idea of putting more information in the hands of taxpayers. John McCain and Barack Obama have joined with two other senators to introduce S 3077, the Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008.

This follows on the heels of a law passed in 2006 that created the website, USASpending.gov, up and running right now and full of good information, as the Arizona Republic has pointed out.

It all started with the rescue of Bear Stearns. The government's reckoning that the foundational principles of our economic system could be ignored, just this once, was a colossal blunder. Now we have full-blown bailout mania.

Last week's ruling by Maricopa Superior Court Judge Robert H. Oberbillig in favor of Tom and Elizabeth Preston goes beyond rectifying their thwarted efforts to open a tattoo studio in Tempe. It vindicates every Arizonan who ever has been subjected to an arbitrary decision by a government official.

The Arizona Senate recently rejected bills that would have allowed new, state-owned roads to be constructed with private money as toll roads. Lets hope the idea resurfaces soon.

Toll roads make sense. They provide access to large sources of private capital a real boon to a financially strapped state. Arizona could get several highways built today without spending a penny, if it would simply let the private sector help.

After spending a reported $180 million in taxpayer funds building an arena for a hockey team, will Glendale throw good money after bad to keep the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes afloat?  Team CEO Jerry Moyes, who announced the bankruptcy Tuesday, apparently thinks so.

Arizona's founders envisioned a system where only investors would lose out from a private enterprise gone sour. Yet Glendale officials unfairly spread the financial risk to all City residents, and it seems likely the bailout will continue.

Putting the proverbial coal in the Christmas stocking of millions of Arizonans, the state's Corporation Commission this week imposed new surcharges on utility consumers to fund compliance with its sweeping renewable energy regulations.

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