Monday, October 24, 2016

World View Case Update

Posted By on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge Document fragment from Judge Wood's Gift Clause ruling - JONATHAN HOFFMAN
  • Jonathan Hoffman
  • Document fragment from Judge Wood's Gift Clause ruling

As you may recall, on Aug. 22, Judge Catherine Woods heard oral arguments regarding Pima County’s motion to dismiss the suit filed against Pima County by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of a number of Pima County business owners and tax payers regarding the deal with World View Enterprises. After reading the briefs and hearing the arguments, Judge Woods denied three of the four counts from the bench, the remaining count was taken under advisement. The count under advisement was in regards to Article IX, Section 7 of the Arizona Constitution, commonly known as the “Gift Clause.” On Oct. 14, Woods issued a ruling denying  the Gift Clause count. The Goldwater Institute gave the specifics in a press release:

...finding that we have successfully explained our position that the County “'unquestionably abused’ its discretion in spending taxpayer money and lending its credit when, among other things, it took on $15 million in new debt, commenced the construction of the headquarters and balloon pad to be used by a private for-profit corporation that had an unproven ability to conduct its intended operations, failed to obtain competitive bids, committed to lease the premises to the private for-profit corporation at below market rates, and granted to that corporation the right to operate, maintain, and control access to the pad (which would include keeping any profits it makes from allowing other third parties to use the pad).

But wait, there’s more! In the same press release, the Goldwater Institute announced:

... today we are asking the court to cancel the World View lease and force the County to comply with a state law that requires an appraisal, public auction, and a minimum price when the County leases property. When we were in court for the hearing on whether or not the case would be dismissed, the County admitted that it ignored this law, and Judge Woods has already ruled that the law applied. The County will have 30 days to respond to our request for the lease to be cancelled. 

Pima County has had much more luck demonizing the Goldwater Institute than it has had defending the World View deal. It has had some success in portraying the Goldwater Institute as a bunch of contemptible Maricopans who, when they are not pulling wings off of flies, entertain themselves by poking sticks at Pima County. It should be remembered that the Goldwater Institute cares not one whit if Pima County does, or does not, build a launch pad or manufacturing facility. What it cares about is the flouting of laws that are specifically designed to protect the taxpayers and businesses of Arizona. That is what Pima County has done by arranging contract deals in secret (Project Curvature), offering sweetheart financing deals that do not exist in the natural world, and dispensing with the legally required appraisals, competitive bidding, etc. Remember, too, that the Goldwater Institute is not representing itself; rather, it is representing the plaintiffs, also known as your neighbors.

Jonathan Hoffman is the Weekly's libertarian columnist. 

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