A Day in the Life (of your tax dollars)

From the, “Am I the only one who notices these things?” department.

Pick a day, any day.  I picked one, last Friday, Sept 30, 2011.  I read the AZ Republic from cover to cover and made a list of all the taxpayer money that the AZ Republic reported on just that one day that was given away to special interests of one kind or another.

What’s my definition of a special interest?  Anyone besides me who gets tax money.  What else would it be?

What’s the most amazing thing about this?  With the exception of the “special report” on the Fiesta Bowl, NOWHERE in any of these articles did any of the reporters make the slightest inference nor did they question, why the heck we are spending taxpayer money on any of this.  To me, that’s the real news.  I guess no one at the AZ Republic thinks that it is newsworthy to ask that question or the people who run the paper and its reporters just don’t think there is anything wrong with any of this spending.

But I digress. Let’s begin.

Section A.  The front page section.

Article 1. BCS bowls, non-profits who receive taxpayer money. Tempe has paid the Fiesta Bowl $6.4 million so that they keep playing something called the Incite Bowl in Tempe. I guess someone in Tempe decided that there was a “public purpose” associated with giving away Joe Taxpayer’s money to host a football game. For some reason bars, restaurants, and hotels seem to get extra special care by elected officials. Scottsdale is paying the Fiesta Bowl $8.2 million over 20 years so that the Fiesta Bowl requires teams who play in the Fiesta Bowl to stay in Scottsdale.  Isn’t that a bribe? I wonder how Glendale feels about that?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to stay in Glendale where the game is actually played?  If Scottsdale merchants wanted to attract the teams they could discount their prices to get them to stay that far away.  Oh, I see. Scottsdale is using taxpayer money to allow certain Scottsdale businesses to charge higher rates and make bigger profits. That sounds fair.

The Fiesta Bowl had $22.3 million in total assets last year.  Who do you think is making money on whom?

Article 2. $268 million has been given to AZ Department of Housing by the feds to help homeowners pay their mortgages. So far they have only given away $4 million of it. But an example is shown in this article. Valley residents Mr. and Mrs. Allman (smiling for the photo) get $700 per month to pay their $850 per month mortgage. They got a postcard in the mail, applied for it, and got approved for the money because he is unemployed and she is “underemployed”. I wonder how hard Mr. Allman is looking for a job now?  At least one that does not pay him under the table.  The article does not say how long they can collect.  This same program will pay down your mortgage if you qualify and are “underwater”. Let me say that another way.  This program is able to take your tax dollars and give them to someone to pay down their underwater mortgage so that they can pay a smaller mortgage. So far banks have not been too interested in this part of the program.  I wonder why? Could it be that they don’t think it likely that anyone who is not currently able to pay their existing mortgage is a good credit risk?

Article 3. The US Justice Department is suing multiple states over their immigration laws.  But you already knew that.  I’ll bet that costs a lot.

Article 4.  Prof Peter Snyder of Brown University just won an award for measuring how distracted you get from having a full bladder.  Brown U. got $33 mil last year from the stimulus bill and some of it went to fund studies like this one. Brown typically gets over $135 mil per year from government sources to do research.   Don’t believe me?  Look here. http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2010/02/stimulus

That’s just one small to medium sized east coast university.  $135 million.

Hey, we’re only on page two so far.

Article 5. The Solyndra deal. We all know this one. $500 million to protect Obama contributors who invested in a lame company with uncompetitive technology.

Section B. State and Local.  A little closer to home.

Article 1. Education advocates are trying to extend a “temporary” 1% sales tax that was supposed to send $ to Arizona schools. The $1 billion per year “temporary” tax was implemented in May 2010 and runs out May 2013.  Already supporters of its continuation are working to get it on the November 2012 ballot in order to extend it.

Article 2.  Coyotes Hockey saga article.  How much is that going to cost taxpayers?  Glad I don’t live in Glendale, although you know that at the end of the day all of us will end up paying to have the Coyotes stay (if they do). I think the last deal was $100 million that the Goldwater Institute questioned or perhaps even stopped.  Glendale said they were going to get parking revenues in return for giving $100 million to the potential winning multi millionaire who was going to purchase the team.  Never mind that the city of Glendale already owns the parking lot in question.

Article 3. Citizenship grant money of $200k to the Phoenix chapter of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) from the feds to help ‘refugees’ become citizens.  So far over $9 million has been awarded across the US for this purpose. Who is IRC you might ask? IRC is an organization who knows how to apply for and win federal grants. That is the simple answer.

What’s the definition of a ‘refugee’? Another good question.

Here is IRC’s annual report. IRC FY2010 Financial Statements IRC has over $182 million in total assets of which only $6.6 million is property and the rest is cash or close to cash.  $182 million. In 2010 IRC spent $315 million. I don’t know how much of that came from government grants but of this $315 million of spending, $126 million was for ‘personnel’ expenses. There was no breakdown of how much any of their employees and officers (and board of directors) got paid. And yet, on IRC’s website, they proudly say that 92% of what they collect goes to ‘programs’ and they get high marks since 1933 on their ‘efficiency’.  Go figure.

Article 4.  In an article about PHX mayoral election candidate Wes Gullett, it says that the city of Phoenix currently has 60 commissions and boards and that Gullett’s opponent wants to increase that by adding 11 more.  I wonder how many commissions and boards GY has?  Someone want to check into that for me?

Southwest Valley Section

Article 1. There are 11 ‘resource officers’ at SW Valley schools.  These are cops who are provided to each of these schools from local towns. I wonder what those ‘resource officers’ do when school is not in session?  Are they laid off?  It’s slow around here in the summer, the population decreases a lot vs the winter.  Why would any local towns need 11 extra cops on the street in the summer than the winter? With benefits I’ll bet the average cop makes $85k to $100k.   Times 11 ‘resource officers’ that’s over $1 million per year just to ‘police’ our schools.

This is depressing.  I’ve looked at only three sections on one day (a Friday, which is usually a small paper anyway) and already I’ve found articles describing nearly $2 billion in government spending on groups and organizations that were selected by your elected officials to receive special funding.

Is it any wonder that our federal government, our state, and our city are all on the brink of bankruptcy?  How do you feel about having all these special interests served under the name of ‘public purpose’?  Why are elected officials so intent on “picking winners”?  Why should they give any of your tax money to any purpose that you don’t specifically agree to?  And oh, yeah, what about giving money to public and privately held profit making corporations?  How do you feel about that?

Had enough for now?  More later.


One Response

  1. HD, Thanks for the great information and pulling all this together.

    1. Add Goodyear’s Perryville Prison where a visitor bathroom at Santa Cruz unit has been running unstopped water (3/4″ dia.) for months. All it needs is a water or new cheap faucet. So what has that cost the taxpayers in wasted $$’s not to mention scarce water resources in the desert. Please contact them and the Governor. This is gone way beyond gross negligence. Inmates could be trained in simple plumbing. And no the ADC should not fire the officers on the site — they’ve reported over and over.

    2. Also two new $80,000 buses had to be pulled out of use since the tires are bald and there are no warranties. Who was awarded this contract? And why wouldn’t replacement tires be made available immediately?

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