Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

This morning, I wrote about an Arizona Republic editorial. So let me round out the afternoon by writing about another.

Earlier this week, the Republic op-ed folks penned an editorial titled “Goldwater, come down from Mount Olympus.” It took the Goldwater Institute to task for raising questions about Glendale’s potential deal with the Coyotes hockey team. According to the newspaper, all those persistent questions—and the threat of a lawsuit—may endanger the deal—and then the Coyotes would head north to Winnipeg.

I wrote before about the strange world we occupy right now, in trying to keep a hockey team in the desert. And now we see a joint effort by cities and the hometown newspaper to keep the complaining to a minimum.

But I kept expecting to read something else in the Republic editorial. Something like, maybe, “Thank you, Goldwater Institute.”

That’s not to say the GI doesn’t have a bull-in-a-china-shop tendency. They do. But asking how public money is spent, or demanding answers about how public resources will be safeguarded? That used to be considered praiseworthy. In fact, that used to be the job of the newspaper.

I am no expert on whether the Coyotes deal is a good one for the City of Glendale or for the Valley (though I’m pretty sure it’s a good deal for the Coyotes owners). But requiring clear answers to questions before plunging in is a valuable role.

After all, look at the concessions the Institute wrought with a little saber-rattling: tens of millions of dollars of additional guarantees.

Is that enough? Should the Institute say uncle? I don’t know. But imagine where we’d be in this Valley if municipalities—and our booster-ish newspaper—stepped up and asked hard questions when private entities have their hand out.

They should try it—there’s room aplenty up on Olympus.

Read the complete editorial here.


Sandra Day O'Connor urges legislative restraint at a Morrison Institute panel on merit selection of judges, Feb. 22, 2011.

Today, the Arizona Republic published an editorial that echoes what Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch has told the Legislature about the judicial merit-selection system: It’s not broken, so why are you tinkering with it?

(The same message has been made by others, including retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, at a panel discussion we covered here.)

More specifically, the editorial offered a defense of the State Bar’s role in that process. As it points out, the Bar does not select judges in the state. But it plays a role in selecting lawyers to sit on judicial nominating commissions—where those lawyers sit as a minority alongside members of the public.

Recommendations arising from those commissions then go to the governor, who selects judges to sit on the Arizona Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, and Superior Courts in Maricopa and Pima counties.

Despite an unfortunate typo, I’m sure the State Bar leadership appreciates the Republic’s touting State Bar involvement, which “ensures the commissions will include lawyers deemed competent by fallow lawyers.”

(Fallow, of course, can mean “undeveloped or inactive, but potentially useful.” For the record, those are not the kinds of lawyers the Bar strives to appoint.)

Read the complete editorial here.