The Bill of Rights, illustrated and elucidated in a new book by Bob McWhirter and published by the American Bar Association.

The Bill of Rights, illustrated and elucidated in a new book by Bob McWhirter and published by the American Bar Association.

This Friday evening, you have the opportunity to meet a real, live historian!

Not grabby enough?

How about: Friday night is when you can chat up Bob McWhirter, author of many great Arizona Attorney Magazine articles and (most important) a new book from the ABA titled Bills, Quills, and Stills: An Annotated, Illustrated, and Illuminated History of the Bill of Rights.

As is evident, this guy knows his way around an adjective.

Bob also will offer a presentation that evening titled “Just What’s So Exceptional About America? Rights, ‘the People,’ and the Bill of Rights.”

He is a great writer. But his presentations are a creative tour de force (no pressure, Bob).

A full-service evening? You bet. And the icing on the cake? Bob will happily sign one of his books and sell it to you.

Arizona Attorney Magazine Feb. 2011 cover with Bob McWhirterAll of these things occur:

Where: Changing Hands Bookstore Phoenix, 300 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix 85013 (near the intersection of Camelback and 3rd Ave.)

When: Friday, Sept. 18, 2015 (the day after Constitution Day!) at 7:00 p.m.

You can read more about Bob and his book here.

I also get a kick out of how the Changing Hands website features that terrific picture we shot of Bob for the magazine Q&A I did with him. As the topic was his legal work in El Salvador, we decided where better to hold our taped conversation that a Salvadoran restaurant? Legal learning has never been tastier. Here’s the story (and yes, I got him to explain his fondness for hats).

And if you’ve never been to this branch of Changing Hands, I urge you to head over Friday night. The venue includes the First Draft Book Bar, which is just what it sounds like.

Changing Hands First Draft Book Bar-logo

NOTE: I just got news that Bob will also be speaking tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 17, at the Arizona Capitol Museum located in the Capitol building at 11 am. To commemorate the 228th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, he will speak on the Ninth Amendment—regarding rights retained by people not listed in the First through Eighth Amendments.

At that event, Chief Justice Scott Bales will also present. His topic will be the Arizona Constitution.

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.

The past week has seen a skirmish turn into an outright battle between the City of Glendale and the Goldwater Institute. The War of the Gs is over a deal involving public monies and a hockey team. The desert has never been more lively.

Most recently, both entities have threatened to sue each other: the Goldwater Institute over what it claims may be a violation of the state Constitution’s Gift Clause, and Glendale over what it claims is the institute’s tortious interference and unlawful interference with the City’s business affairs.

Not unexpectedly, Goldwater lashed back, saying any City lawsuit would be “frivolous and unsuccessful.”

Commentary has sprung up musing on whether Glendale has a hockey stick to stand on, or whether it is inappropriately attempting to squelch open debate. And that got me wondering about SLAPP suits.

As you likely know, that is the acronym for a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” “a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.”

Are the days of slap shots in the desert numbered? Zbynek Michalek of the Phoenix Coyotes breaks his stick on a slap shot against the Los Angeles Kings, Feb. 18, 2008 (Harry How/Getty Images North America)

I have never run a city, and I’d have to admit that the Goldwater Institute can have the tendency to rankle; in fact, that may part of its signature. But would it be appropriate for a municipality to sue another entity—or even a person—for demanding answers about how public money will be spent?

Are there are any SLAPP experts out there who could explain if the Arizona version applies in this kind of case? Here is the law (A.R.S. §§ 12-751–12-752 (2006)).

I suppose the question would be whether the Institute’s actions crossed into territory that is unprotected by the statute. For example, is threatening to sue over a proposed deal protected? And is contacting bond-rating agencies and underwriters protected?

Inquiring minds want to know. Especially before any of us start to mouth off to our elected officials on some future item with which we disagree.