Thursday, December 10, 2009

Goldwater Institute: Reforming America's cities one policy at a time

by Nick Dranias
Nine months ago, the Goldwater Institute introduced a plan to apply the principles of limited government to the governments closest to home. A New Charter for American Cities advocates the establishment of a "Local Liberty Charter" whereby citizens and local public officials could adopt a set of limited-government policies--a local bill of rights--to restrain local taxing and spending, reduce local regulation, and restructure local politics to check and balance governmental power.

phx skylineThe "Local Liberty Charter" idea has since caught fire. The New York Times "Freakonomics" blog reports that visionary economist Paul Romer has resigned his tenured position at Stanford to advocate for the creation of "Charter Cities" free of unnecessary local regulations and policies.

Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio is fighting to open up local services to competitive outsourcing to keep a bloated city bureaucracy from busting the budget. Scottsdale's Charter Review Task Force is looking at various limited government reforms. Other Arizona public officials are working behind the scenes to push for statewide legislative reforms in the coming session. Recognized innovators in government stand ready, able and willing to help, including former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who is now at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

This idea is contagious. The ongoing economic recession has made it necessary and obvious that cities in Arizona and throughout the world must be refocused on serving core functions. A New Charter for American Cities shows the way.

Nick Dranias holds the Goldwater Institute Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan chair for constitutional government and is the director of the Institute's Dorothy D. and Joseph A. Moller Center for Constitutional Government.

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