Monday, December 14, 2009

Goldwater Institute: Tempe Changes Sea Life Deal in Response to Goldwater Institute Lawsuit

Institute says steps are positive but questions remain

Phoenix--Today the Goldwater Institute commended the Tempe City Council for steps it took last night to make significant changes to its deal financially supporting the Sea Life Aquarium but said questions remain about the new contract.

Last month the Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit against Tempe for agreeing to an unconstitutional subsidy of the private business and for failing to follow the process required by state law. Tempe initially agreed to provide various tax breaks and other special concessions, receiving in return only the developer's "desire" to provide discounted rates to Tempe residents.

Following the lawsuit, Tempe hired a consultant, as it was required to do before it adopted the contract, to determine whether the development would proceed without the City's financial support and whether the City would receive more benefits than the amount of the tax breaks. The city also approved a different contract requiring the developer to provide discounts.

"There is no question that Tempe took these actions as a result of our lawsuit," said Carrie Ann Sitren, staff attorney for the Goldwater Institute. "While they are positive steps, we will carefully review the new contract to determine whether there is still an illegal subsidy."

Ms. Sitren added, "The last thing taxpayers need in this economy is to subsidize a massive European business conglomerate. We wish the City had done things right in the first place. But if it takes a lawsuit to get the City to do the right thing, that's what we're here to do."
The lawsuit was filed by the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation on behalf of two small business owners in Tempe who did not receive subsidies to open their businesses and residents. To read more about this lawsuit, Coons v. Hallman, and other Goldwater Institute lawsuits visit The Goldwater Institute is an independent government watchdog supported by people who are committed to expanding free enterprise and liberty.

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