Tag Archives: Government

MARICOPA SPECIAL HEALTHCARE DISTRICT TO VOTE ON $95M NO-BID CONTRACT TONIGHT!

YET WE’RE NOT SURE THEY READ THE CONTRACT!

 

Friends,    

We at Arizonans In Action have just learned that the Maricopa Special Healthcare District has called a special meeting, open to the public, to approve a $95 million NO-BID contract with Medical Professionals of Arizona this evening at 5pm at the Maricopa Medical Center in Auditorium 4.

  

We touched on this issue last week in our blog post on the Maricopa County Special Healthcare District.  If you missed it, <!– –>please take a look

  

While the fact that this HUGE contract for county services is a NO-BID contract is of great concern, we are hearing word that the MIHS Board of Directors has not even read the 300 page contract!!!  According to multiple sources, it was not even received until Thursday.  In this time of economic turmoil where taxpayers and Maricopa County are struggling to make obligations, we want to know how elected officials can proceed with the approval of a contract that they haven’t read?

 

 

 

ACTION ITEMS

 

1.  Please contact immediately the MIHS Board of Directors and tell them you want them to read the contract before any decisions are made let alone those with such a HUGE price tag.

 

2.  Tell them, that as elected officials, they have an obligation to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars and should reject NO-BID contracts.  Any services that the government needs should be sent out for bid to provide opportunity for companies to put forth their best prices for the best quality of services.  Competition breeds efficiency!

 

3.  Please forward this post to your friends and family.  Encourage them to contact the Board of Directors as well.  Lastly, also encourage them to visit the Arizonans In Action website where they can sign up to stay informed on our efforts and breaking issues. 

 

 

Thank you for your help.  If you receive any response, please let us know!

 

Now, let’s make our voices heard that we demand accountability and efficiency in every corner of government.

***UPDATE***

We have received responses from two of the MIHS Board of Directors over the past couple of days and we wanted to share those responses with all of you.

District One Bil Bruno[excerpted from email response] “We’ve spent several hours last week and today in board meetings discussing its terms and I read and highlighted the contract over the weekend. Today after the meeting I met with a VP to question 23 different sections of it.” 

District Two Greg Patterson[excerpted from email response]  “Yes, we’ve read the contract—more importantly, the management team and the lawyers have spend thousands of hours—and several hundred thousand dollars—negotiating it.”

We are glad that these gentlemen have carefully read this contract considering its GIANT price tag and we appreciate their response to their constituents.  Yet, we do wonder whether the other members of the Board have also read it.

MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERVISORS ARE MAGICIANS

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Millions of Wasted Dollars Hidden by Supervisors’ Creation of Special Taxing Districts

Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

 

One of the biggest secrets the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors do not want you to know is how they farm off parts of county government that chronically lose money into separate “special taxing districts” where financial losses are all but hidden from the public.

Instead of making these sinkhole areas of county government financially responsible, the Supervisors hide them where taxpayers don’t hear about their losses, allowing them to freely continue their irresponsible spending unaccountable to anyone.

Sure, the County Supervisors brag that they never directly raise your property taxes because they shift responsibility to the special districts to raise your property taxes. 

Take for example this little nugget that did not get much attention.  Recently, the Special Healthcare District in June voted to raise your property taxes.  Did you hear about it?  Did you know about it?  No because the county’s special taxing districts fly under the radar of the taxpayers and largely aren’t covered by the media.

Over the next three installments, we will examine some of these districts and the millions of taxpayer dollars that are going down the drain.

 

Maricopa County Special Healthcare District

The Maricopa County Special Healthcare District (MIHS) was created a few years ago by a ballot proposition and consists of a healthcare insurance plan and a couple of hospitals.  However, MIHS was largely created because it continues to lose huge amounts of money.  The debt was siphoned off into a different district where its losses would go undetected and would not count against the county budget.  Once separated, it could have its own property tax separate from the general county budget.  This property tax could increase as much as its board deemed necessary because it was no longer accountable to the county.

Let’s take a closer look at the continual losses that MIHS posts, particularly the specialty clinics:

Simply eliminating dental, oncology, urgent care, the FHCs and Complete Care Comfort would have saved the district $8.3 million in 2008.

MCMCWe also looked at the county medical center and how it handles itself.  An overview shows us that the Maricopa County Medical Center accepts any patients for treatment, even if they refuse to pay.  An easy cost-cutting measure could be implemented if the district made a decision to turn away patients that refused to pay – which accounts for about 26% of its patients – and send them to other area hospitals that are better able to accommodate for their needs.  Yet, the MIHS Directors haven’t made that decision, so Maricopa County taxpayers are stuck paying for their care.

Now, let’s take a look at the MIHS District’s budget for the current year.  This year the district’s budget is $27.8 million.  However, there is a large problem going unnoticed.  You see there is this thing called a balance sheet where income and expenses are measured.  On one side, the expense side, we know the number is $27.8 million but on the income side, it is only projected to be $20.8 million with no hope of making it up by the end of the year.  Just to hammer home the point, that is showing that the MIHS District will be spending $7 million more than they have.

Does it get any better?  No.  The 2009-2010 budget is estimated to have an overall $44 million operating loss.  The Maricopa County Medical Center is facing decreasing operating revenues and the amount of debt is expected to increase.  Despite the fact that the Maricopa County Health Plan is seeing increasing revenues, its expenses are increasing as fast as revenues.  I think we can safely predict what the result will be – expenses surpassing revenues and creating more debt.  As it stands, the district owes $17 million to the county in debt service reimbursements for loans the county made to the district previously.

The hope that the debt will be cured by federal money is also not a possibility.  The district currently receives federal Section 1011 money for treating illegal immigrants, but that is being cut in half, from $5.4 million this year down to 2.7 million next year so either number of those treated needs to decrease or once again expenses will exceed revenues.

 

In Their Own Words

We tracked down what some have said about the MIHS District and its financial standings but it has left us scratching our heads.  See for yourself…

 

  • The board voted in favor of a tax levy for itself last year.  One of the directors, Gail Hendrix, objected to tax levy on the basis that it was a double tax.  Gail noted that since people are already taxed by the federal government to provide free healthcare to those who do not pay, why should people be taxed again at the local level?  Unfortunately, the CEO of the district and a trustee for the Don Stapley defense fund, Betsey Bayless, convinced the other board members to outvote Hendrix and approve the highest amount possible for the tax levy, 7.8%.  By the way, it is important to note here Betsey Bayless is making $350,000 per year and has no medical or healthcare education at all as far as we know.

We are only scratching the surface here but considering how expensive it is running the MIHS district and that costs and taxes continue to increase, does it really make sense for the Maricopa County government to run a healthcare district?  Especially since The County Supervisors have made it clear they are not going to provide any oversight, the MIHS District will not provide oversight, and the fact that taxpayers already pay federal taxes to provide for federally mandated healthcare services to indigents.  Seems to us that it just doesn’t make fiscal sense to tax property owners again to duplicate what could be done more efficiently in the private sector.

$347 Million Court Tower Boondoggle Hurts Taxpayers

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   The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is spending $347 million to construct what they refer to as a “state of the art” brand-new court tower.   Yet, many taxpayers are unaware of the details behind this project and the reason why this project continues may be found in the money.
 
   Maricopa County is facing a $138.2 million budget shortfall.  In response, numerous county employees have been laid off in recent months, including 40 Superior Court employees that would staff some of these offices to be featured in the court tower.  Also, county law enforcement has been cut by 15% and Sheriff Arpaio is having difficulty finding sufficient deputies to transport inmates to and from court.  All in all, we are talking about budget shortfalls and staff reduction, yet it appears that the Maricopa County Supervisors have their minds set on this budget breaking project. 
 
   The court tower, to be constructed of marble, travertine, porcelain and wood floors, is the most  expensive venture the county has ever undertaken.  Maricopa County Court TowerAs if the overindulgence and sheer nonsensical relocation of all court business in Maricopa County weren’t enough to question, the timing for this massive construction project is extraordinarily misguided at best considering the current recession and projected economic forecast.
 
   In the past, satellite courthouses were gradually built up around the Valley to accommodate the growing population, as is being done in other counties around the nation.  Superior Court Presiding Judge Barbara Mundell told the Supervisors at a public meeting on October 4, 2006, that co-location of the regional court facilities has “helped tremendously,” “made economic sense,” and provided “improved customer service.”  Maricopa County is the second fastest growing large county in the nation. Bringing those satellite court locations back downtown into one consolidated building only increases the cost to taxpayers due to the time increase for law enforcement and the greater usage of fuel by their transport vehicles to drive further into the city.   Just for a reference, the Mesa courthouse location is 19 miles away from downtown.
 
   Since this projected plan was in the works, the Maricopa County Supervisors were told several times during public meetings by their budget analysts last year that they could back off on building such an expensive building.  The reason given by their analysts was simple… it’s that the tax revenues aren’t coming in as high as we expected or hoped.   Yet, the Maricopa County Supervisors have ignored this advice and refused to budge on the centralization of the county courts or its extravagance.  The Board of Supervisors also discovered recently that even with cutting all other areas of county government, they still don’t have enough cash for the project.  Now, why are they digging in their heels on this project?
 
contracts   There may be a reason for their obstinacy.  We discovered some very interesting data when we looked into the campaign finance reports of the Maricopa County Supervisors.  The contractors who won the bids for the court tower project have ties to the County Supervisors.  The owner of Goodman Schwartz, the consulting firm which represents DMJM, the interior design company for the court tower, contributed $150 to Supervisor Don Stapley last year.   A Project Manager at HDR Inc., the architectural, engineering and consulting firm for the court tower, contributed $50 to Supervisor Wilson last year. A law partner of Tom Irvine, who has been paid over $800,000 over the past three years for legal help with the tower, contributed $390 to Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox last year.  This makes this construction project all the more interesting considering the political contributions and does force us to beg the question if there is an appearance of impropriety going on here.
 
   However, the cause is not lost.  The Maricopa County Supervisors will meet on July 22, 2009 at 9am at the Supervisors Auditorium at 205 W. Jefferson, Phoenix, AZ, (details here)to vote on changing the funding to bonding – a move that will cost taxpayers even more money by spreading it out over the years.  We strongly encourage you to attend this meeting and demand that the Supervisors halt this unaffordable patronage and stick to improving our existing courthouses. 

   If you are unable to attend, please contact the Maricopa County Supervisors today and tell them that you want this project to stop immediately.

We Told You So, Now Let’s Tell Them!

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News broke earlier today that Arizona Legislature leadership and the Governor had reached a deal on the budget.  Of course, knowing that the taxpayers do not want a tax increase, the Governor must have backed down, right?!  WRONG!!!

Instead legislative leaders have agreed to ask the voters to decide whether they want a tax increase on sales tax.  Here is the reason that Senate President Bob Burns gave (from the Capitol Media Service article by Howie Fischer):

Burns acknowledged that he has, until now, been adamantly opposed to hiking taxes, even to the point of simply referring the question to voters. But he said there really is no choice, saying even that $600 million in cuts, even coupled with federal stimulus dollars and other accounting maneuvers, is insufficient to deal with an anticipated $3 billion deficit.

“So my belief now is that we need to put that out there for the voters,” he said.

“If they pass the tax increase, obviously we’ll have more revenues,” Burns continued. “If they don’t I think that sends a pretty strong message to the Legislature that we’re going to have to make significant reductions.”

If they don’t, it will send a pretty strong message to the Legislature?!  We seem to recall 10,000 plus taking time out of their schedule on April 15th to protest big government, big spending, high taxes, and lack of accountability.  Now that wasn’t a message?

You know, we always hear that Republicans are going to be strong leaders for small government, less taxes and spending, etc.  Now we are hearing that they want maintain the size, growth, and spending of the current government.  Have they forgotten what they promised?

We are ripped!  Yet, we can still do something about it.  Everyone of us needs to get on the phone to our state legislators and demand that this tax increase NOT be sent to the ballot.  We have already spoken.  Call them today and tell them NO!

Arizona State Senate
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890

Info Desk: 602.926.3559
Fax: 602.926.3429
Toll Free: 800.352.8404

Arizona House of Representatives
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890
Info Desk: 602.926.4221
Toll Free: 800.352.8404

If you are unsure who are legislators are, please visit here: http://www.azleg.gov/

Please contact your legislator today!

Look Out Taxpayers, They Are Going to Blow It

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We are not happy.  Nope, not one bit.  Zilch.  Zero. Nada.

We have all watched intently on the budget discussions over the past several months unfold in the legislature concerning the budget fix of 2009 and the budget for 2010.  Many of us have spoken with our legislators, attended Townhall forums, and listened to economists say that raising taxes (even temporary ones) during a recession is a very bad idea (and could be catastrophic).

In fact, we would even opine that the communication has never been better between our elected representatives and the voters in many regards.  Legislators have heard our voices loudly and clearly to NOT raise taxes.  Many of us expressed what a great opportunity we have to shrink the big government of the Napolitano administration.  Many legislators spent long hours figuring out ways to cover the huge gaps between income and expenses.  They even came up with a plan and a budget was sent to Governor Brewer for approval.

And then…

Early in the week, we heard that Governor Brewer is not happy with the budget proposal sent to her and will even shut down government if an agreement cannot be reached by July 1.  The latest word now is that Senate President Bob Burns said that there is a tentative agreement to ask lawmakers to refer a sales-tax to the ballot, though no specifics have been outlined or official announcements have been made.

Say what?!  We think we made it pretty clear at the TEA parties in Tucson and Phoenix and in our conversations with our legislators that we don’t want more taxes — even if they are temporary.

Let us point out a few points to the Governor and the legislature:

  • We don’t want more taxes.
  • We want small government.
  • We don’t want more taxes.
  • We don’t care if you shut down government.  We don’t want more taxes.
  • We don’t want more taxes.  We are taxed too much already.

Also, what is interesting to note is that the tentative agreement indicated that if the vote went to the ballot, the language would provide directives where the money, if approved, would be sent to specific accounts like education.  Here’s a problem… the vast majority of the spending for education is in administrative costs not in the classroom.  So, even if the vote passes, money still would not be going to the classroom.  Rather, it just would be eaten up by administrative costs.

If the legislature and the governor want to do right by the taxpayers and for Arizona, they need to remain focused on a very simple thought — Shrink Government.  Then, and maybe then, our mood will change to happy.

Robbing the Taxpayers — Or How We Can Save Money and Promote Liberty

azcapitolWhen Diane Sikokis’ does her job the taxpayers lose.  When Diane does her job well, the taxpayers lose doubly.  She serves as the Director of Government Relations for Maricopa County, making her the lead lobbyist for its policy issues.

Over the weekend, the Arizona Republic had a puff piece interview with Ms. Sikokis discussing how difficult it is for her to do her job in this present political and economic climate.  As if the interview were not disgusting enough because of its lack of substance, there was gross negligence for failing to ask reasonable questions like “Why does Maricopa County need a lobbyist?”.

There are two excerpts from the interview that I would like to draw your attention to.  The first question is a follow up to a discussion of Maricopa County not being able to cut any further because of mandates:

Q: Would Maricopa County consider legal action?

A: Yes. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that if the state approaches us in such a way . . . this board is no longer to be accountable and answerable to the taxpayers who elected them to do the jobs that they need to do because they’ve taken all of the revenue that we count on and depend on. Then yes, I think this board would look at all of their options.Sikokis

The second excerpt that I think is worth pointing out is:

Q: Who do you consider the county’s allies at the Capitol, and which relationships need some work?

A: Certainly the governor. Our board strongly considers both the Senate president and House speaker friends. We feel like we have an excellent relationship with all of the legislative leadership and certainly the members that comprise the Maricopa delegation. We really appreciate the out-of-county members as well. The problem seems to be those legislators who perhaps are not keeping an open mind on the governor’s five-point plan . . . the more conservative Republican legislators in both bodies.

[emphasis added]

In other words, Ms. Sikokis is not only openly admitting that the county is advocating for a tax increase during a recession, which in turn will trigger an economic depression, but is also blaming conservatives for being a roadblock to the tax increase flying through the Legislature.

As I mentioned above, there is one element that is not being discussed.  Why is it that we even need taxpayer-funded lobbyists?  Essentially, we are paying for employees of government to head to the legislature to lobby for more of our money.  That, my fellow patriots, is insane.

GI BuildingThe Goldwater Institute has a great report that they published in 2007 by Benjamin Barr.  I strongly urge you to visit their site and download a copy.

Here is the dirty little secret that Maricopa County is not telling you but the Goldwater Institute discovered.  Maricopa County, as of 2007 when this report was published, had 85 taxpayer-funded lobbyists.  Now, imagine the tax dollars that are allocated just to pay for salaries.

Thus, we are left with a natural conclusion.  Maricopa County can make more cuts — starting with reducing the number of lobbyists on staff — if they were interested in doing what is best for the taxpayers of Maricopa County.  Unfortunately, much like the empty rhetoric Ms. Sikokis in this train-wreck of an interview, Maricopa County is only interested in growing government on the backs of an already stressed economic base — us.

Keeping Tabs on Socialized Medicine

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This morning I received an email from Campaign For Liberty which featured a piece by Dr. and Congressman Ron Paul on the uptick in activity to promote socialized medicine, commonly known as universal healthcare.

paulRon Paul is a OB/GYN with well over 30 years of experience in medicine and has keen insights on how government has crept its way into healthcare — for the worse.  He proposes a couple of bills that we should pass to protect us from an even bigger government, the further erosion of our freedoms, an poorer quality healthcare because of government interventionist policies and regulations.

I encourage you to read the article Fight Government Encroachment into Health Care! (Shared via AddThis ) and leave me your thoughts.