When 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.
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.
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.
The 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.