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Another Goldwater Institute Victory

In 2013, the Goldwater Institute sued the City of Phoenix to stop the practice of inflating an employee’s pension. Toward the end of the employee’s career, the city allows the employee to substantially boost retirement benefits. Employees would cash in benefits such as sick leave, unused vacation time, bonuses, uniform and vehicle allowances, and any other fringe benefit, in order to inflate their salary for pension calculation.

GoldwaterBuildingThe Goldwater Institute argued that this pension spiking was in clear violation of Arizona law. Before this pension case was formerly decided by the Court, the City of Phoenix decided to throw in the towel and curb this illegal practice. A city report concluded that over the next 25 years, Phoenix could save an estimated $233 million.

My question for the City of Phoenix past council members and past mayors, is why wasn’t this issue publicly exposed before?

Pension spiking had apparently been taking place for several decades until the Arizona Republic raised the issue when the former City Manager, David Cavazos cashed in sick and vacation leaves and other benefits to boost his future annual pension check by $88,000 to $234,536.

This obvious gross unethical behavior by government employees is part of the ethical meltdown that has been taking place in our cities, state and federal government for much too long.

P.J. Dean, representing the United Phoenix Firefighters Associates said, he “was glad the changes came through city negotiations (!!) rather than a court decision through the hands of someone like the Goldwater Institute,” which he called a political assassin. He went on to complain bitterly about the decision.

What we need in Arizona and our Federal government is more “political assassins” like the Goldwater Institute, and fewer union leaders like P.J. Dean, who are happy to milk taxpayers of their money, contrary to state law.

The Pot Calls the Kettle Black

     On February 10, 2014, a UN Committee on Human Rights issued a devastating report criticizing the Catholic Church for its attitude toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion, and said it should change its own cannon law to ensure children’s rights and their access to healthcare.

     This report puts renewed pressure on Pope Francis to move decisively to create a Vatican commission to study sex abuse and recommend the best practices to fight it.

     The UN committee also reported the Vatican’s longstanding argument that it doesn’t control bishops or their abusive priests. The report further accused the Holy See of systematically placing preservation of the reputation of the church and the alleged offenders over the protection of the child victims.

     While most of these charges appear to be accurate, it is more than strange that the UN is an organization that is at the forefront of criticizing the Vatican on the subject of child abuse. The UN, itself, is a gross violator of child abuse in its failure to put a stop to its continuing problem of peacekeeping sex abuse, including the rape of minors in so many countries around the world.

     The body that produced this report is the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which consists of eighteen panelists advertised as “independent experts.” These committee members are nominated by the governments of their home countries and selected by an assembly, which includes many despot members that engage in the world’s most terrifying abuses of children. This is equivalent to the pot calling the kettle black! Let’s be clear. Both need to clean up their respective houses. The abuse of children by both institutions continues to be disgusting.

 

The IRS – A Serious Disgrace

The media has covered this scandal in some detail, but the whole story is still to be revealed. However, the more we learned about this matter, the worse the scandal becomes.

As was the case in prior administrations, the wrongdoing at the IRS always starts at the top. Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton all used the IRS for targeting of their political enemies.

In President Obama’s case, the targeting of conservative organizations started in August, 2008 and then picked up steam in 2012 in preparation for his campaign for a second term.

At this point the question we should be concerned about is what action will the President take to clean up a major agency of his administration?

For some guidance, let us go back to the tail end of Harry Truman’s presidency. At that time, it was revealed that certain sections of the Department of Justice were corrupt. Bribes were taken by lawyers and several officials were convicted of white collar crimes. Subsequently, Dwight Eisenhower was elected President and Herbert Brownell, Jr., a respected New York Attorney was named U.S. Attorney General. Brownell proceeded to clean out the bad apples, including political appointees in the Justice Department and substituted an honors program to hire young lawyers with strong credentials to take their place.

As soon as the congressional investigations are completed and the facts are clear, the people responsible for the political targeting should be fired and replaced by highly trained CPA’s who are able to serve with honor and a strong sense of right and wrong.

Google’s $500 Million Settlement

According to the Wall St. Journal (11/25/12), Google was caught in a criminal sting operation that the company recently settled for $500 million. Question: Was the punishment enough when top Google executives were knowingly involved?

Larry Page, Google’s Chief Executive admitted in a U.S. Attorney investigation, that he knew the pharmaceutical ads on Google websites were illegal. Those websites were not licensed pharmacies, but were selling such narcotics as oxycodone and hydrocodone. it was also discovered that a Google sales office in China was selling Prozac and Valium to U.S. customers without a prescription.

Further, it was found in an investigation by Consumer Watchdog that a large number of companies selling loan modification schemes on Google were fraudulent. In November 2011, the Troubled Asset Relief Program said it had shut down 85 alleged online modification schemes that defrauded homeowners through Google ads.

In light of the above facts, was the Google punishment adequate? I would vote “no.” A half billion dollars is a large forfeiture, but Google presently holds cash of $45 billion. Secondly, purchasers of illegal drugs could cause serious harm to the health of sick online customers. Third, I doubt the punishment will deter other online sellers who will probably continue pushing illicit drugs.