Maricopa County, Arizona

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Grade2.pngB
Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials P
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits Y
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Contracts Y
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Lobbying N
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Public records Y
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Local taxes Y
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Transparency grading process


Maricopa County is one of 15 counties in Arizona. It is located in the central part of the state, and its county seat is Phoenix, which is also the state's capital city. More than half of Arizona's total population resides in Maricopa County.

Its population as of 2010 is estimated to be 3,817,117.[1]

Website evaluation

The website was most recently evaluated on 20 January 2012.

The good

  • Budget is published.[2]
  • Board of supervisors[3] are listed with full contact information.
  • Board meetings dates are posted, along with meeting agendas and minutes.[4]
  • Local tax rates are listed[5], as is other local tax information.[6]
  • Information to make a public records request is provided.[7]
  • Annual financial reports are available[8], along with internal audits.[9]
  • Building permits and zoning information is available.[10]
  • Has a function on the front page to personalize the page based on your address.
  • Current bid opportunities[11] and award contracts[12] are posted in a searchable database.

The bad

Elected Officials

Board of Supervisors

Maricopa County is governed by a five-member Board of Supervisors. They are elected in partisan elections for four year terms.

Supervisor Political Party District
Fulton Brock Republican 1
Don Stapley Republican 2
Andy Kunasek Republican 3
Max Wilson Republican 4
Mary Rose Wilcox Democrat 5

Public employee salaries

Main article: Arizona public pensions

A former police officer, Jack Harris, who retired in 2007, and received a lump sum payout for his pension that totaled $562,000. He then began to collect an annual pension of $90,000, and was re-hired by the city as the "public safety manager" earning $193,000 a year.[14] This is a violation of Arizona's law which forbids rehiring public workers, and Harris' position is being challenged by Judicial Watch in court.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Joe Arpaio has been Maricopa County's Sheriff since 1992 and has been re-elected for four year terms ever since then.

Board of Supervisors Feud

The Maricopa County board of supervisors instituted a new open records policy in January of 2009. The new policy requires that county employees must follow a specific method to request county documents than what the law provides for any other citizen. Under the new policy, county officials would be required to demonstrate how the records being requested are related to their job duties.[15] "The action is in response to a series of requests from the county attorney's office, which last month announced the indictment of Supervisor Don Stapley on 118 criminal counts alleging he did not disclose business deals and income on financial reports he is required to file."[16]

According to special assistant county attorney Barnett Lotstein, the board's action is illegal and will be challenged. The county maintains that the "intent is not to circumvent state records laws, but rather to save the county time and money in dealing with cumbersome internal requests for documents."[16]Sheriff Joe Arpaio filed a lawsuit in April 2009 challenging the new law. The county says it is protecting itself financially against the costs it says it is incurring to respond to Arpaio's requests.[17]

In February 2010 Judge John Leonardo found that Arpaio "misused the power of his office to target members of the (Board of Supervisors) for criminal investigation."[18] Sheriff Joe Arpaio has lost all four suits filed against the Board of Supervisors, with the cost of the feuding reaching $5.6 million over two years[19].

The Board of Supervisors have placed the Sheriff's Office under budgetary restrictions following an investigation that found misuse of funds totaling up to $80 million over five years[20].

Public Records

A newly imposed rule restricts electronic access to Maricopa County Probate Court records means that cases cannot be reviewed without physically going to the clerk of court's office.[21]

Transparency Website

Maricopa County launched OpenBooks, a website that county officials hope will add transparency to the inner workings of county government. The website aggregates county data, including finance reports, audits, employee compensation information and a searchable database of county contracts. [22]

Lobbying

In 2011, Maricopa County report $60,000 on lobbying.[23] In 2008, Maricopa County reported $100,000 spent on lobbying.[24]

External links

References

  1. Census Bureau "Quick facts," accessed July 9, 2013
  2. Maricopa County "Budget," accessed July 10, 2013
  3. Maricopa County "Board of Supervisors," accessed July 10, 2013
  4. Maricopa County "Meetings and Agendas," accessed July 10, 2013
  5. Maricopa County "Tax Rates," accessed July 10, 2013
  6. Maricopa County "Tax Guide," accessed July 10, 2013
  7. Maricopa County "Records Request," accessed July 10, 2013
  8. Maricopa County "Financial Reports," accessed July 10, 2013
  9. Maricopa County "Internal Audits," accessed July 10, 2013
  10. Maricopa County "Planning," accessed July 10, 2013
  11. Maricopa County "Current Solicitations," accessed July 10, 2013
  12. Maricopa County "Awarded Contracts," accessed July 10, 2013
  13. Maricopa County "Departments," accessed July 10, 2013
  14. MSNBC's Red Tape Chronicles, 20 government workers with super-sized pay, Oct. 5, 2010
  15. [http://www.azcentral.com/news/election/azelections/articles/2009/01/21/20090121countyinfo0122.html The Arizona Republic' "Supervisors to change records request policy," January 21, 2009
  16. 16.0 16.1 East Valley Tribune "Board curbs Thomas access to public records," accessed July 10, 2013
  17. Phoenix New Times, "Arpaio Files Lawsuit Vs. County on Public Records Issue; County Says Sheriff's Request Costs $911,000," April 22, 2009
  18. AZ Central "Supervisor cases collapse," Feb. 25, 2010
  19. AZ Central "Maricopa County's officials tab for feuding hits $5.6 million," September 15, 2010
  20. AZ Central "Joe Arpaio's office misused up to $80 million, Maricopa County says," September 22, 2010
  21. AZCentral.com "Probate records will not be available online," January 1, 2012
  22. AZCentral.com "Website offers information on Maricopa County," November 4, 2011
  23. Open Secrets, "Maricopa County," accessed July 10, 2013
  24. Open Secrets, "Maricopa County," accessed July 10, 2013