Responding to a piece containing blatant falsehoods is often difficult – if you rebut each falsehood, you risk legitimizing nonsense.
That’s the challenge posed by the opinion piece in the March 16 edition of the Arizona Capitol Times, “Law enforcement not the place for political ideology,” written by Jim Clure, a representative of the government union known as PLEA (Phoenix Law Enforcement Association).
Clure’s piece is chock full of false and misleading statements about the Goldwater Institute. Nevertheless, a response is in order because it provides one more reason to reform government unions — even supposedly conservative government unions.
Contrary to Clure’s baseless claims, the Goldwater Institute strongly supports law enforcement, opposes sexual harassment, and has no position whatsoever on recreational marijuana use.
A point in fact is the institute’s support for SB1064 — which PLEA opposed. Inspired by the Goldwater Institute’s groundbreaking policy report, “A New Charter for American Cities,” the bill would have empowered Arizona cities to choose voluntarily to adopt a legal framework of limited government that would have guaranteed individual liberty, property rights, free enterprise, and high performance government services. Far from slashing funding for police, as Clure falsely claims, the bill’s law enforcement provisions would have guaranteed priority funding to law enforcement in cities that adopted its legal framework.
But SB1064 would not have given government unions the blank check PLEA prefers. Instead, it would have required local governments to define their crime-fighting goals, to measure performance transparently, and to meet those goals — with real consequences for sustained failure, including the possibility of contracting for police services from other local governments as a last resort.
Although unabashedly rooted in the core conservative principle that no one — not even law enforcement — should get something for nothing, SB1064’s law enforcement provisions were also supported by extensive research into successful law enforcement policies used throughout the country. This research included the institute’s recent policy report on law enforcement co-authored by George Kelling, one of the founders of the “Broken Windows” approach to policing that saved New York City in the 1990s.
In the final analysis, Clure’s and PLEA’s opposition to SB1064 only reveal that a representative of a supposedly conservative government union is willing to throw a conservative organization under the bus by any means necessary. One can only speculate why.
Perhaps such conduct has something to do with the fact that the Goldwater Institute strongly supports reform measures that would end government union special privileges, including “release time,” in which PLEA officials have been put on city payrolls and paid millions of dollars to do nothing but union work on the taxpayer dime.
Perhaps Clure puts PLEA’s economic gain and government union brotherhood ahead of integrity to conservative principles and loyalty to the taxpayer.
If so, Clure has unwittingly demonstrated that reforming all government unions—even police unions—is essential to restoring the republic.
— Nick Dranias is an attorney with the Goldwater Institute.