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Conservative think tank heads to court over 'release time' contract

PHOENIX -- Arizona taxpayers who are being represented by lawyers from conservative think tank The Goldwater Institute will be in court Tuesday to fight "release time."

Residents are challenging the release time provisions found in a contract between the City of Phoenix and local police labor unions.

"Public service is a public trust," said attorney John Riches. "Public employees owe a duty to the public that hired them and pays their salaries. The public expects that they perform those jobs."

Riches maintains that under the practice of taxpayer-funded union activism known as "release time," government workers are released from their jobs to perform full-time union work, while still collecting government salaries and benefits.

Instead of doing work for the public, release time employees spend work hours doing political activism, such as electioneering or lobbying, recruiting new members and even soliciting grievances against the government employer.

According to the Goldwater Institute, release time violates a state constitutional provision known as the "gift clause," which requires public dollars spent to have a corresponding benefit.

Release time happens across the country and critics of it argue that it costs taxpayers over $1 billion dollars yearly.

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About the Author


Sandra moved from the small border city of Yuma, Arizona to study Broadcast Journalism at Arizona State University in the late 90s. Since graduating, she's worked at several local TV stations including Univision, Fox 10 and 3TV.

Working at KTAR, has allowed her the opportunity to cover major national news events, including Presidential visits, the Tucson Tragedy and the Wallow fire.

When Sandra isn't covering breaking news or behind a microphone in the studio, she's probably at home with her best friend Mark and her two dogs, Lily and Lola.

Sandra enjoys cooking and admits to enjoying "really bad" reality T.V. She also enjoys spending quiet time at home with people she loves, playing a little poker and traveling.

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