$347 million Taj Mahal new court tower includes marble, travertine, decorative porcelain tile, wood floors

Taj Mahal
The investigative reporters at Channel 15 have uncovered some of the extent of the luxury being paid for by taxpayers to build a new building for Maricopa County Superior Court. This blog and others have covered how not a cent is being cut from the pricetag, even though 45 employees were laid off from the courts a few weeks ago, and even though it had been brought up numerous times over the past year in meetings that due to the economy, the building could be scaled back or postponed. Unlike other projects, the tower is being paid for with cash, not bonding. We suspect there is an unethical relationship between the County Supervisors who refuse to cut any costs from the tower, and the construction and related companies who won the bids on the project – they probably contributed to the Supervisors’ reelection campaigns.our Taj Majal

Not all of the money is going to construction. In February 2007, 16 county officials traveled to New York and Philadelphia to tour the courts. The trip included sightseeing and expensive dinners along the way. Barbara Mundell, liberal presiding judge of the Superior Court (for all you commenters – she’s liberal even though she’s a registered Republican) led the trip.

Fortunately, the Sheriff’s Office is criminally investigating the court tower.

ABC 15 reports that the County is refusing to grant them access to thousands of pages of documents.


  1. Someone @ the County can't add says

    Why does the general contractor, Gilbane/Ryan, keep listing the tower as a $259 million project yet the County says it will cost $339 – $347 million? That’s too big of a number to ignore.

    Gilbane says that, so far, the project is on-time and under budget. Which budget?

    Maybe that $80 million extra is going to be used to open a new restaurant for Mary Rose Wilcox. Chile con carne anyone?

  2. Jean McGrath says

    I see no mention of timing in relation to construction costs in a recession. If the money is available, this is the most cost effective time to sign construction contracts. I wonder if the investigative reporters have looked into the costs that would be added on if changes are made once construction is under way? Any savings that might be made with slightly less costly materials will quickly disappear as the architect and engineers are paid to draw up new plans, new bids are obtained and the job is shut down while waiting for the new supplies and charges are made for the materials already ordered and not used. I like investigative reporting but it would help if the reporter in this case demonstrated some knowledge of all that goes into a large scale construction job and the havoc created with change orders.

  3. Grumpy Gus says

    Jean is rightfully addressing what to do going forward. The reporter is addressing the idiocy that has been occurring. Whether the thing ever gets built or not is one thing, but let’s get an explanation and some accountability from those who made the decision in the first place.

    The real problem with the courts is that they consider their property sacrosanct. They can’t just lease office space at market rates like the Sheriff does. They have to have robes and leather chairs and a bunch of open space in the courtroom because they’re so snooty about everything.

  4. Republican SOS says

    Unfortunately, timing is not the issue. The issue is the BOS’s refusal to disclose financial information related to contracts and construction costs, even to the Treasurer who pays the bills. What is really going on here? As those footing the bill, we have a right to transparency.

  5. Everyone, it looks like Jean knows more about construction that all of you put together, and I bet she isn’t crying crocodile tears that 45 government workers got laid off. They are going to hire between 1,000 and 2,000 private sector workers to build this thing. The County is also not going into debt to finance the construction which, amazingly, some so-called conservatives are suggesting. Please people – true conservatives should not be preaching the wonders of “bonding” because it is only another term for deficit spending. The governments that will survive this recessiona and the people that will survive it are those that did not spend themselves into debt for the things they needed. Just because some bloggers are in love with Sheriff Joe and Andy Thomas doesn’t mean that the rest of us should take a vacation from common sense and conservative economics. The Federal government has “bonded” itself into debt by several trillion dollars because, unlike the County, they refused to cut programs and other spending to meet their needs. The County needed more courtrooms, so they cut other programs and came up with the cash they needed for their courthouse. Seems simple, seems right.


  1. […] their pricey diversity campaigns, environmental awareness campaigns, Chicanos por la Causa, and $347 million brand-new state of the art court tower. This is in addition to the millions of dollars they have slid off onto separate districts like the […]

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