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Schwartz v. Jordan

Supreme Court of Arizona

May 14, 1957

Vada SCHWARTZ, doing business as My Florist, Petitioner,
v.
Jewel W. JORDAN, individually and as Arizona State Auditor, Respondent.

Page 846

[82 Ariz. 253] Otto H. Linsenmeyer and Stephen W. Connors, Phoenix, for petitioner.

Robert Morrison, Atty. Gen., and Oscar C. Rauch, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., for respondent.

LA PRADE, Justice.

Upon petition of Vada Schwartz, doing business as My Florist, an alternative writ of mandamus was issued by this court, directed to Jewel W. Jordan, as state auditor, commanding her to issue a warrant in payment of a claim for personal services and materials which petitoner had filed with respondent.

It appears from the petition for the writ that petitioner had sold and delivered to the State of Arizona a quantity of artificial flowers and flower boxes for decorating the chambers and two other rooms of the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona. The purchase was made by Mr. Harry Ruppelius, the then duly elected and acting speaker of the House of Representatives. The claim was duly itemized, sworn to and approved by Ruppelius, as the head official of the state agency under which the obligation was incurred. The petition also alleged that funds had been regularly appropriated and were available for the payment of the claim.

The auditor rejected the claim without assigning any reasons therefor, contrary to the provisions of subsection C of section 41-141, A.R.S., except to say that she had received a letter from Mr. W. L. Cook, successor to Ruppelius as speaker of the House of Representatives, wherein he observed that the purchase constituted rank extravagance and was not for a public purpose, and suggested that no warrant should be issued. The claimant again presented her claim which was again rejected without reasons being assigned therefor. After the second rejection the auditor, in an attempted compliance with section 41-141, subsection[82 Ariz. 254] C, paragraph 1, A.R.S., transmitted the claim to the governor and advised him of her second rejection. The governor's response was in part as follows:

'* * * Inasmuch as the grounds for your rejection are not set forth, I must assume that you have found

Page 847

sufficient facts for rejecting the claim, and that your action was taken on the advice of the Attorney General.

'Under these circumstances, I do not feel justified in approving the claim in whole or in part. I am therefore returning it to you without my approval.'

Upon receipt of the second rejection, as affirmed by the governor, the petitioner filed the petition herein. Respondent filed a written response to the writ in which all the allegations of the petition are admitted except the allegation that the materials purchased were for a public purpose. In this behalf she alleged that she had no power to approve the claim and issue a warrant therefor.

'* * * since there is no public purpose involved in the expenditure of the monies in question, for these flowers, flower designs and sprays.'

In view of the law applicable and the allegations of the petition being admitted except for the allegation of 'public purpose', it appears that only one question is presented, and that is: Do the artificial flowers, semi- permanent in nature, purchased for decorative purposes, fall within the classification of a 'public purpose'? We have heretofore pointed out that

'* * * if a claim is 'on its face, for a public purpose and is properly itemized and accompanied by vouchers, and an appropriation has been made by law for that purpose, it is the mandatory duty of the auditor to approve said claim and to issue a warrant therefor; no discretion being given, if the matters recited beforehand appear in the claim as presented,' and this, of course, is true, for neither the auditor nor the governor may lawfully reject a claim which is for a public purpose, as we have defined it in the case of Ward v. Frohmiller, supra. * * *' Hutchins v. Frohmiller, 55 Ariz. 522, 529, 103 P.2d 956, 959.

We pointed out in Board of Regents of University and State Colleges v. Frohmiller, 69 Ariz. 50, 208 P.2d 833, 838, that the phrase 'public purpose' was incapable of a fixed definition, and that

'* * * What is 'a public purpose' depends in part upon the time (age), place, objects to be obtained, modus operandi, economics involved, and ...


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