Az Governor’s Key Political Advisor Declares War on Goldwater Institute

In the interests of debate and education, I am posting this piece for our readers to review. A bit of background, HighGround (Chuck Coughlin) is best associated with John McCain’s tenure in office; former Governor Fife Symington who was given the boot forcing Jane D. Hull into the Governor’s office; and former Attorney General Grant Woods. Most recently, Chucky is best remembered for heading up Jan Brewer’s transition team and, perhaps being one of the luminaries behind Jan’s popular tax war with the Legislature…. So, with that in mind … here’s Chuck in his own words.


The Goldwater Institute is Hurting (Not Helping) Our Economy

by: J. Charles Coughlin

In the worst economy in recent history, the Goldwater Institute is looking for ways to ensure that cities and towns will be even more strapped for cash. Their latest salvo, from Nick Dranias, attacks development incentives and touts reforms to end one of local government’s most successful economic tools.

At the very heart of economic incentives is the notion that growth should pay for itself. Dranias would like you to believe that cities are handing out sacks of taxpayer money to developers who agree to come to town. The Goldwater Institute’s public relations campaign surrounding their litigation relies on that age old propaganda rule, that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth.

The truth is, not a single dime of taxpayer money has been spent on City North, nor are the taxpayers of Phoenix at risk. In fact, City North has already generated over $6.5 million in development fees and commercial, restaurant, construction, retail and residential-rental taxes (Az Rep 7/26 Fairbanks op/ed). All of this at a time when Phoenix and the State are most strapped for cash.

The reality is that cities are using these economic incentives to encourage and leverage private investment.

Development incentive agreements require that developers risk all of their own capital to get a project underway and performing before a portion of the revenue generated by the project itself is returned as compensation for the infrastructure already built.

Without being reimbursed for a portion of the five parking garages, CityNorth’s developer would pursue a less capital-intensive design. This would likely result in approximately half of the development being taken up by surface parking lots, thus limiting the number of sales tax-generating businesses and resulting in a less environmentally attractive, sustainable, pedestrian-oriented, economically viable and desirable project.

The agreement ensures that CityNorth will be of sufficient density to maximize the City’s ability to generate revenue and jobs. In fact, the City will receive as much as $900 million in new net revenue with the incentive agreement. That’s a significantly better deal for Phoenix – especially in these tough economic times when the city is struggling with cuts and searching for long-term revenue sources.

I agree with Dranias when he says, “Local government fee and tax revenues are plummeting and we just can’t afford to have our cities giving away the tax money that should be spent on vital public services like law enforcement.”

The difference is, the real drain on tax dollars is coming from the Institute’s assault on cities, who must defend themselves in order to preserve the economic tools that allow them to grow and build their economy. The Goldwater Institute’s witch hunt against economic development incentives doesn’t save taxpayer money – it creates even more uncertainty in an already troubled marketplace.

Their efforts to eradicate effective, longstanding economic development policies are economically and politically irresponsible for an organization that is supposed to be dedicated to “economic and educational freedom.”

Dranias and the Goldwater Institute’s harmful efforts to destabilize critical revenue sources for cities portray an organization that does not understand current development policies in Arizona – policies that work to ensure that growth pays for itself. It seems that the Goldwater Institute is not “for” anything, outside of costly lawsuits used for their own publicity and fundraising efforts.

They certainly are showing no interest in finding long-term solutions to revive Arizona’s economy.


  1. I wonder how many of Goldwater’s donors are complaining about how expensive it is to uphold that pesky 5th amendment?

    If the Goldwater Institute is actually capable of hurting our economy, we have a much bigger problem on our hands.

  2. Lets face it, Coughlin believes the purpose of taxpayers is to subsidize the business of political insiders.

  3. It’s good to see our governor take a page out of Chairman Obama’s playbook. I think we found our 2012 nominee!

  4. When ones argument begins with a personal attack, it is a sign that you are wrong on some level. In this case, it is a disturbing level.

    I don’t care if Coughlin is a cave dwelling troll; he used reason and facts in his argument.

    The Goldwater Institute (mostly Clint Bolick)has become a mindless bully using personal attacks and throwing (other people’s) money around like a playboy.

    Donors to the Institute need to demand strict accounting, the end to personal attacks and more judicious use of lawsuits. That’s conservatism.

    If the players at the Goldwater Institute don’t stop acting like reckless rock-stars, they will simply become the suit-wearing, equivalent of the ACLU.

  5. Travis their inaction and hypocrisy with vouchers and tax credits that use public tax dollars to enrich private corporations seal the ACLU comparison already. They are one in the same.

  6. When are we going to stop using the joker face for goodness sake?!

  7. I don’t think that picture was doctored at all.

    Jason, if you don’t acknowledge the authority of private schools to make use of community assets, you also must shut them down and force every student to attend a public school.

  8. Veritas Vincit says

    Travis, re: #4 above… please cite the ‘personal’ attack to which you refer. My introductory paragraph simply cited some of Highground’s previous clients.

    It is in the first and second paragraph’s of Coughlin’s article in which attacks are made. The opening of Coughlin’s op/ed are not well reasoned but rather an open attack. Hence why I posted it. I seriously doubt Coughlin’s economic knowledge when compared to that collective research ability of the Goldwater Institute.

    Coughlin earns a living from a highly select client list, which I might suggest you become familiar with.

  9. VV:Please. Did you write that with a straight face?

  10. Yet, Coughlin’s first point is accurate — not a single dime of taxpayer funds has been spent on CityNorth. All infrastructure, public and private, has been paid for by the developer. The city bears none of the risk, but all of the upside when the project takes off. The $900 million in new revenue will pay for a lot of police officer and firefighter salaries!

  11. Sarka Scarpulla says

    VV- that’s what happens when you drink so much of your own kool aid that you discount, out of hand, a reasoned argument. The Goldwater Institute are academic ideologues who work with models, theories and constructs of scholarly conservative wet dreams. They freely admit to attempting to influencing our society by litigation. That is their purpose for being. Not reasoned debate, open forum consensus seeking, democratic process or initiative, but by forcing a narrow minded decision thru the courts. No different the the Arizona Center for the Law…

    As you said “.. collective research ability of the Goldwater Institute.

    Coughlin earns a living from a highly select client list, which I might suggest you become familiar with.”

    Perhaps we should also consider the narrow funding sources of the Goldwater, which also we all need to be become familiar with.

  12. Veritas Vincit says

    Coughlin is a savvy political operative and opportunist. He has scant ability as an economist.

    This blog is a perspective page, not an unbiased news outlet.

    Sarka? Argument ad hominem

    Bill, a quick question; “…The $900 million in new revenue” is that blue sky projections or hard revenues now flowing into the city coffers?

    Actually, knowing Chuck I sort of suspect he liked the picture.

Leave a Reply