Our Free-market Colleagues Fight Corporate Pork in Arizona

March 14, 2011

Those of us who believe that free-market principles can inspire policies that serve the public interest, reduce taxes, enhance citizen freedom and make government leaner and more efficient are often falsely labeled as corporate shills, fronts for big business and worse.  That’s why it would be so amusing, if it weren’t so tragic, to read about the City of Glendale’s assault on our colleagues at the free-market Goldwater Institute in Arizona.

Goldwater analysts brought to light a sweetheart deal by which city officials plan to give $100 million, ostensibly to buy parking rights they may already own, to a business owner so he can buy a professional hockey team and fill the city’s floundering sports arena.  Goldwater researchers discovered the arrangement is a transparent violation of the Gift Clause in the Arizona constitution, similar to the ban in Washington’s constitution against giving public credit to private business interests.  Glendale’s response is to threaten to use public money to sue Goldwater for using public information to tell the public about the misuse of public money.

Alone among insider deals there is something about sports franchises that seems to quicken the pulse of public officials.  Most infamous was the deal behind the 1970s King Dome, a vast concrete facility King County officials dynamited a decade ago, and whose debt taxpayers still carry.  Or who can forget how local sports team owners funded the election that secured tax money for their own team’s state-of-the-art stadium.  Free-market groups opposed those business-backed boondoggles, just as Goldwater is engaged in its own struggle today.

The free-market, non-profit Goldwater Institute bravely opposes funneling taxpayer money to a private interest, while Glendale public officials use threats to push the deal through.  So who’s acting as the corporate shill here?

Watch Goldwater Institute's CEO Darcy Olsen discuss the issue on FOX Business News: