John McCain: Corporate Welfare for Desert Ice Hockey, Si; Goldwater Institute, No


I've been meaning for a while now to blog about the disgusting effort by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to tarnish the good folk over at the libertarian nonprofit Goldwater Institute for attempting to disrupt the flow of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of a freaking hockey team in Arizona, but instead I'll just invite you to read George Will:

After the [Phoenix Coyotes] team entered bankruptcy in 2009, the NHL bought it for $140?million and has lost at least $30?million operating it. It might decamp to Winnipeg, Manitoba. This would enable Glendale, which spent $180?million on the hockey arena, to cut its losses. Glendale, however, not wanting its eight-year-old arena to sit vacant, wants to sell up to $116?million of municipal bonds so that it can give $100?million to a wealthy Chicago business executive to help him buy the team. With the $100?million, the city would supposedly purchase the right to charge parking fees at the arena the city owns, with the fees going to pay off the bonds. But the city already owns the right it is purchasing: It already imposes a ticket surcharge for parking.

If future fees are insufficient, Glendale's taxpayers will have to make up the shortfall. Furthermore, Glendale would pay the new owner an additional $97?million under a contract, awarded without competitive bidding, to manage the arena through the 2014 season.

Fortunately, this folly may be illegal. The Arizona constitution's "gift clause" may block Glendale's booster socialism […]

The Goldwater Institute, a think tank and advocacy organization dedicated to the limited-government principles of its namesake, plans to sue, if necessary, to see that Arizona's constitution is respected. So the city, which has been dilatory regarding documents sought by the institute, is threatening to sue the institute, which warned bond rating agencies and others about its possible constitutional lawsuit. Glendale correctly says that the lawsuit will add a risk premium to its cost of borrowing. […]

John McCain who holds the Senate seat once occupied by Barry Goldwater but does not hold Goldwater's views about governmental minimalism, calls the institute's actions "disgraceful" and "basically blackmailing": "It's not their role to decide whether the Coyotes should stay [here] or not." Well.

Constitutions do not impress the co-author of the McCain-Feingold assault on the First Amendment (his law restricts political speech). But the institute's job — actually, it is every Arizonan's job — is to protect the public interest. A virtuoso of indignation, McCain is scandalized that the institute, "a non-elected organization," is going to cause the loss of "a thousand jobs." McCain's jobs number is preposterous, as is his intimation — he has been in elective office for 28 years — that non-elected people should not intervene in civic life.

Whole thing, well worth a read, here.

This is yet another weird and vulgar chapter in McCain's long and contentious relationship with Barry Goldwater, a subject on which I wrote at length in McCain: The Myth of a Maverick.