Public Relations • Strategic Planning • Lobbying • Coalition Development
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Salt River Project’s Reliable Community Leadership

February 25th, 2015

For the past 100 years, the Salt River Project has provided reliable, community based affordable water and power – as today’s Arizona Republic spot on editorial points out, they are also endeavoring to provide reliable community leadership on how to properly price customer based power generation, be that solar or other forms of renewable energy.

As the Arizona Republic accurately explains, the U.S Department of Energy has found that rooftop solar customers reduce utility revenues much more than they reduce expenses. With the rapid evolution of the energy and technology industries, it may be possible for customers some day to completely disconnect from the grid – but as of today, that is much more of a dream than a reality.

SRP’s pricing policy, which their elected Board will consider tomorrow, is an innovative and thoughtful approach to how to properly price consumer generated power and the customers’ continued reliance on the grid during their peak use times.

All electric utility providers have two tasks in common: they must generate enough quality power to meet peak demand times when most of their customers are returning to their homes in the early afternoon and evening hours and they must accomplish the first task in the most affordable manner possible.

Many rooftop solar arrays are not positioned (west facing), or in most cases, large enough to meet this peak demand time. Battery storage and other technologies may evolve to help bridge this gap, but for the time being, self-generating customers still rely on the grid to meet their peak energy demand.

SRP’s management has proposed an innovative pricing policy that attempts to separate the costs for energy and the cost of the network of infrastructure known as the grid.

The juvenile demagoguery being spouted by the rooftop solar industry and its supporters does a massive disservice to anyone trying to fairly and appropriately understand these very difficult public policy issues. As former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said, “A good-catch-word can obscure analysis for fifty years.”

Holmes would surely get a good laugh if he heard the demagogic quotes from Barry Goldwater Jr. or his Twitter-happy friends at the Rose Law Group when they rant and rave about the future fate of solar.

The truth is the future of solar is very bright – once community based not for profit utilities like the Salt River Project can get the pricing right.

President Theodore Roosevelt, who signed the reclamation act creating the Salt River Project in 1903, would be proud that the managers and the elected officials of the Project are providing the same reliable leadership to its customers that he provided himself during his entire lifetime of service to our country.

There has been much change in Arizona as we’ve grown over the past century, but one of the few constants has been the Salt River Project. Their work to provide affordable water is one of the principal reasons that the Valley has grown into the economic hub it is today.

We applaud SRP’s leadership on this issue as they manage the opportunities presented by emerging technologies to reduce costs and promote long-term reliable power and water in the harsh desert environment we live in today.

Voters Understand Education is Key to Arizona’s Economic Recovery

February 12th, 2015

The Arizona Board of Regents is on the leading edge of improving the university system as an entrepreneurial enterprise – implementing key reforms and focusing on performance. The results show this improvement: student performance is increasing, research investments have created jobs and over $1 billion in economic activity, and efforts are underway to reduce costly and unnecessary regulations. The fact is our state leaders should be looking to invest in higher education, not cut it further.

Board Chairman Mark Killian is absolutely right when he says, “Arizona’s public university system is foundational to the state’s economic prosperity, yet our state leads the nation in funding cuts, significantly impeding our ability to be competitive and, more importantly, to serve our students. Arizona’s students and families simply cannot be the backstop to the fiscal challenges that our policymakers are trying to solve.”

And the voters agree. Late last year, HighGround conducted a statewide, 500 person survey of likely General Election voters. The survey sample was balanced across age, party and regional demographics to represent a 2016 General Election cycle. The survey showed that when faced with our current budget crisis, there is willingness by the Arizona electorate to protect key institutions through increased revenue:

Moreover, the survey also showed that there is strong support for Killian’s notion that university education provides the educated and trained workforce for companies to hire and that workforce drives Arizona’s long term economic success and competitiveness.

This idea is also reflected in President Eileen Klein’s latest statement, “It is time to tackle head-on the real issue, which is creating a sustainable model for our state’s public higher education system. We look forward to working with legislators to develop this model that enables the board to stay true to its mission of access and affordability for all Arizona residents and to allow our university system to be the catalyst for strong economic growth in our state. Any reductions will be made thoughtfully with input from key university constituencies.”

The survey tested the following argument on a mean scale of 1 to 5 and it received overwhelming support from the Arizona electorate with 82.4% AGREEMENT.

In testing options to balance the budget, there is opposition to most of the proposed cuts, with the strongest opposition coming to any reduction in K-12 funding and any efforts to increase university tuition. Again, these mean scores are on a scale of 1 to 5.

The previous legislature cut the budget more than any other in Arizona history. Today, approximately only 25% our public universities’ operating funds come from the state. Following the cuts starting in 2009, our universities found ways to increase efficiencies, cut some programs while combining others, and increased tuition when necessary. Tuition increases are no longer a viable option as there is across the board consensus from the Arizona electorate:

Other states who invested in higher education are recovering from the recession at a faster rate than states like Arizona. Finding ways to fund our higher education and K-12 needs are key elements of restoring our state’s economic health. The universities are creating a results-oriented system. They’re asking the state to fund them based on results that move the economy forward – degrees produced and increases in research – not just bodies in seats. The voters agree that we need to reform the model to fully transform state funding of our universities to encourage high performance entrepreneurial academic institutions that can offer top-flight education at affordable prices as our state’s constitution intended.

HighGround Wins Four National Awards

January 26th, 2015

The HighGround team won recognition in four categories at the 2015 Reed Awards last Friday in Las Vegas. The Reeds are national awards from Campaigns & Elections, the preeminent “how-to” journal of politics, focused on the tools, tactics and techniques of the political consulting profession.

The HighGround team was recognized for its work in the following categories:

Yes on 480 newspaper won for Best Lit Piece. Prop 480 passed in November with 63% of the vote.

Binsbacher’s “Eleven Year Old Gets out the Vote” won Best Automated Phone Call for County, Local, Mayoral, or Judicial Candidate. Bridget Binsbacher was the top vote getter in her primary. Her general election is in March.

Superhero Phone Call won for Best Automated Phone Call for Independent Expenditure, Ballot Initiative, or Issue Advocacy/Public Affairs Campaign. The campaign on behalf of Arizonans Can Make a Difference with a vote was aimed at increasing voter participation.

Hickman for Supervisor won for Best Yard and Outdoor Sign. Clint Hickman won the August Primary with 69.1% of the vote and was uncontested in the General Election.

See the full list of winners.

Last year, HighGround won two Reed awards from Campaigns & Elections. In addition, HighGround was part of the team that won the prestigious “Campaign of the Year” in the Public Affairs/Advocacy category and also won a Gold Pollie from the American Association of Political Consultants

The Reed Awards, named after Campaigns & Elections’ founder Stanley Foster Reed, recognize excellence in campaign management, political consulting and political design.

Happy MLK Day

January 19th, 2015

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 28, 1963
Washington DC
Excepted from the speech given at the March on Washington

Certainly, the events of the past year should tell us that while we have come a long way in America, a long journey remains ahead. While racial bigotry is still a serious chord of discontent within our nation, it is too often used by our elected leaders to divide us, rather than to bring us together. Dr. King was the epitome of the selfless American leader that our country needs so badly today.

When Ronald Reagan declared Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday, he wrote, “Dr. King’s work is not done, but neither is his witness stilled. He urged again and again that all of us come to love and befriend one another, to live in brotherhood and reconciliation, to nourish each generation with the lessons of justice and charity that Dr. King taught with his unflinching determination, his complete confidence in the redeeming power of love, and his utter willingness to suffer, to sacrifice and to serve.”

“We must and we can all be drum majors for justice. That is our duty and glory as Americans.”

As Arizonans and Americans, we should celebrate this day and recommit ourselves and the words we use to those chords of public discussion which bring us together – the words which take us to a higher place that is worthy of all of the sacrifices made before us that enable us today to live in the greatest country on Earth.

Happy MLK Day.

HighGround Finalist for Eleven Reed Awards

January 7th, 2015

With the beginning of the New Year comes the announcement of the finalists for the prestigious 2015 Reed Awards from Campaigns & Elections. HighGround, Inc. has been named as a finalist in 11 categories for its work on various successful campaigns including Yes on 480 hospital bond campaign, Clint Hickman for Maricopa County Supervisor, and others. Click here to see the entire list.

This outstanding showing follows last year’s very successful awards season where HighGround won AAPC’s 2014 Campaign Excellence Public Affairs/Advocacy Campaign of the Year award for “Restoring Arizona” as well as two Reed Awards and a Gold Pollie Award.

“First and foremost, we would like to thank our clients for the opportunity to do our best work on their behalf,” said Chuck Coughlin, President of HighGround, Inc., “We are proud of the creative work we did this year to set our campaigns apart. We are honored by the recognition.”

Among the 11 categories, three are in the “Overall” categories which represent the best of the 2014 election cycle. HighGround earned accolades in a wide range of campaign disciplines including direct mail, phone calls, signs, and web videos.

HighGround was named as a finalist in the following categories:

•  Best Automated Phone Call Of 2014
•  Best Collateral Item or Sign of 2014
•  Best Direct Mail Piece of 2014
•  Best Mail Piece for Ballot Initiative
•  Best Mail Piece for Public Affairs/Issue Advocacy Campaign – Statewide or Local
•  Best Lit Piece
•  Best Automated Phone Call for County, Local, Mayoral, or Judicial Candidate
•  Best Automated Phone Call for Independent Expenditure, Ballot Initiative, or Issue Advocacy/Public Affairs Campaign
•  Best Web Video for Ballot Initiative
•  Best Web Video for Mayoral Candidate
•  Best Yard and Outdoor Signs

The Reed Awards, named after Campaigns & Elections’ founder Stanley Foster Reed, recognize excellence in campaign management, political consulting and political design.