Thursday, 13 May 2010

L.A. City Council Votes to Boycott Arizona

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With a jerk of the knee so violent it probably broke their own jaw, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 Wednesday to boycott Arizona businesses. The measure (applicable only to government contracts) is reportedly in response to Arizona’s recent enactment of the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, or S.B. 1070, which enforces existing federal law requiring immigrants to provide proof of legal status.

According to a spokesman for the City Council, a boycott of Arizona would “likely affect some $8 million in contracts with the state [Arizona].”

The resolution bars Los Angeles from conducting business with Arizona until the legislature of that state repeals the anti-illegal immigration statute. The vote followed a heated deliberation during which many members of the council recounted their individual family histories and their descent from immigrants.

Predictably, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa applauded the move and promised beforehand to officially sanction and support the boycott.

A report issued by the city’s chief legislative analyst of the boycott’s potential economic impact indicates that the move could affect investments and contracts valued at nearly $52 million, including contracts for airport, harbor, and trucking services. The findings also include a recommendation that the L.A. City Council suspend travel and cut all existing and future business ties with the Grand Canyon State and companies based therein.

With those numbers in mind and undoubtedly with the realization of the detriment such a stance would be to businesses owned and operated by Losangelinos, one of the measure’s co-authors, Councilwoman Janice Hahn, demurred and declared such a radical reaction to be “impractical” and reckoned that only about $7 million in city contracts should come under the rubric of her resolution. 

"US Airways is based in Arizona and they certainly fly in and out (of Los Angeles)" and it would hardly be feasible to end those flights, Hahn said before the council vote. 

One area of concern to the economic relationship between Los Angeles and Arizona that most assuredly will not be sacrificed on the altar of race baiting is the contract between the city's Department of Water and Power and Arizona, providing millions of Californians with crucial energy.

The councilmen will surfeit themselves with lower hanging fruit: contracts with Arizona for helicopter services, Taser guns, waste management, engineering, and surveillance equipment, for example. While not as lucrative or as life-sustaining as energy, these contracts are just as vital to the small business owners whose families are fed with the profits from these contracts. 

As expected, the text of the resolution cites the potential for racial profiling in Arizona's new law as the impetus for the city council’s action. Furthermore, the measure enacting the boycott calls the Arizona law “unconstitutional,” though it doesn’t specifically explain how.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 into law on April 23. The act, officially styled the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, passed both houses of the Arizona legislature after weeks of vigorous debate. In her remarks on the occasion of the bill signing, Governor Brewer cited the lassitude of the federal immigration and border patrol bureaucracy as the catalyst for the measure: “The bill I’m about to sign into law — Senate Bill 1070 — represents another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix,” she said. Governor Brewer continued, “We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act. But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

Governor Brewer declared the boycotts to be “unfortunate and misguided,” chiefly because the provisions attracting the most venomous attacks are mere mirrors of a federal requirement that legal immigrants carry immigration papers. "It's already the law in the United States, and I have a responsibility to stand up and protect the people of Arizona and we will do that," Brewer said Tuesday.

As the for the accusation by the L.A. City Council that her state’s new law will encourage racial profiling, Brewer called such talk "just pure rhetoric.”

"I find it really interesting that we have people out there that are attempting a boycott in favor of illegal actions in Arizona. That to me is just unbelievable."

For her part, Councilwoman Hahn said: "We want to stand back and say that we're against it. We're hoping that Arizona will be the last state to do this instead of just the first state to do it."

Judging from the picking and choosing by the City Council of the contracts with Arizona interests that will be voided, breached, or discouraged, it is apparent that Hahn and her cohorts aren’t absolutely against perceived racial profiling, rather they are against racial profiling so long as it doesn’t deleteriously affect the Golden State’s all but bankrupt bottom line. Way to take a bold moral stance against racism, Los Angeles.

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