Ah, the best made plans of mice and men. I’m referring to a story in the Los Angeles Times Monday.
It is a case of political correctness that has turned and bitten the mayor and city council on the butt. Just a tiny bite, mind you.
The Los Angeles City Council by an overwhelming majority had voted to suspend business ties with companies in Arizona because of that state’s anti-illegal immigrant law.
There were a few exemptions because of contractual obligations. But, by and large, the city leaders patted themselves on the back and joined a growing boycott against Arizona.
First, the boycott.
In the eyes of the ethnic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and city councilmen, many who represent districts with vast majorities of Latinos, the Arizona law was seen as requiring police to determine the status of people they lawfully stop, encouraging racial profiling and violating constitutional rights.
It is not, in the minds of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, the Legislature and its supporters.
Either way, the law makes it illegal to be in the state of Arizona without proper legal papers such as birth certificates. passports or visas.
The LAPD wants an exemption to extend a contract with an Arizona firm that provides 32 intersections with cameras catching motorists running red lights.
Analysis by two city departments say the $3.8 million contract with American Traffic Solutions of Scottsdale costs the city $300,000 after fines — some as high as $500 — even though it reduces traffic accidents. Proponents contend the safety cost of reduced accidents in property, deaths, injuries and medical costs should be factored in to that equation.
American Traffic Solutions and another Arizona company are rated the two top companies in the country providing the service.
Ed Reyes, a vociferous boycott supporter and councilman representing a district of mostly minority voters, is caught between the proverbial rock and hard place.
He supports the LAPD exemption request because “I would not jeopardize Angelenos.” But, he would prefer other options:
One option, he said, could be to use the city’s contracting power to lure existing vendors to the Los Angeles area. Or the city could help new local companies develop the capacity — and jobs — to provide photo enforcement equipment and services. “I want to be opportunistic with these dollars and nurture new business and bring in new jobs,” he said. “This would be a classic case for that.”
LAPD Lt. Ron Katona, who oversees the camera enforcement program, said the boycott is likely to be a factor in choosing a new contractor but that he doubted the city would select a firm that was rated poorly or was far more costly just because it was not in Arizona.
The first exemption to the boycott resolution also was filed but withdrawn by LAPD when some councilmen balked. The department wanted to send officers to a safety training conference in Arizona.
This prompted the police officers’ union to complain that political correctness at City Hall was taking precedence over public safety.
The red light intersection contract extension will be voted on Tuesday by the city council.
The Arizona boycott, in my opinion, is ill served because the economic sector it hits hardest — conventions and the tourist industry — is serviced by a labor force primarily of Latinos, many of whom are legal residents.
Cross posted on
Posted comments are welcome and automatically go to my email address at [email protected] Remmers’ varied career spans 26 years in the newspaper business. Read a more thorough resume on The Remmers Report.
Jerry Remmers worked 26 years in the newspaper business. His last 23 years was with the Evening Tribune in San Diego where assignments included reporter, assistant city editor, county and politics editor.