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Pierce: Impact on Yuma from boycott likely small
Gary Pierce, one of five Arizona Corporation Commissioners and a former Yuma County supervisor, believes the recent call by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the city council there for a boycott on Arizona is simply political flag waving which shouldn't have a vast economic impact on private businesses in Yuma.
The L.A. mayor and the city council voted 13-1 to boycott Arizona by halting travel by city workers to the state and to stop spending money on Arizona businesses in protest of a recently passed state law directed at illegal immigrants.
Pierce said average citizens in Yuma probably won't be affected.
"I really don't think so," he told the Yuma Sun during a visit Friday.
"If someone has contracts with them, the city of L.A. may end (short term or expiring contracts) and go somewhere else. They could affect businesses like that, but my guess is, if it is a contract that really benefits the city of L.A., they'll find a way around it and say they can't get rid of that contract. I think it (will be) the contracts that are convenient for them to get rid of."
Pierce said it would only become an issue if private companies in Los Angeles go along with the boycott.
"The city of L.A. can't control private contracts. If there is a contract with the city, perhaps. If a lot of people follow suit, it could have other effects, but for us here in Yuma, the produce and other things that go on in the winter time and in the spring, I don't see (the city of L.A.) being able to affect that, and that would be the biggest concern."
Pierce has been in national headlines recently for sending a letter to the mayor and the city council on May 18 offering to stop sending the city electricity generated from plants in Arizona if they are serious about the boycott.
The letter read, "If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives power from Arizona-based generation. I am confident that Arizona's utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands."
Pierce did not expect his letter to garner such widespread attention from national media.
"Not even close," he said. "It is something that needed to be done. I think the mayor and city council, it needed to be pointed out that it is a bit of hypocrisy. (They) do a lot of business here and they want to pick and choose the kind of business they do and call it a boycott. If they back themselves into a corner on this boycott and Arizona doesn't change, at what point do we become friendly neighbors again? I thought, this is just pure politics... and I just wanted to point that out to them."
Pierce believes the city of L.A. doesn't have the will to fully support an all out boycott on Arizona which would include ending their reliance on Arizona electricity.
"It's almost politically just a way to wave a flag," he said. "The response from the mayor's office said (my letter) was a threat. I didn't threaten them, I basically said... If you really believe in this you’ll self-inflict this wound and that was the point. Are they willing to do that? Do they recognize that? Or are they just playing political games? The threat is from them, and are they serious about their threat?"
Pierce believes the city of L.A. is now caught between a rock and a hard place.
"They have kind of boxed themselves in. How do you save face now and end this boycott when you’ve had the president of Mexico... saying right on to the boycott and patting you on the back. Who are you catering to mayor? Your friend the president of Mexico or your constituents, who, based on the responses I’ve been getting from Los Angeles, overwhelmingly support our position that there shouldn't be a boycott?"
Pierce hopes others considering a boycott on Arizona think twice before doing so.
"I want other cities, as they consider these boycotts, to see the backlash. This is backfiring on (L.A.) and I am delighted to have had a part."
Pierce said there is no intention by Arizona to mirror L.A. and boycott California in response.
"Not a chance. We are going to come to California and enjoy ourselves and do all the things we enjoy doing because we are adults and we don't play games like this. This is not about harming Californians, this is a disagreement between political leaders in the city of Los Angeles and it is just as narrow as that as far as I am concerned."
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.