Dueling Boycotts?

A popular bumper sticker reads, “Paddle faster: I hear banjos!,” alluding to the 1972 film, “Deliverance,” in which city boys come to ruin on a canoe trip into the back country of rural America. The river turns out to be a dangerous place.

One could hardly blame Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa if he starts hearing banjos. After Arizona passed its controversial immigration law, Mayor Villaraigosa pushed for a city boycott of Arizona. According to Politico.com, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce has threatened a counter-boycott of Los Angeles if it does not end its boycott of Arizona. (See Arizona in Boycott Power Play, by Andy Barr, Politico.com, 19.May.2010.) As Politico.com reports, Pierce has at least a semi-credible claim that he could make good on his threat, as one of five elected members of the commission that regulates Arizona utilities, which supply about 25 percent of LA’s electrical power, and a fair amount of its water.

Would Arizona utilities really cancel their supply contracts with Los Angeles? It hardly seems likely, but Pierce’s letter makes an excellent political stunt, perhaps enough to make Los Angeles voters uneasy about their city boycott, worried about finding themselves up the creek without a paddle – or any water to paddle in.

Meanwhile, boycotts of Arizona – actually threatened and merely rumored – continue to make news. Late last month, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association released a statement condemning the Arizona immigration law, and promising to consider “additional steps necessary to protect the rights and interests” of their players, if the law goes into effect. (See MurthyBlog, Three Strikes Against Arizona ImmigrationLaw, 17.May.2010.) This is not exactly the promise of a boycott, but a warning shot across the transom of a state that once lost the SuperBowl – and millions of dollars in tourism revenues – when then-Governor Evan Mecham blocked implementation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in Arizona. (See MurthyBlog, The Arizona Immigration Law: The Backlash Continues, 06.May.2010.).

An article in the Miami Herald suggests that opponents of the Arizona law are getting organized to push for a baseball boycott. (See Arizona Immigration Law Protested at Florida Marlins Game, by Alfonso Chardy, Miami Herald, 17.May.2010.) According to the Miami Herald, protesters gathered outside the stadium in Miami the other night when the Florida Marlins faced the Arizona Diamondbacks, complaining loudly about S.B. 1070. The Miami protest was small, with maybe 50 people in attendance, but this may be just the tip of the iceberg. The Miami Herald article characterized the Miami protest as “part of a broader movement aimed at persuading Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to move the 2011 All-Star Game from its currently scheduled location in Phoenix – if the Arizona immigration law is not withdrawn or modified.” A similar protest was held recently at Wrigley Field, calling on the Chicago Cubs to move their spring training camp from Arizona to Florida, as a gesture of protest. (See Cubs Urged to Move Spring Training Camp to Protest Arizona Immigration Law, by Lei Lei, Chicago Tribune, 14.May.2010.) Maybe it’s Arizona’s turn to hear those banjos…

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