(by Dan Whitcomb, YahooNews.com) Reuters, LOS ANGELES – An Arizona power commissioner has dared Los Angeles officials to turn off the electricity they get from Arizona if they are serious about boycotting the state over its crackdown on illegal immigration.
In a sharply worded letter to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that raises the political stakes for America’s second-largest city, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce noted that Los Angeles gets 25 percent of its electricity from Arizona and challenged the mayor to cut off that supply.
“If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so that Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation,” Pierce said in the letter.
“If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona’s economy.”
The letter was sent to Villaraigosa on Tuesday and provided to Reuters by Pierce’s office.
Villaraigosa, who was in Washington on Wednesday for the visit of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, issued a statement in which he declined to take up Pierce’s challenge directly.
“The Mayor stands strongly behind the city council on this issue and will not respond to threats from a state which has isolated itself from the America that values freedom, liberty and basic civil rights,” Villaraigosa said in the statement.
A spokesman for the mayor declined to comment beyond the statement. City Councilman Ed Reyes, who sponsored Los Angeles’ economic boycott measure of Arizona and made headlines with his fiery rhetoric, could not be reached for comment.
Pierce told Reuters in an interview that his letter was not intended as a threat because Arizona officials could not legally terminate the power agreements on their own.
“They own that power, they could negotiate to rid themselves of that power, it’s a benefit to Los Angeles,” he said. “If you’re going to divest yourself, divest yourself all the way. So swallow deep, mayor and city council, and do it. Or back off and let’s be friends again.”
Los Angeles officials voted 13-1 last Wednesday to end about $8 million in contracts with Arizona, becoming the largest U.S. city to impose such an economic boycott.
The city left another $50 million in contracts in place but the council has directed department heads to refrain from doing future business with Arizona or companies headquartered there.
Pierce is one of five elected members of the Arizona Corporation Commission, which governs water, power and public utilities companies in the state, as well as rail and pipeline safety and securities law.
Copyright ©2010 Reuters for YahooNews. All rights reserved. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. The information contained in this Reuters News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of Thomsan Reuters. Visit news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100519/ts_nm/us_usa_immigration_losangeles for the original post.
1. What action has the City of Los Angeles taken against the state of Arizona as a response to Arizona’s newly enacted law on illegal immigration?
2. How did Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce respond to Los Angeles’ announced boycott?
3. Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa called Mr. Pierce’s letter a “threat.” How does Mr. Pierce defend himself from this allegation?
4. Do you support Los Angeles’ boycott of Arizona, which will have a negative economic effect on the citizens of Arizona?
5. Do you think Arizona should agree to Los Angeles’ demand that they repeal their newly passed law giving police the power to question a detainee’s immigration status? Explain your answer.
6. Read Mr. Pierce’s letter to Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa under “Background” below. Do you think he has a valid argument? Explain your answer.
The following is the text of the letter Arizona Commissioner Gary Pierce sent to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: (read original here)
Dear [Los Angeles] Mayor Villaraigosa:
I was dismayed to learn that the Los Angeles City Council voted to boycott Arizona and Arizona-based companies–a vote you strongly supported–to show opposition to [Arizona’s new law] SB 1070 (Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act).
You explained your support for the boycott as follows: “While we recognize that as neighbors, we share resources and ties with the State of Arizona that may be difficult to sever, our goal is not to hurt the local economy of Los Angeles, but to impact the economy of Arizona. Our intent is to use our dollars–or the withholding of our dollars–to send a message.” (emphasis added)
I received your message; please receive mine. As a state-wide elected member of the Arizona Corporation Commission overseeing Arizona’s electric and water utilities, I too am keenly aware of the “resources and ties” we share with the City of Los Angeles. In fact, approximately twenty-five percent of the electricity consumed in Los Angeles is generated by power plants in Arizona.
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 any power from Arizona-based generation. I am confident that Arizona’s utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands. If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona’s economy.
People of goodwill can disagree over the merits of [Arizona’s law] SB 1070. A state-wide economic boycott of Arizona is not a message sent in goodwill.
Commissioner Gary Pierce
Read the Arizona illegal immigration law SB 1070 at azleg.gov/alispdfs/council/SB1070-HB2162.PDF.