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The city's boycott of Arizona

By Scott Tibbs, June 9, 2010

The ten elected Democrats in city government sent a letter to the Governor of Arizona (PDF) proclaiming that the city of Bloomington would be boycotting the state of Arizona in protest of the state's law that seeks to slow down the flow of illegal aliens into the state. (Of course, nothing will stop illegal immigration, but this may make a dent.)

Whether the law is a good thing or not, the city's boycott represents cynical and dishonest policy. This should have been a resolution voted on in a public meeting by the city council, rather than a proclamation issued after a decision had been made behind closed doors.

One of the most vigorous defenders of the city's Democratic leaders (and a member of the Monroe County Redevelopment Commission) defended the boycott with this laughable response:

True, if they were announcing to the governor of Arizona that the city of Bloomington was boycotting the products of Arizona. But that is not what the letter did--it announced to the governor that the signees (two elected administratior and 8 council members who have fiscal allocation and monitoring authority) that they would URGE city department heads within fiscal prudence to not purchase from Arizona (and ENCOURAGE city buisness to do the same).

So department heads who serve at the pleasure of the Mayor are "urged" to follow through on the Mayor's political agenda item, and that's not an official policy? Are we to expect that when these department heads are "urged" to support a political position taken by the Mayor in a letter sent on official city letterhead, this is not an order?

Right. That's believable.

The city and its defenders can argue from now until the end of time that the language of the letter "is not the same as proclaiming an official boycott" but common sense demonstrates otherwise. Hiding behind technicalities is cynical and dishonest, and demonstrates that Bloomington Democrats hold city residents in contempt.

There is no reason this could not have been a resolution, especially since all eight Democrats on the nine-member city council signed the letter. It would have passed easily and would be official city policy already. Furthermore, the city council has a long history of approving resolutions on issues outside their jurisdiction, from foreign policy to the so-called "Patriot Act." Since the mayor and city council made a public policy decision on the use of taxpayer funds, there should have been a vote instead of a proclamation.

Those who blindly defend the decision to bypass public input can argue the technicalities of the law as much as they want. The city's boycott may technically be legal without a public hearing and an official vote, but it is bad policy because it sidesteps openness in government. The Democrats should be ashamed of themselves.

It is true that both elected officials and other employees of government (at all levels) make decisions on a daily basis without public input. I am not suggesting that all of those decisions be subject to prior public input. But this is not a run of the mill decision about what brand of office supplies to purchase: this is a political policy meant to make a political statement. Therefore, this should have been subject to a public hearing.

What exactly do Bloomington Democrats have against conducting public policy in the open, with the opportunity for public comment and with votes recorded after a televised meeting? What are they afraid of?