When L.A. City Councilmembers approved an economic boycott of Arizona back in May (a trendy move at the time, echoed by the likes of Lady Gaga and Rage Against the Machine), they must have thought themselves mighty noble in the face of notorious SB 1070, the discriminatory Arizona law that allowed for racial profiling.
So much for that. The only rebellious councilmember who didn't approve the boycott is now rendering it useless -- and the rest of the council's not exactly standing in his way.
The Public Safety Committee agreed today that Los Angeles police and safety officials should continue buying and maintaining their Tasers through the Scottsdale-based company Taser International, Inc. Councilman and committee chair Greig Smith received unanimous approval from his council buddies on the committee -- Tony Cardenas, Jan Perry, Ed Reyes and Dennis Zine -- and will now tap the rest of the herd for a final OK.
This boycott exemption is the third of its kind. The first was made in June, when Smith and his cozy committee found that contracting a non-Arizonian provider for red-light cameras in L.A. would be too expensive. (We mostly just wished they would get rid of the cameras altogether. Win-win!).
Again, in July, when faced with renewing the contract of an LAX shuttle provider with offices in Arizona, the council brushed aside the boycott on familiar grounds: Taxpayer dollars were at stake.
(Of course, an Arizona boycott is kind of hypocritical in the first place, considering Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials in our own true-blue California are free to do their own racial profiling through the federally mandated Secure Communities program.)
But a Taser company? Could that be any more ironic? Though the city of Los Angeles doesn't provide Tasers to immigration-enforcement officers, a recent death on the Mexico-California border makes the correlation all too glaring. Of all the Arizona companies the council should be boycotting, Taser International is probably the No. 1 candidate.
Smith gave City News Service his rationale for suspending the boycott:
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"No other company provides Taser-compatible dart cartridges and related
equipment, nor maintenance and repair of devices manufactured by this
company. Further, current warranties would be invalidated should
the city attempt to contract with another vendor for maintenance services."
We asked the councilman's spokesperson if there's ever been a case in which the boycott has been upheld.
"Some police officers were going to travel to a law-enforcement conference type thing in Arizona," he said. "The way it was resolved is they said they weren't going to go. But [Smith] would have supported an exemption for that, as well."
Thanks to Smith, said officers will at least still be wearing 'Zona-bred Tasers on their hips, if City Councilmembers predictably pass his recommendation in their sleep when it makes its way to council floor.