Supervisor against boycott

Glendale News Press

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich reiterated his opposition on Wednesday to a boycott of Arizona in response to the state's contentious illegal immigration law.

Supervisors Antonovich and Don Knabe were on the losing end of the 3-2 vote Tuesday to join the city of Los Angeles and a growing list of local governments protesting Arizona's new law targeting illegal immigration.

Antonovich rallied Wednesday with Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner outside the county Hall of Administration, contending that the boycott was an economic catastrophe at a time of sky-high unemployment and deficits. To signal to a trading partner that the county wished to sever its business ties was absurd, he said.

Tony Bell, a spokesman for the supervisor, said illegal immigration has been an economic catastrophe to the tune of $1.5 billion a year in health care, criminal justice and welfare costs — and that doesn't include the billions spent on education.

The supervisors directed county officials to suspend all nonessential business travel to Arizona, review all contracts with companies there and report on how those contracts can be terminated.

"It is an irony that the boycott will create a real hardship for the very people they want to protect and assist," Bell said.

The boycott, which also calls on the county's pension fund to divest itself of Arizona's state and municipal bonds, was supported by Supervisors Gloria Molina, Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Officials from Burbank and Glendale said there were no plans to mull boycotts, or to weigh in on state or federal immigration matters.

Burbank Mayor Anja Reinke cited state sovereignty, adding that her council had "absolutely no plans" to discuss the issue.

The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education on Tuesday voted unanimously to condemn the Arizona law, and called on district officials to explore ways to curtail employee travel, economic support of Arizona and companies based there.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in April signed the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act into law. It requires police to determine the immigration status of anyone stopped and suspected of being in the country illegally and takes effect July 29. The law also makes it a state crime to lack appropriate immigration papers, but prohibits using race or national origin to question suspected illegal immigrants.

Officials from the U.S. Justice Department drafted a legal challenge declaring the law unconstitutional because it encroaches on the federal government's authority to protect national borders.

Critics contend that the law unfairly targets Latinos and could lead to racial profiling, while proponents insist that it does not provide authorities with any more power than they already have under federal law.

A poll released Tuesday found that about three-fourths of voters in the U.S. thought boycotting Arizona was a wrongheaded initiative. The nationwide survey of 1,914 registered voters also found that a majority support the law, with 51% of voters approving of the measure and 31% disapproving, according to the Quinnipiac University poll. The poll had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

'Heritage school' measure moves on State Sen. Bob Huff's (R-Diamond Bar) measure to establish and define "heritage schools" moved to the Assembly this week after unanimously passing in the Senate. Because heritage schools are not defined in state code as educational entities, the Department of Social Services sometimes designates them as child-care centers, and forces them to close. Without the legislation, many heritage schools would be shuttered, Huff said.

Defined as privately financed, culture-based educational centers, heritage schools have operated for decades. They meet after regular school hours, on the weekends and during the summer, outside of the public school system.

"Heritage schools play an integral role in our communities, as they are a major source of language and heritage instruction at the K-12 level," Huff said in a statement. "They help prepare students for courses in advanced language and literature at colleges and universities at no taxpayer expense, and some public schools even grant credit to students for classes taken at these heritage schools. These schools provide a very beneficial service, particularly with less funding available for public education."

Schiff introduces spending bill Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has joined members of the so-called Blue Dog Coalition to introduce a bill that would make strategic investments in federal programs to prevent wasteful government spending.

The Preventing Waste, Fraud and Abuse Act of 2010 would provide executive agencies with financial support to prevent abuse in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

It would also ensure that individuals don't pay more than their fair share of taxes and save more than $132 billion over the next 10 fiscal years, according to the legislative group.

"This legislation will help us to identify and root out the waste, fraud and abuse in federal programs that will allow us to improve program efficiency, and ensure the long-term economic and national security of our country," he said.

— Christopher Cadelago

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