Published May 19, 2010
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday defiantly rejected a warning by a top Arizona utilities official that the state could cut off power to Los Angeles should the city proceed with its boycott of all things Arizona.
Spokesman David Beltran told Fox News that the message didn't even warrant a response.
"We're not going to respond to threats from a state which has isolated itself from the America that values freedom, liberty and basic human rights," Beltran said.
That was after Gary Pierce, a commissioner on the five-member Arizona Corporation Commission, wrote a letter to Villaraigosa slamming his City Council's decision to boycott the Grand Canyon State -- in protest of its immigration law -- by suspending official travel there and ending future contracts with state businesses.
Noting that a quarter of Los Angeles' electricity comes from Arizona power plants, Pierce threatened to pull the plug if the City Council does not reconsider.
"Doggone it -- if you're going to boycott this candy store ... then don't come in for any of it," Pierce told FoxNews.com.
In the letter, he ridiculed Villaraigosa for saying that the point of the boycott was to "send a message" by severing the "resources and ties" they share.
"I received your message; please receive mine. As a statewide 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," Pierce wrote.
"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."
Appearing to tap into local frustration in Arizona over the raft of boycotts and threatened boycotts from cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Pierce warned that Arizona companies are willing and ready to fight boycott with boycott.
"I am confident that Arizona's utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands," Pierce wrote. "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."
Pierce told FoxNews.com that he was speaking for himself, not the entire commission, though he has the support of at least one other member. But Arizona has some serious leverage over Los Angeles, as well as the rest of California. The state and city get electricity from a nuclear power plant outside Phoenix, as well as from coal-fired power plants in northern Arizona and two giant hydroelectric power generators along the Colorado River.
Despite that, the Los Angeles City Council voted overwhelmingly last week to ban future business with Arizona -- a decision that could cost Arizona millions of dollars in lost contracts.
Los Angeles officials were furious with the Arizona immigration law passed last month and joined local officials in cities across the country in pushing boycotts to register their dismay. Critics say the law will lead to racial profiling and civil rights abuses.
Arizona officials have defended the law, saying the state needed to take its illegal immigration problem into its own hands. Pierce said he's "supportive" of the state's efforts to control the border.
The law requires local law enforcement to try to verify the immigration status of anyone they have contact with whom they suspect of being an illegal immigrant. It empowers them to turn over verified illegal immigrants to federal custody. The legislation explicitly prohibits screening people based solely on race or national origin.
Fox News' Ron Ralston contributed to this report.