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Two local groups continue to protest the Sacramento City Council more than one month after the council decided to boycott Arizona companies.
One of the groups, Boycott Sacramento, is intentionally avoiding local businesses in response to the council’s sanctions on Arizona businesses.
Another group, Recall Sacramento, is saying it will attempt to remove certain council members from office. However, Assistant City Clerk Stephanie Mizuno said the group has not yet officially started the recall process.
The groups formed after the City Council decided June 15 to dispute Arizona’s new immigration laws by boycotting that state’s companies. The council passed the boycott in a 6-1 vote, with council members Steve Cohn and Lauren Hammond absent, and Robbie Waters voting in opposition.
The City Council stepped outside the court system when it decided to boycott Arizona, said Gerald Klaas, organizer of Boycott Sacramento.
“It’s a step toward mob rule,” Klaas said.
Arizona’s new law states that police officers must investigate a person’s immigration status if they think he or she is an undocumented immigrant. Officers must examine immigration status during “enforcement of any law or ordinance of a county, city or town” in Arizona, the law also states.
But a new federal court ruling on Arizona’s law could complicate the Sacramento City Council’s protest. Parts of Arizona’s law were stalled last week by a ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton, who deemed them to be unconstitutional, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The implications of the ruling on Sacramento’s boycott of Arizona are unclear at this point. Matt Ruyak, a supervising deputy city attorney in Sacramento, said the city attorney’s office is now analyzing Bolton’s ruling.
At the same time, city staff is still assessing the dollar amount of the business it does with Arizona companies, said city spokeswoman Amy Williams.
Meanwhile, Klaas, a Sacramento County resident, said he estimates that Boycott Sacramento has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business to companies within the city limits. He said he based his estimate on e-mails from people who said they did not buy large-ticket items in Sacramento because of the city’s boycott of Arizona.
Klaas said he and his wife estimate they are not spending about $400 per month at Sacramento businesses.
Boycott Sacramento is not related to Recall Sacramento, a group organized by Republican congressional candidate Paul Smith.
The Sacramento City Council is not “pro-business, pro-jobs in any stretch of the imagination,” Smith said. “When they elected to sanction another state, it was none of their business to do that considering the mess the city’s in.”
Asked if his effort was a self-serving move for his congressional campaign, Smith said it is “imperative” that he show the community in his district that he is concerned about Sacramento businesses.
“I don’t want to take over a district in December that’s all boarded-up downtown because all the business was driven out,” he said.
Smith said the group aims to recall council members Rob Fong and Steve Cohn first, but that his group may also try to kick out Mayor Kevin Johnson and council members Bonnie Pannell, Sandy Sheedy and Kevin McCarty. Supporters of an effort to recall the Sacramento City Council are upset with Fong and Cohn more than the other members, Smith said. Fong is ignoring voters, Smith claimed, and Cohn did not vote on the Arizona issue.
The group will not try to recall council members Ray Tretheway, Lauren Hammond or Robbie Waters because they are leaving office, he said.
Mark Williams, the Tea Party Express’ former controversial spokesman, made remarks at a recent Recall Sacramento protest, Smith said, but Williams has “baggage,” and the group does not consider him to be a member. Williams’ statements on a July blog drew widespread media attention.
Smith said about 2,000 people have signed up on the Recall Sacramento website.
Cohn said Smith’s Recall Sacramento group was a publicity campaign. “In my case, he can’t do it legally until next June,” Cohn said. “It’s a waste of time to even talk about it.”
RE Graswich, Johnson’s spokesman, said there is nothing to comment on until the group provides documentation of its recall.
Councilman Rob Fong did not return phone calls Monday afternoon.
Mizuno said Recall Sacramento’s campaign has not begun the recall process. “Right now, there’s a lot of talk, but no one seems to be doing anything,” Mizuno said.
The Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce opposed the boycott of Arizona companies. In a June 1 letter to Mayor Kevin Johnson, Chamber President Matt Mahood raised concerns that a boycott on Sacramento businesses could take place if the City Council boycotts Arizona. Read the Chamber’s letter here.
Photo of Paul Smith by Kathleen Haley. Photos of Sacramento City Council members by Brandon Darnell.
Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.