City wants to know who works on Trump’s wall

Would-be con­trac­tors may have to dis­close any in­volve­ment to win bids from L.A.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Emily Alpert Reyes

Los An­ge­les law­mak­ers are push­ing for city con­trac­tors to re­veal whether they are help­ing to build a wall along the Mex­i­can bor­der, ar­gu­ing that An­ge­lenos de­serve to know if firms are work­ing on the po­lar­iz­ing project.

At a Tues­day meet­ing, the City Coun­cil voted to draft a law that would re­quire com­pa­nies seek­ing or do­ing busi­ness with the city to dis­close whether they have con­tracts to help de­sign, build or pro­vide sup­plies for “any pro­posed bor­der wall be­tween Mex­ico and the United States of Amer­ica.”

“We want to know if there are peo­ple who do busi­ness with the city of Los An­ge­les ... who wish to profit from build­ing a wall that would di­vide us from our near­est and dear­est neigh­bor, Mex­ico,” Coun­cil­man Gil Cedillo said Tues­day.

It is the lat­est stand that L.A. law­mak­ers have taken against the poli­cies of Pres­i­dent Trump, who ral­lied sup­port­ers around build­ing that wall dur­ing an ac­ri­mo­nious cam­paign. Trump and his sup­port­ers ar­gue a wall would pro­tect the coun­try and com­bat crime by stop-

ping peo­ple from cross­ing il­le­gally.

Cedillo, who pro­posed the law, told re­porters that the wall was “re­pug­nant,” de­nounc­ing it as a racist and xeno­pho­bic plan that de­fied the val­ues of Los An­ge­les.

“Im­mi­grants are the foun­da­tion, here in Los An­ge­les, of our econ­omy. They are tightly woven into the so­cial fabric of this city. And you can­not sep­a­rate them or di­vide their fam­i­lies here in this city without dis­rupt­ing the char­ac­ter of this city,” Cedillo said.

The pro­posed law would not ac­tu­ally ban com­pa­nies work­ing on the wall from do­ing busi­ness with Los An­ge­les; Cedillo de­scribed the rules as a de­ter­rent and said he would vote against city con­tracts with such firms.

It could also mark a first step to­ward stricter rules: Cedillo and other city of­fi­cials are seek­ing ad­vice on whether L.A. can ban those firms or take other steps to avoid them, such as scor­ing them lower when they com­pete for city con­tracts, Cedillo spokesman Fredy Ceja said.

“We’re look­ing for guid­ance on what, legally, we’re al­lowed to do,” Ceja said.

Some Cal­i­for­nia law­mak­ers are al­ready try­ing to go fur­ther: State Sen. Ri­cardo Lara (D-Bell Gar­dens) has pushed to pro­hibit Cal­i­for­nia from award­ing con­tracts to com­pa­nies that are pro­vid­ing goods or ser­vices to build a bor­der wall. Lara ar­gued that the pur­pose of the wall was “to spread ha­tred and di­vi­sion.”

“I don’t want to look back in 10 years and say Cal­i­for­ni­ans didn’t do ev­ery­thing we could to block the wall,” Lara said in a writ­ten state­ment.

Lara plans to con­tinue pur­su­ing the bill in the fall, with amend­ments meant to specif­i­cally tar­get “prime con­trac­tors” rather than small busi­nesses.

In North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, city of­fi­cials in Berke­ley and Oak­land have also voted to steer clear of com­pa­nies work­ing on a bor­der wall. Crit­ics have ar­gued that such boy­cotts are an over­reach and not legally sound.

Brian Tur­mail, spokesman for the Associated Gen­eral Con­trac­tors of Amer­ica, de­nounced boy­cotts as a kind of “pu­rity test” that would dis­crim­i­nate against com­pa­nies and ul­ti­mately hurt work­ers.

“What­ever your pol­i­tics are on the bor­der wall, pun­ish­ing lo­cal work­ers is not the right way to go about ex­press­ing your opin­ion,” Tur­mail said.

“It opens up a Pan­dora’s box for other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to start dis­crim­i­nat­ing against firms that do work they find po­lit­i­cally un­palat­able,” such as build­ing fa­cil­i­ties for Planned Par­ent­hood, Tur­mail added.

The Los An­ge­les Area Cham­ber of Com­merce has not taken a for­mal stand on the L.A. pro­posal, but its chief ex­ec­u­tive, Gary Toebben, said that he per­son­ally felt a “lit­mus test” would set a bad prece­dent.

“There is no end to the num­ber of le­gal, busi­ness or per­sonal re­la­tion­ships that con­trac­tors could po­ten­tially be asked about or judged on that have noth­ing to do with the qual­ity of their work,” Toebben said in an email.

Cedillo dis­missed the idea that such po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions were any­thing new, point­ing to an ear­lier coun­cil de­ci­sion to boy­cott Ari­zona af­ter politi­cians there passed a law tar­get­ing im­mi­grants in the coun­try il­le­gally.

L.A. law­mak­ers voted 13 to 0 to draft the new rules, with Coun­cil­men Paul Koretz and Bob Blu­men­field ab­sent. City lawyers must now draft the pro­posed law and bring it back to the coun­cil for ap­proval.

“I do think that it’s im­por­tant for us on this coun­cil to send a mes­sage as to ... what our val­ues are and the type of peo­ple that we want to do busi­ness with,” Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Herb Wes­son said be­fore Tues­day’s vote.

The coun­cil has re­peat­edly staked out public po­si­tions in op­po­si­tion to Trump and his poli­cies, in­clud­ing back­ing a res­o­lu­tion ask­ing Congress to in­ves­ti­gate whether the pres­i­dent should be im­peached.

Allen J. Sch­aben Los An­ge­les Times

“YOU CAN­NOT sep­a­rate [im­mi­grants] or di­vide their fam­i­lies ... without dis­rupt­ing the char­ac­ter of this city,” says City Coun­cil­man Gil Cedillo, seen in June.

Katie Falken­berg Los An­ge­les Times

A BOR­DER fence in Cochise County, Ariz. “Pun­ish­ing lo­cal work­ers is not the right way to go about ex­press­ing your opin­ion,” an in­dus­try spokesman says of steer­ing work away from com­pa­nies help­ing to build a wall.

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