When Proposition 8, the ballot initiative outlawing same-sex marriage, passed in November 2008, "we got calls threatening to boycott California," recalls Joe D'Alessandro, CEO of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We told them they were going to hurt the very LGBT businesses they were trying to support."
That's one reason why D'Alessandro is opposed to the boycott-Arizona movement, especially when it comes to travel. "It hurts the people it's supposed to help," he said. In this case, mostly workers in Arizona's hospitality industries - including, of course, Latinos - should the boycott, as San Francisco leaders appear to want, have some bite.
D'Alessandro said the bureau received 25 or more calls and e-mails Wednesday proclaiming the intention to boycott San Francisco. "I can't tell if it's a movement, but getting that number in a day on a single subject is not routine."
Arizona is one of San Francisco's top 10 markets for tourism and convention business, he added.
-- Steve Falk, CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, feels the same way about San Francisco's boycott plans, having received similar messages.
"And a reverse boycott would hurt San Francisco businesses and employees more than elected leaders making bad policy decisions," he said.
It's hard to get too upset about San Francisco politicians for seizing an opportunity to posture. It's what they do.
But the rapid-response treatment of an unjust Arizona law makes one think: It would be nice to see a similar sense of urgency about problems in San Francisco.
This city is losing revenue every day as a result of inaction from City Hall. They might not use the term "boycott," but the businesspeople and tourists who don't return because of their disgust with the condition of the streets or concerns about their safety represent lost dollars. So do the entrepreneurs or developers who go elsewhere because of the regulatory thicket here. So do the fleeing homeowners who become fed up with the drug dealing or street intimidation in their neighborhoods.
When it's a San Francisco crisis, the response at City Hall is all about process: endless hearings, exhaustive analysis of every potential unintended consequence, attempted shakedowns from various interest groups, but no real action. If it's an injustice in a foreign land, including the state of Arizona, San Francisco politicians are all business.
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