Milwaukee County Board balks at Arizona boycott

    The Milwaukee County Board today decided, by a 17-2 vote, to send the proposed boycott of Arizona businesses back to its Finance Committee. Supervisors Lynne De Bruin and John Weishan Jr. cast the only votes in opposition to sending the matter back to committee.
    The issue could come back before the full County Board in July.
    Supporters of the boycott say it would be a way to protest Arizona’s new immigration law.
    In response to the proposal, an Arizona business owner pledged to boycott a Milwaukee business if the boycott was approved.
    Bob Kocher, the owner of a model railroad story in Phoenix, Ariz. sent a letter to the Milwaukee County Board saying he will stop doing business with Milwaukee-based Wm. K. Walthers Inc., a model railroad accessories distributor, if Milwaukee County boycotts Arizona businesses. Kocher says he has “made purchases in excess of $425,000” from Walthers during the last four years.
    Kocher challenged Milwaukee County Board members to read the Arizona law.
    “One you have read the bill, I challenge you to find any racist language anywhere in the text,” he said in his letter to the board. “Should you decide to ignore the facts and endorse an Arizona business boycott, I am prepared to respond in kind. Whenever possible, I will make all of my purchases from an alternative source. I have also contacted other retailers who do business with Walthers, both here in Arizona and across the U.S., as well as my entire customer base to garner further support. Nothing can be gained by anyone from a boycott built on falsehoods and baseless accusations.”
    J. Philip Walthers, president of Wm. K. Walthers, also sent a letter to the County Board objecting to the boycott.
    “As a Milwaukee County resident, business owner, employer and taxpayer I am opposed to this boycott,” Walthers said. “It is not only ill conceived, baseless, and counter-productive, but also displays a complete lack of understanding of basic economics. It is unfortunate that the current administration in Washington has chosen to polarize the country and spread misinformation on the situation in Arizona. It is even more unfortunate that some short sighted members of our County Board have jumped in and started playing politics with this issue. Recent revelations are now making it apparent that protecting the border in Arizona has become just another bargaining chip in achieving a national ideological agenda. Please remind the board that just as the boycott will hurt the job prospects of the good people of Arizona, it will also cost jobs for Milwaukee County.”
    State Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, also criticized the Arizona boycott.
    “For Milwaukee to tell fellow Americans living in Arizona that you want to throw them out of work because you’d rather buy products from China, Vietnam, or other places is very dangerous,” Grothman said. “This is the type of precedent that will tear at the very fabric of our nation. Our country will unravel if we boycott other states whenever we disagree with their actions. Imagine Arizona boycotting Harley-Davidson motorcycles. With their lack of respect for tolerance and diversity of opinion, the radical political leaders of Milwaukee are proving to be a real embarrassment to the entire state."
    – BizTimes Milwaukee

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