Bloomington chamber steps into Arizona boycott debate

June 11, 2010
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Gee, thanks for hitting us in the pocketbook. Would you please stick to your knitting? That in effect is the message of a new statement from the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce regarding the city’s boycott of Arizona announced earlier this month.

The action taken by the city’s elected officials against Arizona’s new illegal immigration statute has prompted more than 40 complaints to the chamber, mostly threats to boycott Bloomington unless the Arizona boycott is lifted, the chamber says. At a chamber the size of Bloomington's, that’s a crisis. Chamber members say they’re getting similar threats from suppliers and customers.

Chamber President Christy Gillenwater says it’s unclear how serious the threats are. Only time will tell if someone really does avoid a restaurant after a football game this fall.

Next time, she says, elected officials should think a little more about how their actions affect local business. Especially when the economy is rocky.

“The comments we received are very serious in tone,” Gillenwater says, adding, “We have challenges of our own, definitely enough to keep us busy in Bloomington and Monroe County.”

Reader comments to news articles and blog posts about the boycott run overwhelmingly negative against Bloomington.

But the city’s decision raises pesky questions about the purpose of local government: Just what should mayors and city councils provide beyond basic police and fire protection?

If at one end of the spectrum the task stops at keeping residents safe, then Bloomington officials went way, way over the top by not only commenting on another state’s law but actually fighting it.

At the other extreme, if officials, as extensions of the citizens who elected them, are obligated to take stands on social issues far and wide, then Bloomington might have done the right thing. (The same point could be argued on behalf of officials who, for example, would boycott a state for allowing gay marriage.)

Where do you come down? Are the Bloomington officials out of line? And what are your broader feelings about boycotts? Do they work?

  • Blooming Idiots
    Out-of-control Progressive Loons should, in face, stick to running their own governmental business. But, no, their elitist attitude overpowers any degree of common sense.

    No more Oliver Wine for me. I would just as soon buy from Brown County or Easley.

    You would think the loons would have enough sense to see where this could lead, but no.......
    • Boycott Bloomington
      I already purchased IU season tickets so I will have to use them. But I will not be spending any money at restaurants, stores, or other Bloomington establishments until they reverse this ridiculous boycott. I wonder how many council members have actually read the Arizona statute?
    • Kruzan's never been to AZ
      I bet he doesn't have a clue. Some of my family lives there and we visit regularly. Unless you go and get a taste of what's going on there, don't go casting stones. If he was there he would have a completely different view. BTW, I'm sure he's never read the bill. Go figure. He feels the need to spout off and he's never been there nor read the bill. What a goof! I won't be frequenting restaurants in B'ton on our way to southern Indiana. We'll find somewhere else.
    • Loonington, IN
      Yes, you read correctly Loonington, IN as the Mayor Kuzan and his entourage are a bunch of silly loons. Remember this is the same mayor who tried to outlaw national retail chains for locating in downtown Loonington. Get real Loonington voters!

      Hats off to the chamber of commerce for standing up for what is sensible!
    • Boycott
      Our dinner group of 10 dines once a month at nicer establishments averaging about $750 a pop plus another $100 or so at Nick's. We said BS to BT and moved it to Indy this weekend and will also be staying overnight downtown...another $600+ tab. Almost $1500 lost and doubt we'll come back. Don't need their liberal antics. So long morons.
    • Boycotting
      I was one of those who complained to the chamber and while I agree that it is not the fault of the Chamber or the businesses in Bloomington, I will not spend my money there until they change their position. Bloomington officials need to stick to their own backyards and leave the other states to mind theirs.
    • Bravo Bloomington
      I support the chamber's stance. Oliver Winery and all of the local businesses will have our support.
      • Bravo Bloomington
        I support the chamber's stance. Oliver Winery and all of the local businesses will have our support.
      • what?
        fishersmom...did you forget a no or did ur ignorance get in the way of the facts again?
      • My Company Will Boycott Bloomington
        As the owner of an IT consulting company I will not do any business in the city of Bloomington.

        I will direct my employees to do likewise. No meals, no wine from Oliver's, no hotels, no gas, no purchases of any kind with any business in Bloomington.

        I will support in every way an Indiana State law that does the same thing as the Arizona law.

      • Feds
        My understanding is that Az wrote the state law the same as the Fed law to eliminate any potential issues (since the Fed law is actually approved and invoked). This issue came into play because the Fed's did not do their job in enforcement... go figure...
      • Crazy
        Wow, you people are crazy. So what if gov't officials are saying they are boycotting Arizona? What does that have to do with a Bloomington based business? They didn't decide on a boycott. If a Bloomington business comes out and says it is in favor of the boycott, then make a point to not eat/stay/etc... there. You will most likely be costing a small business owner money, when he agrees with your opinion. The irrational knee jerk reaction of the gov't is just being followed by all of you with another one of equal stupidity. The city has one major contract involving Arizona (Republic Services) and the city admitted it wouldn't affect their current contract. It is nothing more than a piece of paper with a few signatures. Don't hurt local business owners over the opinion of a few elected officials.
        • boycott
          Look in the mirror and see who is ignorant. Have we become a totalitarian state where differing opinions aren't welcomed?
        • Get Over It
          Seriously, some of these responses are down right crazy! This "boycott" of AZ business by the city of Bloomington has no teeth anyway. Calm down and move on already.
        • Think about what you just said!
          The same EXACT thing you said can be applied to AZ businesses being boycotted for something that the AZ government chose to do. You just made the point of all that has a problem with the AZ boycott!
        • Idiots at Work
          I was one of those who contacted the C of C and the city officials. Here is my letter to them: So you wanted to impress your liberal friends and get in on some of the publicity surrounding the so called boycott of Arizona by a handful of politicians, who are ready to sell out America's security and economy in the hopes of gaining some votes from illegal invaders. Well, your ill-advised and inappropriate proclamation of a boycott of Arizona by Bloomington was not inconsequential. However, the consequences are not going to be what you hoped for. Do you not realize that your little bastion of liberal thought is outnumbered in Indiana and the United States by more than a thousand to one? You put Bloomington right in the cross hairs of the largest grass roots rebellion this country has seen since the revolution. You not only set up the businesses and citizens of Bloomington to be hurt economically, because true Americans will not patronize a place that goes against the very fibers of our way of life and sense of right. You also made your community a laughing stock. Do you really believe that the actions of a few mis-guided, short-sighted politicians in the little town of Bloomington, Indiana will have any effect at all on the hard working, patriotic, fed-up and not going to take it anymore citizens of Arizona?
        • Not One More Penny!
          The "local businesses" need to apply some pressure to the city council.

          My company probably only spends about $3,500.00 each year in Bloomington. A drop in the bucket. My family probably spends another $1,500.00 at IU ballgames, restaurants and Olivers each year.

          But our "drops" will add up!

          Not one more penny in Bloomington until they stop this non-sense!

        • LEtters
          I have sent letters to the City Council members, the mayor, the board of trustees of IU, the Dean of the Jacobs School of Music, and the Department Chair of the Opera Department at IU. I have decided to NOT buy season opera tickets this year, and I have decided to NOT be a listener of WFIU until this boycott is lifted. I have informed them and have taken them off of my radio dial. I am a music lover and am going to miss going, but Loonington needs to get real before I step foot in their city.
        • Get Real
          My family WAS planning on a reunion at The Pointe near Bloomington this fall. Now, we're going to Scottsdale, AZ instead. Thanks Bloomington, for the idea!
        • Loonington Liberals
          I will not be spending any of my money in Loonington until they reverse this position. To prove they really are serious about reversing their position I hope they set up checkpoints to make every person show their papers before entering the city. We should also setup documentation review checkpoints on 465. I don't mind showing my papers everyday if it makes us safer.
        • Please stay in the boonies and suburbs
          This is just too funny. A majority of the city finds what AZ is doing ethically wrong and they make their voice heard. Good for Bloomington!! Sounds like democracy. Isn't this what you want?

          Now the Indiana Republicans are getting fussy at their computers, making threat posts about how they will cease their visits to Bloomington. (Guys, we don't really believe most of you ever came in the first place). Stay in Greenwood and Castleton and Avon. Go to Applebees and shop at Walmart. Visit Scottsdale (by the way, have you been to Arizona? Scottsdale is probably the 100th coolest place there...)

          Bloomington is doing well in this recession, with unemployment rates almost 4 points lower than the state average. We can keep Kirkwood and the rest of the city going without you and, to be frank, most of us won't miss seeing you downtown ;)

        • Focus on real Issues
          Honestly I do not care how others feel about the Az. law. I know that I will not spend a dime of my money in Bloomington. I do not support their decision. STOP USING OUR tax paying dollars to compalin about AZ and use OUR tax paying dollars to foucus on real issues : OUR economy, OUR laws, OUR employment!! How much did it cost US, the tax payers for the government officals in Bloomington to make their public statement boycotting AZ?
        • really?
          Wow, I am amazed at the political witch hunt going on and head-shaking just-say-no impact that a handful of government individuals with their own personal agendas can do to the rest of the silent majority -- we residents, who are not, I might add, all of the same opinion. Just like the rest of the state, we are a diverse bunch of Hoosiers who don't appreciate being bunched in with a select few to suffer just because you disagree. I hate to think that our local entities will be slapped with hell-no-we-won't-go mentality because, without consent, some political figures do some national-front posturing. Geez, people. Don't blame the whole city on this one, much less the entirely separate university.
        • I think this works out fine.
          "Bloomington Advocates AZ Boycott"
          "Area Racists Vow to Stay Out of Bloomingotn"

          I'm only sorry we didn't try this years ago.
        • Boycott
          Unlike most of you I actually spend money in Bloomington. The chamber of commerce has made this silly letter a much bigger deal than it needs to be. I will be boycotting all businesses which belong to the local chamber!
        • AZ

          You say the majority of Bloomingtonites think the AZ law is ethically wrong. Funny, that it was patterned after the federal law already on the books but uninforced. Since when is being or enforcing "legal" unethical?

          Something you should know, this isn't a Republican thing. Parties don't count anymore because they have failed the people.

          So, stay in your little town with its nose up in the air. Enjoy life with the loons. As for the rest of us, we've had enough and we aren't buying or going.
        • Uninformed
          It is easy for someone in Indiana or somewhere other than Arizona, to have an opinion about a law somewhere else. But you don't live don't have to barricade yourself in your home because illegals involved in drug trafficking are having gun battles on your private property and pillaging legal property owners. How can you judge what law is appropriate in Arizona? And as many have already commented, the exact same law is already on the books at the federal level, and was not enforced. I have news for you...the police profile all the time. It is absurd/naive for you to think otherwise...they don't need a law to give them license to do it, they will do it subconsiciously anyway, they know crime statistics, they have field experience, they use that information every day. For someone to say the Arizona law will mean they will do more of it is ridiculous. They will apply the same rules they always do when searching, "plain view", etc. And some percentage of them will abuse the latitude it gives them, and those cases will most likely lead to judicial review.
          Would you not have proper identification on your person if you were traveling abroad?..most nations require that at a minimum. Yet we want to say that requirement is not fair here? Just so we have a block of voters that can be mobilized at election time?..the depths to which politicians and parties in this country sink is disgraceful.
          Having said that, I doubt there is a whole lot of teeth in the Bloomington will probably affect them worse than it does Arizona...and I doubt that many people will boycott Bloomington the extent that they do, I guess that is on the political leaders reap what you sow. It is a free country...I have no problem with the statement they made if they felt it was that important, even though I personally think it is uninformed.
        • LOL
          Dear Uniformed Jim,

          Your name is funny.


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