Los Angeles is a creative place. You can depend on the city to figure out some innovative way to punish businesses.

Just last week, City Council members decided they didn’t like Arizona’s new law that cracks down on illegal immigrants, so they came up with an out-of-the-box way to flog businesses. They ordered city departments to see if they could kill any contracts with companies headquartered in that state.

That’ll teach those companies. How dare they be located in Arizona and actually sell their goods or services here? Los Angeles will make them hurt.

Now, it’s perfectly fine for the City Council to protest someone else’s law. What’s not so fine is to take out their anger on businesses. This is a thought that probably never occurred to our city leaders, but most companies headquartered in Arizona didn’t have a thing to do with that law. They’re innocents caught in the crossfire.

I imagine most businesses there, as everywhere, are struggling in this difficult economy, trying to keep moving, to trim where they can and borrow if they can and figure out some way at the end of the month to make payroll – you know, making the hard choices city officials don’t make.

But if any of those Arizona business people were stupid enough to sell something to the city of Los Angeles, well, maybe they should forget their dreams of sending their kids to college. Any business that comes near Los Angeles is going to get hurt, sooner or later. The city will see to that.

Here’s another thought that probably didn’t occur to our city electeds: Maybe this boycott will hurt us.

For example, consider that the city-owned Port of Los Angeles gets its clean-burning trucks from Arizona companies. So maybe we’ll now need to buy more expensive trucks from someplace else to keep the port’s Clean Truck Program going. (The Clean Truck Program, in case you missed it, is the one that the mayor dreamed up to kill off hundreds of small businesses at the port so that the Teamsters could have an easier time taking over there.)

But there’s another way we could be hurt: Maybe there’ll be a counterboycott. Think about it. According to Pew Research Center poll last week, fully 73 percent of Americans said they approve the concept of requiring people to produce documents verifying their legal status if police ask for them. Fifty-nine percent approve of the Arizona law.

So there’s a lot more of them than us. And if they get ticked off enough, maybe they’ll start a counterboycott that will banish L.A. companies and products. Actually, Los Angeles may be particularly vulnerable, since this is the place that came up with the whole sanctuary city concept.

Indeed, the City Council is playing with fire with this boycott. It may end up burning local companies.

Now that I think about it, the council members may be grateful if outsiders boycott L.A. companies. That way, the council members don’t have to dream up another creative new way to punish local businesses themselves.

Charles Crumpley is editor of the Business Journal. He can be reached at ccrumpley@labusinessjournal.com.

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