Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ)
January 14, 2007

Author: E.J. Montini, The Arizona Republic Estimated printed pages: 3

The heaviest hitter on the Anti-Migrant All-Star Team, state Rep. Russell Pearce, was standing at the plate, bat in hand, and I tossed him a big fat meatball -- the kind of slow, savory pitch that any bush leaguer could knock out of the ballpark.

"I haven't heard much from public officials about the decision by Pizza Patron restaurants to accept pesos," I said, telegraphing my intentions. "As one who has spoken loudly about your concerns over the incursions of Mexican language, politics, culture and more into the American mainstream, I'm wondering how you feel about their money also making inroads."

This was a batting practice fastball, waist high, right down the middle.

Pearce is the Bambino of migrant bashers, the Sultan of a SWAT team approach to border crossers, a political power hitter who bulks up on the emotional steroid of indignation. He saw the pitch coming, reared back and ... bunted.

Really. Pearce sent an e-mail response to my question that reads: "Certainly a sign of the times and the mass invasion and the failure to assimilate.
However, it is a private business and they have that right. It is disappointing."


That's it? That's all we get from the Barry Bonds of bluster? A man who once told me that America could reinstitute a 1950s program of mass deportation of undocumented immigrants "if you have the will."

A man who has characterized those who've opposed some of Arizona's more draconian anti-migrant propositions as "sissies."

A man who pointedly told me that when it comes to the things he has said about illegal immigration, "I make no apologies."

To him an U.S. company accepting Mexican pesos on American soil is only "disappointing"?

Then again, look around and listen.

Have you seen or heard any high-profile politicians making a big stink over the pizza company's peso plan?

Have you seen or heard any low-profile politicians doing so?

Reports out of Texas say that the company has received some hate mail and threats. One e-mail read: "This is the United States of America, not the United States of Mexico," and got more profane after that.

According to Margaret LeVecke, marketing director for Pizza Patron, there has been some negative reaction in Arizona as well.

Then she added, "But it's been mostly positive. We've had some negative calls, but really it's been mostly good. We know that it's sparking a lot of interest because of the immigration issue. But we did it as business decision, believing that it is great for our guests. On television last night even Sheriff (Joe) Arpaio said that it's a free-enterprise system. And he's right. It is."

I saw the same report.

LeVecke said that the company would decide after two months if it would extend the peso program, proving perhaps that, in the end, commerce trumps condemnation.

I also called Gov. Janet Napolitano's office to find out what she thought of the peso policy and her spokeswoman, Jeanine L'Ecuyer, said that the governor would have no comment.

Given this rather passive reaction to the Pizza Patron policy, perhaps we should prepare for even more blending of cultures and currencies. I've consulted an English-Spanish dictionary as a way of helping me better prepare for the next time I use an extended baseball metaphor. In the future when I groove a pitch over the plate for a power-hitting politician, I'll call it an albondiga.


Reach Montini at (602) 444-8978 or ed.montini@arizonarepublic.com.
Edition: Final Chaser
Section: VALLEY & State
Page: B10