CHICAGO
06/02/2010 12:12 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Cook County Boycotts Arizona, Then Hires Arizona Firm

Cook County, Chicago's home and the second-most populous county in the United States, took a bold stand on Tuesday. By a 10-6 vote, the county commissioners passed a resolution boycotting Arizona businesses in response to that state's new immigration law.

"We're making a statement - equal justice and equal protection under the law for all human beings, notwithstanding their race or their ethnicity," said South Side commissioner Earleen Collins.

But the statement didn't seem so courageous later that day, when the commission awarded a lucrative red-light-camera contract to an Arizona firm.

The Sun-Times reports that the boycott's language called for the county to avoid Arizona businesses "to the extent practicable." This toothless language allowed for the camera contract to be awarded to American Traffic Solutions, based in Scottsdale.

In fact, the boycott won't change much, the Sun-Times reports: "The 79 Arizona-based vendors that currently work for Cook County will continue doing so," commissioners reportedly decided.

Those who opposed the ban made a familiar argument:

Peter Silvestri, a Republican whose district sits in the Northwest suburbs around O'Hare Airport, says the measure targets Arizona residents rather than policymakers.

"We're punishing people's businesses in Arizona who may oppose this particular law. We're punishing people who are residents of the state of Arizona, but not necessarily policymakers," Silvestri said.

The boycott and the contract both await the signature of embattled County Board President Todd Stroger.