On the Road with Citydesk 

Whose got the worse immigration laws?

Citydesk found itself on a family visit to Phoenix this past week, reading the New Times and picking up on a familiar name: Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce [link should be labeled "opinion"]. He's the man behind Arizona's annual claim to the title of "State with the Harshest Immigration Laws in the Nation." This year it is Pearce's measure that allows police officers to arrest undocumented immigrants on trespassing charges, among several other xenophobic and bigoted new police powers.

Phoenix New Times blogger Stephen Lemons calls Pearce "bigot boy" on his blog, Feathered Bastard, posting pictures of him with neo-Nazis.

Russell Pearce is also a cousin of Idaho Sen. Monty Pearce, who often cites his cousin's experience in Arizona when trying to take the "harshest immigration law" title for Idaho.

Well, if the Pearce family could just shift its thinking a tad, they'd find a much more interesting, productive and humane rivalry in tacos. That's right, Arizona has got nothing on Idaho when it comes to tacos. We went to the New Times' official Best of Phoenix taco joint and found the place somewhat lacking, compared to Boise's Best of Tacos, which last year were found at the Chilango's truck, which--ironically or not--parks outside the Idaho State Capitol.

Perhaps our superior tacos are indeed playing a role in staving off the more draconian anti-Latino legislation that Russell Pearce sends out to his family e-mail list each Christmas.

But back in Boise, we didn't miss much action. Primary election campaigns continue to pick up steam with candidates slowly checking in with BW's Electionland site (electionland.boiseweekly.com), where readers can pose questions to candidates and vote on their answers. For example, you could ask the three Republicans running for lieutenant governor if they are Sarah Palin Republicans or not and then follow up with something like, "What the hell does a Sarah Palin Republican really stand for?"

And BW business editor Zach Hagadone reported that Idaho c-store owners are demanding credit card processing fee reform:

Charley Jones, co-owner of the state's chain of Stinker Stores, and Pat Lewis, owner of Oasis Stop 'N Go in Twin Falls, gathered with John Eichberger of the National Association of Convenience Stores to present U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo's office with a petition signed by more than 24,000 Idahoans urging reform of the nation's interchange fee system--commonly referred to as "swipe fees."

Jones and Lewis contend that the fees, which are a fixed fee plus a percentage of the purchase price appended to every credit or debit card sale, are in a seemingly endless upswing and severely cutting revenues.

"Much to our chagrin, we're paying more in swipe fees than we are making in profit," Lewis said. "It's a wild animal that's broken loose," Jones added, keeping up the metaphor.

"It's not often as an Idaho businessman that I look to the federal government," he said. But when faced with a "gorilla" like the card companies, he added, there's no choice but to go to "the bigger guy"--Congress--for help.

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