Captives of the Cold War Economy: The Struggle for Defense Conversion in American Communities

By John J. Accordino | Go to book overview

7
Conversion Advocacy in
Other States and Localities

In Virginia, the response to defense-spending cutbacks came primarily from businesses, business organizations (particularly chambers of commerce and high-technology interests), and elected and appointed officials. Labor unions played negligible roles and, with the exception of Charlottesville, peace-advocacy groups played no role whatsoever. In other states with defense-dependent communities, however, peace-advocacy groups played more active roles in stimulating community- and state-wide defense-conversion and -adjustment activities. These roles included those of public-policy advocate, organizer and facilitator of community-wide planning and adjustment programs, and, in some cases, service provider. In a couple of regions, organized labor also joined conversionadvocacy efforts.

As discussed in chapter 2, grass-roots organizations can sometimes influence the direction of state and local economic-development policy, particularly in times of economic crisis or uncertainty. This chapter explores the nature, extent, and limits of such influence by peace- and conversion-advocacy groups in San Diego, Tucson, St. Louis, Maine, Connecticut, and Washington State. It describes the factors that enhanced their influence and those that undermined it. As the discussion shows, these groups significantly influenced public- and private-sector responses in their communities, but their ability to do so was limited by the same forces that limited conversion in Virginia. Moreover, as in Virginia and, indeed, the U.S. Congress, some states and localities experienced a backlash against defense cutbacks after the BRAC'93 process, which resulted in the election of pro-military, or at least anticonversion, officials in November 1993.


SAN DIEGO

Like Hampton Roads, San Diego is a military metropolis. Described by some as "the largest military complex in the free world," 1 "San Diego was home to U.S.

-147-

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