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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Cobb commission appears to be ready to turn down the IMAGE immigration verification p

    Cobb commission appears to be ready to turn down the IMAGE immigration verification program

    February 26, 2013 12:52 AM

    The sides have lined up in advance of tonight’s Board of Commissioners vote on allowing federal agents to review the hiring records of county contractors to ensure employees are legally able to work in the U.S.

    Leading the charge to adopt the federal immigration program are Commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Bob Ott, who have the support of the Georgia Tea Party, Sheriff Neil Warren, District Attorney Vic Reynolds and immigration activist D.A. King of the Dustin Inman Society, among others.

    Critics of the proposal include county chairman Tim Lee, Commissioners Helen Goreham and Lisa Cupid; Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials; and Rich Pellegrino of the Cobb Immigrant Alliance, among others.

    Lee said while he is open to hearing from residents what they think at tonight’s hearing, he is leaning toward voting against the proposal.

    “As it’s currently written it’s unclear. It is also burdensome to business as a process with no clear, quantifiable benefit from any perspective, and under those terms I think it makes bad policy,” Lee said.

    Lee told Georgia Tea Party Chairman J.D. Van Brink last month that he would try to find a better alternative than requiring contractors who bid on county projects to enroll in the federal immigration program, called the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE).

    “I’ve been struggling for a long time to find a better way, and I am unable to find one,” Lee said.

    Lee explained why he supported the county enrolling in the IMAGE program last year, but opposes extending that requirement to county contractors this year.

    “As I dug deeper into the program and the circumstances surrounding it, I felt that it raised a concern on my part as to whether or not it was right for local government to require a voluntary federal program onto businesses,” Lee said. “That was my first concern. So I reevaluated it and came to the conclusion that it may not be the best solution. We need to meet the objective of making certain that our tax dollars are not being utilized for illegal aliens.”

    Ott said the intent of the ordinance is to ensure that the companies or contractors receiving payment from the county in the form of tax dollars have employees who are legally allowed to work in the U.S.

    “I think that’s the No. 1 priority of the whole ordinance,” Ott said.

    As for the worry that it’s too burdensome for a business to enroll in, Ott pointed out that there are already Marietta businesses enrolled that have said it’s no trouble.

    Goreham has complained that it’s taken the county government 450 hours to complete the certification process, but such work is voluntary, Ott said.

    “The 450 hours, the internal audit, that’s all voluntary,” Ott said. “If a company thinks that their I-9s are all up to speed, then they can just have the ICE guys come in and do the inspection, so I just don’t see it burdensome at all, and I think really it comes down to it’s just one more tool to basically enforce the law.”

    Another important part of the proposed ordinance is that it addresses independent contractors who are not required to use the E-verify system, Ott said.

    “Those are the folks that are paid with 1099 forms,” he said, referring to the form filed by independent contractors.

    The Ott-Birrell proposal would require independent contractors to present identification such as a driver’s license before being hired for work, he said.

    The Marietta Daily Journal - Cobb commission appears to be ready to turn down the IMAGE immigration verification program
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie
    Cobb Commission approves backyard chickens but says no to immigration program
    by Jon Gillooly
    February 27, 2013

    A proposal to allow federal agents to review the hiring records of county contractors to ensure employees are legally able to work in the U.S. was voted down by the Cobb Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

    In addition, commissioners approved a code change that would allow property owners who want to have hens on fewer than two acres to apply for a variance with the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals.

    The meeting began with more than 30 speakers addressing commissioners on the topics of chickens and the legal employment proposal.

    Public support for IMAGE

    Nearly all of those who spoke on the legal employment proposal urged the board to pass it.

    Norm DeWalt of north Cobb asked the board to approve the proposal to require county contractors to enroll in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers.

    “To vote against IMAGE is nothing more than supporting economic terrorism,” DeWalt said. “These people are illegal aliens. They’re coming here, and they’re taking Americans’ jobs, so I appreciate you supporting it.”

    Susan Stanton of Kennesaw also urged the board to pass the proposal, offered by commissioners Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell.

    “As you can see, we again are hiring illegal aliens to build our buildings,” Stanton said. “They shouldn’t be here. It’s time we put our foot down, protect our people, our workers and restore our integrity.”

    Patricia Hay of Mableton said she supports IMAGE because she wants her children to have employment.

    “I want legal residents of the United States to be employed, and if you don’t support IMAGE, if you vote against it, then obviously you’re voting to have illegal aliens have jobs over U.S. citizens and legal residents and I want my children to be employed,” Hay said.

    In a reference to Lee, Maxine Saless of east Cobb said, “I am very disappointed in people who run on one political platform and then change their mind.”

    Commissioners discuss alternatives

    Commissioner Lisa Cupid suggested there were alternatives to accomplishing the goal of eliminating illegal workers from receiving county funds. She suggested random audits take place for the companies with which the county contracts. And if a company was found to have employed illegal workers, she suggested they be fined. She also supported bringing in ICE to conduct training.

    Lee revealed that WellStar Health System had informed him it would not enroll in the IMAGE program if the county approved it.

    “Right now the sheriff has services being provided to him by an entity for medical care for the inmates in the jail, and it’s being provided at a reduced cost by WellStar Health System,” Lee said. “WellStar Health System told me they will not go through the process of applying for IMAGE for over 12,000 employees for the volunteer program, which means they immediately become ineligible for the contract under the way this was written. Which means, of course, that we now have to go to the next best provider at whatever cost that is which no doubt will be higher, assuming we can find someone who is willing to provide health care to our inmates and apply to IMAGE.”

    Lee called the proposal bad policy. He said he agreed with some of Cupid’s suggestions and called for exploring them in the near future.

    “If we really want to make it with teeth, we tell our vendors that if you are caught with an illegal immigrant you will never work with Cobb County again,” Lee said.

    Commissioners Helen Goreham, Cupid and Lee voted against the proposal, while Ott and Birrell voted for it.

    After the meeting, Michael Opitz of east Cobb expressed his disappointment with Lee, Goreham and Cupid.

    “We have a major illegal immigration problem in Georgia,” Opitz said. “It’s larger than Arizona, and we continue having people vote against the best interest of Georgia, our nation, our county, and I have to question their motives.”

    The fact is there are entities in the state and county who did not want to see the proposal pass, Opitz said.

    “They mentioned WellStar, they mentioned several companies, so you can only imagine that companies brought pressure to them and then you have to ask why because good government and good governance is not hiring people who are not supposed to be in your country illegally and hurt the employment prospects of American citizens,” Opitz said. “We have a problem, and these people are on the wrong side of the issue.”

    Support for hen proposal

    Just about all of the speakers at the meeting said they favored allowing hens on fewer than two acres.

    Bob Harber of Smyrna said the board should leave chickens alone.

    “Personally I think you’re wasting your time trying to regulate chickens,” Harber said. “No. 1, they are not a traffic hazard. Where you could spend your time on is asking Cobb’s finest to enforce these illegals jaywalking on all major highways. That is the traffic hazard, and if you have a fatality that takes your police department four or five hours to investigate that. I think you should spend more time on that than worrying about chickens.”

    The commission voted 3-2 for the code change with Lee and Birrell opposed.

    Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Cobb Commission approves backyard chickens but says no to immigration program

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie
    Worked up: Goreham, King square off over illegal workers during town hall
    by Jon GilloolyThe Marietta Daily Journal
    March 15, 2013

    Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham and activist D.A. King, president of The Dustin Inman Society, debate their differences on illegal immigrants in the work force Thursday night during Goreham’s town hall meeting in Acworth.
    Staff/Emily Barnes


    Commissioner Helen Goreham and immigration activist D.A. King of the Dustin Inman Society clashed during a town hall meeting Thursday evening over the topic of tax dollars going to illegal immigrants.

    During the question-and-answer portion of the event hosted by the commissioner, King seized on a comment made by Goreham about the importance of being judicious when hiring project managers and construction workers. King said Goreham had voted against a program that would have allowed federal agents to review the hiring records of county contractors to ensure employees are legally able to work in the U.S.

    The program is called the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, or IMAGE.

    Goreham said she would not debate King on the IMAGE subject. The proposal was turned down by the county commission last month.

    One reason it was killed, Goreham said, was because it was terrible legislation that forced any company doing business with the county government to apply for IMAGE certification.

    King said at least Goreham was now admitting the truth of how the proposal worked, given that at a previous town hall meeting and in form letters to constituents, she mischaracterized the proposal by claiming it would apply to all businesses in Cobb, which was inaccurate.

    “Sir, I slipped up a couple of times, and I do not get the kind of treatment you get in our local newspaper, so therefore I don’t even get credit for appropriate statements, so therefore I will not even debate this issue,” Goreham snapped.

    Goreham said King had his chance to speak before the Board of Commissioners.

    “You have used your blogs to skewer me all over based on allegations, and no one asks for proof for you for your allegations that you share with the community. It’s over. It is done,” she said.

    “Oh, it’s not over,” King said.

    Proposal for a committee

    The town hall meeting, held at the North Cobb Senior Center, drew about 60 residents and 25 members of the county’s staff.

    One person at the meeting asked Goreham about her proposal to form a committee to study best practices for ensuring tax money does not go to illegal immigrants.

    Goreham said she would like to form such a committee, called the Contractor Eligibility Assurance Study. The committee would have 10 members, with each commissioner appointing two people. She said she hoped it could have recommendations for the Board of Commissioners by the end of the year.

    “The study will encompass the full spectrum of the county’s current contracting practices to identify potential loopholes that might allow ineligible workers to be employed on county work without detection,” Goreham said. “It is Cobb County’s intent to impose disciplines necessary for zero tolerance in this regard.”

    This prompted a loud laugh from King, causing Goreham to say, “Please sir, a little respect.”

    Answered King: “That would be very little, yes.”

    Goreham told King that in that case he could leave.

    “Thank you. I appreciate your leave,” King answered.

    Goreham went on to say that the study will include inspections of activities of county contractors and their subcontractors, regardless of tier, including day laborers who are paid in cash. The proposal must first be approved by the full Board of Commissioners, she said.

    “We will not have people who will be non-objective — that’s for certain — because there was too much of that going on in the preliminary work,” she said.

    Communication dispute

    King addressed the crowd by speaking of his friends, Billy and Kathy Inman of Woodstock, the parents of Dustin Inman, a 16-year-old boy killed in a traffic accident in 2000 by illegal immigrant Gonzalo Harrell-Gonzalez.

    “The way Billy Inman tells it to me, and I know him to be a very honest man, when he called your office to leave a message urging you to vote yes on the ordinance, he was told by your secretary that ‘other people had lost children. He should get over it and stop dragging it around,’” King said. “My question is, madame, do you have any plans on investigating that?”

    Goreham said she had asked her assistant about the incident and was told that’s not what took place. And besides, King was giving secondhand information, she said.

    Yet King said the message came directly from Inman.

    “Well, you know, I don’t know Billy Inman. I know that you have dragged him and his wife to our meetings,” Goreham said.

    Responded King: “Billy dragged his own wife in a wheelchair.”

    The MDJ asked Goreham’s assistant, Annette Friant, to verify what exactly happened.

    “I have nothing to say to you,” Friant angrily snapped.

    Criticism of ‘delay tactic’

    After the meeting, Sue Stanton of north Cobb, one of the attendees at the town hall, called Goreham’s committee “worse than a delay tactic.”

    “I feel that they really don’t want to go there, and as far as coming up with this committee, I think a better thing would be to have a group of citizens to go to work sites and yell, ‘green card check’ and see how many people scatter,” Stanton said.

    Stanton said she believes Goreham will be defeated in next year’s election.

    “Her support of the TSPLOST, her support for the SPLOST, the fact that she was against IMAGE, the tax increase and the green space, the waste of money on that green space that’s nothing but an eyesore, I think is going to come back to haunt her,” Stanton said.

    Another attendee, Michael Opitz of east Cobb, president of the Madison Forum, was equally unimpressed by the proposed committee.

    “So many times politicians create committees to delay the obvious,” Opitz said. “We know we have a problem. I don’t think we need another committee to study what the problem is. The problem has been identified. We know what the solution is. It’s just having the political will to do it, and the reason that we’re in this situation that we are with so many illegal immigrants in Georgia, more than Arizona, is that our politicians have lacked the political will to take decisive action to protect our community as well as protect our jobs.”

    Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews said his city has no plans to form such a committee.

    “The county, as well as the city, requires all subcontractors to fill out the E-verify, confirm that they’re on it,” Mathews said. “It’s state law. I mean everybody is in compliance with that. I don’t understand really what the issue is because we do that, Cobb County does that. What’s the issue?”

    The Marietta Daily Journal - Worked up Goreham King square off over illegal workers during town hall

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