Controversy swirls around Cobb Chaiman's closed meeting on immigration
by Jon Gillooly
January 30, 2013 12:43 AM | 4111 views | 16 16 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chairman Tim Lee said Monday that the EDGE program is ‘vitally important to the long-term success of our great county.’<br>Staff/Samantha M. Shal
Chairman Tim Lee said Monday that the EDGE program is ‘vitally important to the long-term success of our great county.’
Staff/Samantha M. Shal
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Bob Ott
Bob Ott
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MARIETTA — Commissioner Bob Ott is calling on Chairman Tim Lee to open to the public a closed meeting the chairman is scheduled to have with a federal immigration official.

Lee and Commissioner Helen Goreham, along with county attorneys, will meet with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Rick Beamish and ICE attorney James McHenry at 11 a.m. Wednesday to review a proposal that would help crack down on the hiring of illegal immigrants.

The proposal would require contractors doing business with the county to apply for certification under the federal IMAGE program. The program’s purpose is to certify that the contractor employs only U.S. citizens.

County spokesman Robert Quigley said the meeting is closed to the public. The Board of Commissioners is not required to hold public meetings unless three or more commissioners are in attendance.

Ott said Lee should open the meeting to the other commissioners on the board and the public.

“I see no reason why the meeting can’t be open since it’s such a volatile issue by a lot of people with a lot of different opinions,” Ott said. “To me it would be a benefit to everybody in the community to know what ICE thinks about it, and I think it would be beneficial to all the commissioners to hear what the gentleman has to say.”

Commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Ott, who back the code change, need a third commissioner’s support for it to be approved. Lee has expressed reservations about the proposal, while Commissioners Lisa Cupid and Goreham say they haven’t made up their minds on the topic.

Immigration activist D.A. King of the Dustin Inman Society, who has helped the county author the code change, said he is dismayed by the closed meeting.

“This is clearly a fishing expedition to find anything that can be perceived as a negative outcome of becoming IMAGE certified to use in (Lee’s) program to hold up the county ordinance for contractors,” King said. “I think it’s clear that Tim and Helen are up to no good.”

If their intentions were simply to learn about the proposal, why do it in secret, King asked.

“I’m not surprised, but I am extremely disappointed that the level of openness in our government seems to be rapidly declining,” he said. “I agree with Commissioner Ott that this should be an open meeting, and personally I can’t understand why as a person who wrote the ordinance that I’m not being allowed to attend.”

Yet Goreham, who said she was invited by Lee to attend the meeting, said she didn’t realize it was going to be closed to the public.

“I’m thinking there’s got to be a reason for why it’s closed. That is a question for the chairman,” Goreham said.

Goreham said she is attending to learn more about the IMAGE program.

“My position on IMAGE is that I support it,” Goreham said. “I support American jobs for American citizens. What I’m still looking at is the exact wording for our ordinance. The details. The devil is in the details right now. And I’m not satisfied with the details. I’m a supporter of IMAGE, but right now I’m still up in the air as far as Cobb County’s ordinance and the details of the implementation of that ordinance. There are a lot of details in the implementation side that have not been addressed or even discussed.”

As for Ott wanting the meeting to be open, Goreham said, “If that’s his desire, then he needs to work to that end. If he wants it as an open meeting then he needs to take that up with the chairman and work to that end.”

In an email to the MDJ Tuesday evening, Lee wrote, “county legal staff and I are performing due diligence in looking at the proposed code changes. Part of that process is getting our lawyers and those that run the program for ICE at the same table for a discussion, and I make no apologies for that.”

IMAGE, or ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, is a voluntary partnership initiative between the federal government and private-sector employers. ICE developed the initiative as a way for employers to achieve a “lawful work force” through self-policing of their hiring practices.
Comments
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Lib in Cobb
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February 01, 2013
DA King is not an "immigration activist". He is an anti immigration activist.
ugagrad
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January 31, 2013
Thank goodness for Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell speaking out about this. Goreham is nothing but an empty seat, and vindictive in nature. She adds nothing positive to the board except her following Lee's lead, (kinda reminds me of the CCSD with Banks and Morgan's enabling of eachother. LOL
VFP42
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January 30, 2013
What happened to the "D.A. King Exposes Himself As A Conspiracy Nutcase"-ish headline that was here earlier? I liked that one a lot better. Did the crusty old guys show up at work and shut that down? Glimmers of hope slip out of the MDJ occasionally.
Just Sayin'....
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January 30, 2013
First of all....in light of recent developments in Washington, this meeting is going to be a mute point. Like it or not, the feds, with the help of Congress, will see to it that we no longer have "illegals" because everyone will now be legal. Federal law trumps state and local law, so let's finally move on from this debate.

Secondly, the huge issue here is Tim Lee running the county like a monarchy, of which he is the monarch. Closed door meetings speak to impropriety in the minds of many, and while he was clever enough NOT to include another commisssioner, lest he have three, it speaks volumes to his willingness to push the limits on rules. I would remind him that his victory in November was NOT exactly a landslide or mandate, and that he stands a good chance of alienating some people who may actually have supported him.

Thirdly, Ms. Goreham needs to wake up and see that she is being used as a pawn. First question I would have asked is WHO ELSE is going to be there. Either she didn't think enough to ask, or she did ask and is conveniently forgetting now. Either way, this is bad form Helen.
ILLEGAL is ILLEGAL
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January 30, 2013
In the end the government should be holding contractors who hire illegals responsible. If there weren't people hiring illegals, then we would see less illegals here. They only come here because they know they will get jobs and that our government won't do anything about it...in fact our government gives them more chances than its own citizens. It disgusts me that we will readily charge our own citizens for crimes but give law breakers like Jessica Colotl chance after chance. A friend of mine had a kid at the school they teach at vandalize their car and they wanted to press charges. They were asked not to because the kid was illegal. I doubt anyone would've had a problem with my friend pressing charges on a citizen. We need to use IMAGE and get OUR country back!
Marie in Marietta
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January 30, 2013
I predict that DA will win in the end - just like in the old movies where Americans were Americans and corrupt politicians were usually sent packing. Helen. Packing....
Lib in Cobb
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February 01, 2013
@Marie: I predict you will always be learning disabled.
West Cobbian
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January 30, 2013
Lee has again demonstrated that he is dumber than dirt! Too bad we didn't let him loose to take the Chamber of Commerce job. Can we recall him to start to restore representative county government?
Just Wait
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January 30, 2013
Jees Bobby, pouting cause you didn't get invited?
SG68
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January 30, 2013
Seems to me that Commissioner Ott is simply stating that the meeting on an issue like this should be open to the public.

This is the type of backroom politics that does damage to Cobb County.

Lee has proven once again that he is a buffoon and a shill for the Chamber leadership.
Bill Millette
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January 30, 2013
The planned closed door meeting is Progressive politics at its worst . Chairman Lee is either an Obama wannabe or in the pocket of the low wage pro-illegal immigration group.

Helen Goreham's words in this article are pure blather. The devil is in your intentions Helen, not in the details. It is a stall tactic. I am sure in a closed door meeting and ICE official will provide you with the information you seek to NOT pass and enforce IMAGE.

Using Obama administration tactics to manage Cobb County will not pass muster.There are too many conservative voters watching this issue.
Common Sense
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January 30, 2013
Helen Goreham does not have the common sense to vet the people she appoints to various boards. She appointed a Tennesee resident claiming to live in Georgia to a Cobb county board. This person claimed Tennesee residency to avoid paying taxes in Georgia but this person thinks they should have a say in how the Cobb County Airport should be run.
Devlin Adams
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January 30, 2013
Apparently we have several people, all on the PUBLIC payroll, having a meeting that is not open to the PUBLIC. Sounds like avery unhealthy situation. Sounds like skullduggery is afoot.
Watcher...
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January 30, 2013
This meeting must be VERY open. I would like to see, at a minimum, other interested Commissioners, the Sheriff and other interested parties in attendance.

Move the meeting to the BOC Board Room if necessary.
wstcob
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January 30, 2013
Goreham, who said she was invited by Lee to attend the meeting, said she didn’t realize it was going to be closed to the public.



COME ON HELEN, TAG ALONG TO GET ALONG.

As for Ott wanting the meeting to be open, Goreham said, “If that’s his desire, then he needs to work to that end. If he wants it as an open meeting then he needs to take that up with the chairman and work to that end.”

GOOD SIGNAL CALLING HELEN, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

Pat H
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January 30, 2013
Americans shut out of construction industry - see article about Americans who responded to construction jobs that didn't exist. Perhaps they can add Cobb County to their list of defendants since their preferred contractors use illegal aliens instead.
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