Commissioners remain split over IMAGE immigration certification program
by Jon Gillooly
February 01, 2013 12:28 AM | 3439 views | 18 18 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee
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Commissioner Goreham: She wants IMAGE certification rewarded by points program
Commissioner Goreham: She wants IMAGE certification rewarded by points program
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Commissioner Cupid: Newcomer calls Goreham plan a ‘reasonable alternative’
Commissioner Cupid: Newcomer calls Goreham plan a ‘reasonable alternative’
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Bob Ott
Bob Ott
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Commissioner JoAnn Birrell (MDJ/File)
Commissioner JoAnn Birrell (MDJ/File)
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MARIETTA — Commissioner Helen Goreham’s counterproposal for stopping illegal immigrants from working on county contracts has generated praise from Chairman Tim Lee and Commissioner Lisa Cupid. But Commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Bob Ott remain unconvinced.

Birrell and Ott originally proposed an ordinance that would require all contractors doing business with the county to apply for certification under the federal IMAGE program, which helps ensure that employers hire people who are legally able to work in the United States.

IMAGE stands for ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers.

Lee has expressed reservations over the IMAGE program, and on Wednesday Goreham suggested a “carrot” rather than a “stick” approach. Instead of requiring contractors to apply for certification, Goreham suggested creating an incentive program that awards points to companies that bid on county projects if they have applied for such certification.

Lee said he thought it was a sound idea and worth looking at deeper in the next couple of weeks. “I like the approach of having it incentivized as opposed to punitive,” he said.

Cupid also liked Goreham’s suggestion.

“I thought that was a reasonable alternative,” Cupid said. “It certainly conveys that the county is concerned about making sure we have people who are legal citizens working on our projects without unduly limiting people who want to do business with the county but may have operational challenges in implementing IMAGE.”

If Cupid and Lee end up voting for Goreham’s proposal, that’s all the votes she needs for it to pass.

Birrell said she spoke with Goreham about her idea on Thursday and has a number of questions she’s waiting on the county attorney to answer.

“I’m just not sure that an incentive program or points system would work for something like this,” Birrell said. “I mean, hiring illegals on job sites is against the law, so we’re not creating anything new. We’re just trying to enforce what’s already there.”

Birrell said she is concerned that if all the obstacles Goreham listed about the Birrell-Ott proposal are accurate, why would any contractor go to the trouble of signing up for IMAGE certification on a voluntary basis.

“My whole reason and issue with being a cosponsor of IMAGE is to make sure that we have companies doing business with Cobb that are compliant with the law,” Birrell said. “We’ve done it as a county. We’ve signed up to be IMAGE-certified, and now we’re asking or requiring the businesses that have contracts with Cobb to do the same. It’s against the law. It’s a federal law. And if it’s up to us to enforce it, then we need to do our part.”

One of the concerns Goreham raised with the Ott-Birrell proposal was how long it takes to become IMAGE certified. But if that’s a problem, Birrell said she’s happy to extend the timeframe for certification to a reasonable period of time.

Ott said he planned to sit down with Goreham and discuss her proposal as soon as possible. But from reading what she said Wednesday, Ott said he agrees with Birrell.

“All we’re asking is that we get the people that get county money, the public’s money, who do work for the county to have legal employees, i.e., follow the law,” Ott said. “I don’t think anybody is asking any less than they simply demonstrate that they’re following the law.”

As for Goreham’s suggestion of having a points system, Ott echoed what Birrell said about why any contractor would bother seeking IMAGE certification if they didn’t have to do so.

“This is about ensuring that the jobs that are available for people to have, the people that have them are legal to be here, and being IMAGE certified or applying to be IMAGE certified is simply saying that we want the companies that give public money, people’s money, to be following the law,” Ott said. “And I think anything short of that is still rewarding companies for not following the law.”

Ott said Goreham’s concern about needing to use a company in an emergency who hadn’t applied for IMAGE certification was easily handled by revising the ordinance.

“Her plan does absolutely nothing because it doesn’t change it from the current system because nobody else has to apply,” Ott said. “If there’s all the negatives that she’s implying about IMAGE, why would any of them apply to it then when they know that they could still apply to a contract, and they would know that they could still apply for a contract, and they just wouldn’t get any points like anybody else. That, to me, I don’t see what the incentive is. There’s no carrot there.”

Whatever happens, Lee said he wants the matter decided by Feb. 26.

“I am definitely going to push for us to deal with the issue once and for all, whether that means Ott’s proposal or Helen’s proposal or none at all,” Lee said. “I am going to push to bring it to closure at that meeting on Feb. 26. We need to deal with it and move on to the next issue.”

Comments
(18)
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ProJou
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February 02, 2013
I'm sure the majority here who froth on about background checks to make sure some poor but hardworking people can't get jobs - ones that many Americans are too lazy to try anyway - also vehemently oppose background checks on people buying weapons of mass destruction, AKA assault rifles. Gotta love the priories
TIC
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February 02, 2013
Amazing!

Just follow and enforce the laws on the books.

Lee and Goreham are shills for the Chamber. That's their motivation to try to find a way to skirt the existing laws.

Ms. Cupid has a more obvious reason for her support. Many of her constituents are without official papers and can't pass muster under the existing law.

The laws are on the books for a reason and trying to water them down or find ways around enforcing them as written is short sighted and lazy.

If the law is unfair or unreasonable, change it.

@happy here
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February 01, 2013
"Does anyone really believe that the rules of a county in Georgia will put enough pressure on a national or international company to get this certification?"

As to affecting an international company-- Let's see, we want to update Cobb's school district for Info Technology, perhaps an $8 miilion dollar project.

IBM,. "No it's not worth filling out the paper work."

We are updating our school bus fleet. Estimate $4 million.

Ford, "nah it ain't worth $4million. We have no one who is willing to spend 90 minutes filling out that form for such a small contract".

Yeah, right.

Yeah, right!
Lib in Cobb
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February 01, 2013
I am disappointed that DA King, Captain of the Local Nut Squad was not quoted.
Bo Duke
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February 01, 2013
You would have to look very hard to find anyone better than Tim the man Lee!!!!!!!
McCarthy 2013
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February 01, 2013
Where do I sign the loyalty oath in order to do business with the County?
All of this...
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February 01, 2013
Will be a moot point as comprehensive immigration reform will be likely coming down the pike here soon.

All of these "illegals" you are so afraid of will have an opportunity to become citizens and IMAGE will no longer be an issue.

And for those who say it won't pass in the house - look at what is happening - Republicans are coming out of the wood work saying the need to change their policy towards latios.

The uber conservative wing of the republican party is about to be clipped. As they say in Spanish, ADIOS!

HappyHere
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February 01, 2013
We might all agree that it is reasonable to assume that IBM, OFfice Depot, Ford and GM have the resources to apply for IMAGE certification but according to the ice.gov website they have not, nor have most of the county's major vendors. Does anyone really beleve that the rules of a county in Georgia will put enough pressure on a national or international company to get this certification?
@voice of reason
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February 01, 2013
You are obviously, a good American and want rule of law. Yet your examples are , a bit extreme.

Do you want all jobs in Ford and GM to be taken by illegal immigrants??

PS Both companies have the HR staff to easily handle this request.

Finally, if anyone should be able to handle this IMAGE effort easily, it should be IBM, a major Information Technology company or any company with similar skills.

I guess, we are on different planes on what iti is worth to protect America.
Bill Millette
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February 01, 2013
Kudos to Commissioners Birrell and Ott who remember who they are and what their duties are to our county, our country and their fellow citizens.

I cannot say the same for my own commissioner.

If I were to use Helen Goreham's concept, I would be giving Commissioner Ott and Birrell "points" just for living up to their oath of office.

I believe the electorate of Cobb County to be intelligent people who recognize an empty political gesture for what it is-empty, a stall.
Be Careful
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February 01, 2013
OMG!!! Why is this so difficult???!!!

If a company wants a county contract, they have to make sure their employees are LEGAL.

I cannot imagine anyone being aginst this, unless they are, or represent, or are making money off ILLEGAL people.

Any contractor that says "no, I don't want to do this", is openly admitting they have illegal employees.
Voice of reason
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February 01, 2013
I am a conservative Republican who believes that illegal immigrants are criminals. However, there are some real problems with requiring IMAGE certification for all county contractors/vendors:

1) Are you going to require Ford and GM to be certified? If so, could our police force potentially be forced into driving Kia's or Suzuki's.

2) Are you going to require Office Depot to be certified? If so, what about the manufacturer of the pens, pencils, paper, etc... that are sold by Office Depot. Can their suppliers hire illegals?

3) Are you going to require IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Dell, etc... to become image certified. If so, our entire county data infrastructure that is built around these computing platforms could come crashing down. FYI - there are no mom and pop vendors who can successfully support these systems.

4) You get the point...I could list dozens of additional examples here.

Bottom line, if Cobb requires all of our MAJOR contractors/vendors to be IMAGE certified, our best case scenario will be that we potentially lose our competitive edge of being able to comparison shop large efficient contractors/vendors costing the taxpayer exponentially more to run the county.

Our worst case scenario will be that the county will be forced into buying substandard products and contracting with incompetent vendors thereby costing both taxpayer dollars causing TREMENDOUS problems within the county.

Do you want the deed to your house stored on a database managed by a kid who formed a 3 person company out of high school, became IMAGE certified, and was the sole bidder on a county request for proposal due to the IMAGE certification requirement. I certainly don't.

We all need to think about what requiring IMAGE certification would REALLY mean. On the surface I agree that it's a great idea. But when you really think about what it will mean, maybe not. Let's be smart about this, not Political.
Yet again
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February 01, 2013
What could possibly be wrong with requiring that everyone doing business with the county AND all their workers are legally eligible to do that! Interesting to note that they are apparently more afraid of offending the illegal aliens than they are of ensuring that legal citizens are not put out of a job due to illegals. On the way to another debacle like the court house construction. Get some common sense & some respect for legal Americans.
Pat H
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February 01, 2013
Ms. Cupid, the demographics of your district represent those hardest hit financially by treasonous employers who knowingly hire illegals and pay them in cash.

Contractors who receive public funds are required by Federal and State laws to hire legal residents. IMAGE just requires all employees be checked through E-Verify, not just new employees.

It is not much to expect from contractors by the taxpayers. Apparently three elected commissioners cannot expect contractors to comply with our laws.

You volunteered for your positions, do the right thing.
lazy americans
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February 01, 2013
You have apparently not been out to Ms. Cupids district.

Her district is home to the 1,000's of illegals that need work.

She is simply looking out for her low wage district.

Viva la road work!
HappyHere
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February 01, 2013
It's ridiculous for Ott and Birrell to think that no one will apply for image with Goreham's incentive plan. All it would take is for one to apply and get all the contracts for the rest to do it. They would have to get on a level playing field for the rest of the criteria for deciding bids.
anonymous
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February 01, 2013
Lee, you may have a strong desire to control the public agenda but this ain't going away just cuz' you want to put closure to it.

You do not have enough pair of handcuff to stop citizens discussing this issue.
anonymous
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February 01, 2013
Ott has this completely right. If none of the contractors is following the law, they are all equal in the eyes of Goreham's version, and all will be eligible to make money off the county and the taxpayers. There is no carrot. This carrot is a straw man.

Sounds just like something Chamber leaders would dream up.
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