Petting a rattlesnake — Cobb commissioners should listen to public — not special interests — on hiring illegals
by Dick Yarbrough
Columnist
February 08, 2013 11:27 PM | 1494 views | 6 6 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
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West Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham thinks asking contractors who want to do business with the county to certify that they have no illegal immigrants on their payroll is a bit onerous. Instead, she would propose an incentive program that would award points to those who are certified or who had applied for such certification. In other words, reward those who are obeying the law. I can buy that.

Henceforth, if I am caught driving through Cobb County at the posted speed limit and have a valid driver’s license and up-to-date insurance, I expect to be rewarded by the commission. If my Social Security card is legitimate, an additional remuneration will be required. No checks, please. Mine is a cash-only business.

If Goreham and Chairman Tim Lee would like to discuss further, may I suggest a closed-door meeting away from the prying eyes of pesky taxpayers and the irritating media who have this far-fetched idea that the public has a right to know what’s going on.

In case you have been too busy obeying the law to notice, you may have missed the fact that on Feb. 26, the Cobb Commission is going to vote on a proposal by Commissioners Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell that would require contractors doing business with the county or wishing to do so to apply for federal IMAGE certification, a voluntary initiative between the federal government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division and private-sector employers designed to strengthen overall hiring practices. It’s a bureaucratic way of saying that the people who do work in our county are not walking around with Social Security cards that are as phony as Burt Reynolds’ toupee.

Ms. Goreham thinks we should “dangle a carrot” at those who are reluctant to apply for certification instead of “hitting them with a stick” and that while Cobb prides itself on “being first out of the chute” — ours is the only county in the state that has applied for IMAGE certification thus far, although I am told that may change soon — “we are starting to get out there and have to pet some rattlesnakes.” The commissioner is a walking cliché machine. But as I always say: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink unless you make lemon out of lemonade. (Hey, two can play at this game.)

No clichés can explain, however, the request by Goreham and Lee to have a closed-door meeting with federal immigration officials on the issue. Lee said the reason for the meeting was so he and Goreham could learn more about the proposal Ott and Birrell have made. The attempt to hold a closed-door meeting between the feds and the county is stupefying and the feds were wise to call it off.

Ott had complained and had asked that the meeting be held in public. Lee responded by saying that Ott has probably held some closed door meetings himself and — are you ready? — “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Good grief.

I think we need a closed-door meeting to consider banning all clichés.

Despite having been all for the program when running for chairman of the commission, Tim Lee seems now to have developed political amnesia. In a letter to constituent Jan Barton, dated July 25, 2012, Millie Rogers, an assistant in Lee’s office, wrote, “Concerning the federal IMAGE program. Cobb County is proud to be the first county in Georgia to enroll in this important program and as well as having lead (sic) the effort with the E-Verify and SAVE verification programs.

“It is our intention to bring forward an addition to the county code this January that will require those doing business with Cobb to also enroll in the IMAGE program. This process will require several public meetings in January and your support on this important addition to the county code would be appreciated.”

What has happened?

Special interests. That’s what. There is no question that a lot of the deep-pocketed business interests don’t want to go to the bother of obeying the law and assuring us that their workers are legal and aren’t taking jobs from deserving workers and are, therefore, employing some serious arm-twisting. So Tim Lee has gone back on his campaign promise and Helen Goreham is burying us with clichés in hopes we won’t notice.

Maybe instead of cranking out clichés, our commissioners need to look up the term “illegal” and explain why we should give a break to those contractors who use illegal workers in Cobb County. Maybe they need to understand that when they listen to special interests and not to us, they really are petting a rattlesnake. Cliché intended.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.
Comments
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Harry Hagan
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February 11, 2013
Thanks for the excellent column! This is what journalism is supposed to be about: shining the light of truth into the dark recesses of political skullduggery. Mr. Yarbrough shows us once again how unspeakably loathsome nearly all politicians become when they overstay their offices. Special interests indeed! The constituents are also largely to blame.

Pols always hear from interested groups such as chambers of commerce, developers, etc. If they don't also hear from constituents, they assume everything is just fine. Rule number one is, of course, always follow the money. That's the one constant motivator, and pols are constantly exposed to that ever-present temptation. They should always do the right thing by the people who put them there, but the concept of right and wrong seems to have gone dark in recent years, but actually, it is most likely about the same as it ever was and ever shall be. Vigilance is and always has been citizens' responsibility and recourse. It's like sunlight: without it, there's going to be rot and mold. Journalism is supposed to equal sunlight; in this case, it certainly is.
West Cobber
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February 10, 2013
Rarely do I disagree with Mr. Yarbrough's writing. He is usually well researched and thoughtful in presenting his position and supporting facts.

Unfortunately, he must have been rushed or not feeling well when he wrote this piece. I've never seen him so far off the mark. I hope you recover, Dick.
Tim&Helen Adios Club
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February 10, 2013
I hope that King wins on this one for us all if only to show up Tim and Helen and the Chamber of Commerce. But it is really about the fact that we can be rid of nearly all illegal aliens and watch as our tax dollars go to legal workers.

Remember all of this the next time you see people rushing to get their photo taken with Tim Lee or Helen Goreham to be shown in the who's who's Cobb magazine. Idiots.

I didn't vote for Tim, but I did vote for Helen Goreham. Never again! Two bad apples...
anonymous
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February 09, 2013
Really, the cliches are too funny. Do they realize that they've become cliches themselves?

They are the sleazy politicians.
Ole Man
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February 09, 2013
Helen Goreham has not been a friend to the voters of Cobb County for many years. So this should not come a surprise for the citizens of the county.
Really Confused
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February 09, 2013
I think I understand - you are saying Helen wants a closed meeting so she can pet Tim Lee?
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