Northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham — the former swing vote on the issue who’s now come out against it —continues to be on the political hot seat, and didn’t do much to help herself when she misstated a key detail about the program during the course of her town hall meeting Thursday. As reported in a front-page MDJ story on Saturday, Goreham incorrectly stated not once, but twice, that the program would require all Cobb businesses to take part in the program.
“This ordinance mandates that every business and company in Cobb County becomes IMAGE certified,” she said.
In fact, only the relative few doing business with the county government would be impacted. There’s a big difference.
Goreham’s fumble begs a couple of questions, such as “Does she actually think the proposal would require all county businesses to apply for IMAGE certification”? And “Is she thereby formulating her position based on inaccurate information?”
(Also, in contrast to Goreham’s assertion, those businesses would not have to actually be certified. Rather, they only have to show that they applied to become certified.)
Goreham repeated her inaccuracy in an email replying to a constituent, Jan Barton, who had written the commissioners on Thursday asking them to support the IMAGE ordinance.
“I do not support mandating to all businesses in Cobb the requirement of being IMAGE certified,” replied Goreham in what appears to have been a form-letter response. “The mandate is heavy handed, punitive in nature, ill conceived and an example of government becoming bigger and more intrusive when dealing with private business. It assumes that all businesses are hiring illegals until proven otherwise.”
Marietta-based immigration activist D.A. King responded to Around Town on Monday: “Maybe Goreham considers having to present ID when she boards an airplane, cashes a check or votes as heavy-handed, punitive and a presumption of guilt of some kind.”
GOREHAM also argues that county HR director Tony Hagler has estimated his department has spent 450 man hours self-auditing the county’s I-9 forms preparing its own IMAGE certification application. She says that’s a poor use of taxpayer resources.
Dustin Inman Society head King, who apparently has made getting the commission to pass, not punt, the IMAGE ordinance his top priority, has his own theory about the “450 man hours” argument.
“That is a lot,” he said on Monday. “But that would be because they found and had to remedy so many errors and mistakes before they signed the application to allow the ICE Agents to eventually do an audit or spot check. The self-audit time spent by already-there employees doesn’t cost any employer a dime extra. They would be paying the employees anyway. Maybe someone should ask Cobb for the results of their own self-audit to see why so many man hours were spent getting the records corrected.”
THE IMAGE VOTE has sharply divided the commission, with Chairman Tim Lee (Republican) and newcomer Lisa Cupid (Democrat) lined up on one side with Goreham (R) against passage and east Cobb Commissioners Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell (both R) strongly in favor.
The program also has the backing of two of Cobb’s top law enforcement officials, Sheriff Neil Warren and D.A. Vic Reynolds. But a number of the county’s bigger employers are said to be lobbying hard against passage of the measure, seeing it as an intrusion and extra red tape.
Yet it appears that Goreham’s side will have the last laugh on IMAGE. As she put it to MDJ reporter Jon Gillooly after her town hall meeting, “If it ain’t broke, why are we trying to fix something that’s not broken?”