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.