During the question-and-answer portion of the event hosted by the commissioner, King seized on a comment made by Goreham about the importance of being judicious when hiring project managers and construction workers. King said Goreham had voted against a program that would have allowed federal agents to review the hiring records of county contractors to ensure employees are legally able to work in the U.S.
The program is called the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, or IMAGE.
Goreham said she would not debate King on the IMAGE subject. The proposal was turned down by the county commission last month.
One reason it was killed, Goreham said, was because it was terrible legislation that forced any company doing business with the county government to apply for IMAGE certification.
King said at least Goreham was now admitting the truth of how the proposal worked, given that at a previous town hall meeting and in form letters to constituents, she mischaracterized the proposal by claiming it would apply to all businesses in Cobb, which was inaccurate.
“Sir, I slipped up a couple of times, and I do not get the kind of treatment you get in our local newspaper, so therefore I don’t even get credit for appropriate statements, so therefore I will not even debate this issue,” Goreham snapped.
Goreham said King had his chance to speak before the Board of Commissioners.
“You have used your blogs to skewer me all over based on allegations, and no one asks for proof for you for your allegations that you share with the community. It’s over. It is done,” she said.
“Oh, it’s not over,” King said.
Proposal for a committee
The town hall meeting, held at the North Cobb Senior Center, drew about 60 residents and 25 members of the county’s staff.
One person at the meeting asked Goreham about her proposal to form a committee to study best practices for ensuring tax money does not go to illegal immigrants.
Goreham said she would like to form such a committee, called the Contractor Eligibility Assurance Study. The committee would have 10 members, with each commissioner appointing two people. She said she hoped it could have recommendations for the Board of Commissioners by the end of the year.
“The study will encompass the full spectrum of the county’s current contracting practices to identify potential loopholes that might allow ineligible workers to be employed on county work without detection,” Goreham said. “It is Cobb County’s intent to impose disciplines necessary for zero tolerance in this regard.”
This prompted a loud laugh from King, causing Goreham to say, “Please sir, a little respect.”
Answered King: “That would be very little, yes.”
Goreham told King that in that case he could leave.
“Thank you. I appreciate your leave,” King answered.
Goreham went on to say that the study will include inspections of activities of county contractors and their subcontractors, regardless of tier, including day laborers who are paid in cash. The proposal must first be approved by the full Board of Commissioners, she said.
“We will not have people who will be non-objective — that’s for certain — because there was too much of that going on in the preliminary work,” she said.
King addressed the crowd by speaking of his friends, Billy and Kathy Inman of Woodstock, the parents of Dustin Inman, a 16-year-old boy killed in a traffic accident in 2000 by illegal immigrant Gonzalo Harrell-Gonzalez.
“The way Billy Inman tells it to me, and I know him to be a very honest man, when he called your office to leave a message urging you to vote yes on the ordinance, he was told by your secretary that ‘other people had lost children. He should get over it and stop dragging it around,’” King said. “My question is, madame, do you have any plans on investigating that?”
Goreham said she had asked her assistant about the incident and was told that’s not what took place. And besides, King was giving secondhand information, she said.
Yet King said the message came directly from Inman.
“Well, you know, I don’t know Billy Inman. I know that you have dragged him and his wife to our meetings,” Goreham said.
Responded King: “Billy dragged his own wife in a wheelchair.”
The MDJ asked Goreham’s assistant, Annette Friant, to verify what exactly happened.
“I have nothing to say to you,” Friant angrily snapped.
Criticism of ‘delay tactic’
After the meeting, Sue Stanton of north Cobb, one of the attendees at the town hall, called Goreham’s committee “worse than a delay tactic.”
“I feel that they really don’t want to go there, and as far as coming up with this committee, I think a better thing would be to have a group of citizens to go to work sites and yell, ‘green card check’ and see how many people scatter,” Stanton said.
Stanton said she believes Goreham will be defeated in next year’s election.
“Her support of the TSPLOST, her support for the SPLOST, the fact that she was against IMAGE, the tax increase and the green space, the waste of money on that green space that’s nothing but an eyesore, I think is going to come back to haunt her,” Stanton said.
Another attendee, Michael Opitz of east Cobb, president of the Madison Forum, was equally unimpressed by the proposed committee.
“So many times politicians create committees to delay the obvious,” Opitz said. “We know we have a problem. I don’t think we need another committee to study what the problem is. The problem has been identified. We know what the solution is. It’s just having the political will to do it, and the reason that we’re in this situation that we are with so many illegal immigrants in Georgia, more than Arizona, is that our politicians have lacked the political will to take decisive action to protect our community as well as protect our jobs.”
Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews said his city has no plans to form such a committee.
“The county, as well as the city, requires all subcontractors to fill out the E-verify, confirm that they’re on it,” Mathews said. “It’s state law. I mean everybody is in compliance with that. I don’t understand really what the issue is because we do that, Cobb County does that. What’s the issue?”