IF IMAGE IS EVERYTHING, as the old saying goes, then a number of Cobb’s mayors and their cities are not looking too good these days. That’s because those mayors admitted to the MDJ last week that they have little or no interest in seeing their cities become IMAGE-certified. In other words, they are not interested in making use of that federal program to find out whether there are illegal aliens on their city hall payrolls. And they also have no apparent interest in requiring the contractors and subcontractors who do business with their cities to apply for IMAGE-certification, even with the unemployment rate in Cobb at 7.6 percent as of December.
And people wonder why Cobb County has become such a Mecca for illegals.
ACWORTH Mayor Tommy Allegood and Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews told the MDJ they are in no rush to see their cities become IMAGE-certified.
“At this time our staff and our city council are not discussing any plans to move forward with something like that,” Allegood said.
Added Mathews, “There’s not been a big push for us to do anything at this point from anywhere. … It’s just not on the radar at this point.”
Two other mayors, Joe Jerkins of Austell and Pat Vaughn of Powder Springs, said they were open to becoming IMAGE-certified but don’t know much about it, even though there have been numerous stories about IMAGE in this and other newspapers in recent months and even though the Cobb County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously last spring to become IMAGE-compliant (although only for county workers, not contractors and their subs. That’s another story.).
Smyrna’s Max Bacon also said he was open to becoming IMAGE-certified, but sounded thoroughly uninformed about IMAGE and the difference between that program and E-Verify. For the record, the IMAGE program checks the legal status of current employees by determining whether fake or stolen IDs and/or Social Security numbers were used to obtain their employment. E-Verify, on the other hand, is only used to check the status of current job applicants. It cannot be used to verify the status of those already employed.
ALLEGOOD AND MATHEWS have something in common in addition to having cold feet on IMAGE: They are both taking their cues from Cobb Commission Chairman
Tim Lee. Even though Lee said last year when running for re-election that he hoped to see the county become IMAGEcertified for contractors, he has now backtracked on that.
East Cobb Commissioners Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell are pressing hard for the county to approve IMAGE-certification for contractors, but their effort appears to have hit a wall. Not only does Lee oppose it, but so do West Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham and South Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid. They are expected instead to approve what critics describe as a counterproposal by Goreham that contractors be given extra points on their bids if they say they have applied to become IMAGE-certified. The drawback to that is that if none of the contractors choose to apply, then the status quo continues. The county would, in effect, continue to turn a blind eye to any of its contractors and subcontractors who use black-market labor.
It’s not a hypothetical question. Contractors building the new Cobb Courthouse in 2009-10 used illegal laborers — and lots of them. Unfortunately, it wasn’t questioned by anyone connected with county government who brought that sad fact to light. Rather, it was an undercover investigation by the Washington, D.C.-based International Union of Bricklayers. The Board of Commissioners will hold the second of three public hearings on the IMAGE program at 9 a.m. today. The third will be Feb. 26, followed by a vote.
BUT ONE COBB CITY emerged from Sunday’s MDJ story on IMAGE with its image enhanced. That would be Marietta, where Mayor Steve Tumlin said he wants his city to be IMAGE-certified and be IMAGEcertified for contractors as well. “As we were early participants with E-Verify and happy with such, I personally think that Marietta adopting the IMAGE certification program is an excellent way of staying in compliance,” he said. Marietta and Cobb have long prided themselves in being leaders on a variety of civic issues. And that’s obviously still important to Tumlin, even if not to some of his peers.
“As a city we use federal contracts, do a lot of DOT contracts, we work with a lot of different people, and I think we have a duty to make sure the subcontractors are in compliance also. They vicariously represent us whether they’re on the list or not.” (Emphasis added by Around Town)
THE YEARS-LONG STRUGGLE to raise funds to save the old chapel at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta will have a happy ending after all.
Jane Eisele, who spearheaded the effort as head of the nonprofit Dobbins Chapel Foundation, told Around Town on Monday that base commander Col. Timothy Tarchick told her that an agreement has been reached to move the chapel to a site at Camp Clay, the Georgia National Guard HQ at what used to be the Naval Air Station Atlanta across the runway from Dobbins.
The church has stood near the Dobbins entrance since 1950 after having been first erected on an Army Air Field in Goldsboro, N.C., during World War II, then later disassembled and moved.
Some $50,000 had been earmarked to disassemble and then reassemble the church this time, but because the new site is so close to the old one it will be possible to move it instead. An anonymous donor came forward to cover the additional costs associated with the move, she said. The final service at the chapel at its present site was held last Sunday, she said. Target date for the move is March 10 or even earlier. “It’s like a miracle,” she said.
will be at 2 p.m. Thursday in Douglasville for a custombuilt “smart home” for wounded warrior Todd Love, the Acworth Marine who lost three limbs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. The home is a project of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the
Gary Sinise Foundation.
NEED SOME free legal advice? The State Bar of Georgia will host “Ask a Lawyer” Day from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. on Friday at Zion Baptist Church, 165 Lemon St. in Marietta. Pro bono advice will be offered on consumer law, wills and powers of attorney, family law, criminal law and other topics. For more call Mike Monahan at (404) 527-8762 or go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE POLITICAL FLAP prompted by the resignation of Georgia Public Television senior producer Ashlie Wilson Pendley of the network’s “Lawmakers” program has a Marietta connection.
Pendley — the granddaughter of late Marietta Mayor Joe Mack Wilson (who before that was chairman of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee) — went out with a bang. Her resignation letter cited four rounds of layoffs and five years of stagnant wages but saved her heaviest artillery for the politically-driven hiring of former state Sen. Chip Rogers (R-north Cobb), who resigned his seat just after the November election to take a newly created job at GPB as an executive producer for a community jobs program. She also revealed his new salary — $150,000 per year.
“It was unconscionable to create a position and compensate any individual in this manner during these difficult times,” she wrote. “This was the wrong decision for GPB. It has the appearance of the political manipulation of the public airwaves.”
Rogers, the former Senate majority leader, has seen unwanted headlines in the past year or so in connection with his failure to repay a bank loan and then the revelation that he formerly was a “tout” for a sports gambling network. Decades-old videos surfaced showing Rogers as Will “The Winner” Rogers.
Will the flap cause donors to withhold their contributions to the network?