Today’s morning eye-opener comes from my AJC colleague Mary Lou Pickel, who reports that illegal immigrants may have been laying bricks at the new Cobb County courthouse in Marietta:
A boss who employed bricklayers at the new Cobb County Courthouse in Marietta did not verify that they were legally allowed to work in the United States.
That boss was removed from the job on Friday and the 10 brick masons who worked for him were let go, said Chip Kessler, president of Zebra Construction, the main masonry subcontractor on the courthouse project.
Allegations that illegal immigrants were working on the $63 million courthouse project came to light last week when a bricklayers union organizer questioned the county.
Another bricklayers representative said he talked with employees at the courthouse in November and asked if papers were needed to get a job there.
The employees said no papers were needed and that they were paid in cash, said Jose Alvarez, business marketing representative of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers in Washington.
No doubt this will have every local government in Georgia looking over its shoulder.
Sam Olens, a GOP candidate for attorney general, is the chairman of the Cobb County Commission. His point, just made over the phone: The county’s agreement with the contractor gave the builder a limited period to address the problem — and it was.
It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Theft of a good idea is a badge of honor at the state Capitol.
Last year, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, a Democratic candidate for governor, began talking about the state’s lax sales tax collection. Last summer, Porter incorporated it into his campaign.
He even got into some public back-and-forth with state Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham on the issue.
On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Chairman Larry O’Neal and several other Republican lawmakers introduced legislation to help state tax collectors locate Georgia businesses that aren’t passing along the sales tax pennies they collect from customers.
O’Neal is estimating that the legislation, which includes an $8 million funding increase for the revenue department, could raise up to $300 million a year that’s now being missed.
Credit, of course, is the important thing. My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin caught up with Graham, the revenue commissioner:
“After six years, I”m astronomically grateful that someone other than the governor and Larry O’Neal, David Knight and [Senate Finance Chairman] Ronnie Chance [R-Tyrone] have now taken an interest in tax compliance,” said Graham, who said Porter “has never once written me or contacted me to discuss what we can do and how we can do it better.”
We’re told that up in Washington, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will try to muster a quorum Thursday to vote on the nomination of Georgia state Sen. David Adelman (D-Decatur) as U.S. ambassador to Singapore.
The committee vote was scheduled for Wednesday, but was cancelled due to the D.C. snowstorm. Otherwise, the nomination could be delayed until the week of Feb. 22.
That tea party press conference at the Capitol to protest Sonny Perdue’s proposal to turn four constitutional positions – now subject to statewide votes – into appointments made by the governor? It’s now scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday.
Brian Westlake of Decatur, a Democratic candidate for state school superintendent, says he’s gotten the endorsement of Ralph Noble, former president of the Georgia Association of Educators. The press release doesn’t mention the word “Democrat.” Can’t find it on his web site, either.
The D.C. snowstorm has pushed press release machines to desperate measures. This was in the morning e-mail:
U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), today introduced legislation to recognize hardwood trees as an abundant, sustainable and renewable resource.
No word from the pine tree lobby yet.
State Rep. Rob Teilhet of Smyrna, a Democratic candidate for attorney general, says he’s won the endorsements of two fellow lawmakers, both African-American: Rep. Tyrone Brooks and Vincent Fort, both of Atlanta. Teilhet is running against former Dougherty County prosector Ken Hodges, who has been endorsed by former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young and former Georgia state Supreme Court chief justice Leah Sears.
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