Your morning jolt: Did illegal immigrants help build Cobb courthouse?

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.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

78 comments Add your comment

LydiasDad

February 10th, 2010
11:17 am

The illegals were just “let go”. Was the business owner fined heavily? Why were the illegals not deported? Do we really need illegals in this country given the current economic crisis?

m

February 10th, 2010
11:20 am

Why doesn’t the government just legalize all the immigrants and make them pay payroll taxes like the rest of us and solve this stupid problem that just ends up costing taxpayer money?

td

February 10th, 2010
11:21 am

If this Georgians for jobs group really wants to look out for the jobs in this state, then they need to look at what the out sourcing of state government telecom and IT services (GAIT 2010) is going to do in April. Watch how many of the former state employees loose their job with IBM, Dell and AT&T so these companies can ship them to India in the name of profit.

Shocking...

February 10th, 2010
11:25 am

Illegal immigrants have built everything in this country, from the very beginning. So why should this be a surprise?

connie

February 10th, 2010
11:42 am

That isn’t all they are building. Look at the construction crews now, it’s all mexicans and I am sure half are not legle and another quarter have false documents. It’s why buildings collapse, bridges fall and our infrastructer is coming apart. We must be able to put legle citizans to work and not fall victim to cheap labor. We will get what we pay for in the end.

Silent Jay

February 10th, 2010
11:52 am

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that republicans clamor for a border fence while hiring illegal immigrants. Shocked, I tell you.

budman

February 10th, 2010
11:52 am

I hate to tell you,and no offense, they are the Best Masons on the planet….study central American history and you will see structures thousand of years old and they are perfect.

just sayin

February 10th, 2010
11:54 am

If you live in a home/condo constructed after 2000 you can pretty much tell who built it.

Rick in Grayson

February 10th, 2010
11:54 am

Not only are illegal aliens taking jobs that US citizens need, but we are educating their children at a cost of $10,000 per student per year. Those 10 bricklayers might have had 10 children between them. That would cost the local Cobb taxpayers $100,000 a year in educational costs. Those costs would not be made up by “taxes” paid, especially when the workers are being paid in cash and no taxes are withheld. Once we get into medical care, crimes, and incarceration, the costs continue to rise.

Unfortunately, we don’t have local officials that will deny illegal aliens work in Georgia. The taxpayers take the hit when they can least afford it.

well done

February 10th, 2010
11:59 am

Call it like it is.

February 10th, 2010
12:00 pm

Whats really funny too me is that a union guy pointed it out. It sounds like somebody put a bid on the project using union workers and all the guidelines that come with them and got outbided.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we should look the other way, but have you every really look at a union contract and what they want and what is required. Trust me talk to a contractor and you will understand why so many companies go with spanish workers.

There needs to be a happy medium out there.

right on M

February 10th, 2010
12:00 pm

the solution is to legalize them and make them pay taxes like the rest of us!

walk into any restaurant in this city – you’d best speak spanish if you want a good meal

R Brmener

February 10th, 2010
12:01 pm

When will ICE take a look at the commercial/ Hospitality industry. Today contractors are using nothing but illegal immigrants in this industry.

Daniel

February 10th, 2010
12:08 pm

Although I cant stand all the mexicans stealing all the jobs…its the contractors who are at fault for hiring the cheap labor. It is a very cost effective way of increasing profits. I used to be one of the contractors I speak of. I used to travel to a trailor park in Gwinnett where Mexicans were lined up on a fence every morning waiting for work. I used to pull up, hold out the number of fingers of the number of workers I needed…They would get in the truck..work hard and at the end of the day I would pay them $50.00 a piece for the day. That is a savings of around $1,200 to $1,300 a week that went back into my pocket.
All the blame cant be put on the illegals…all they want to do is work..it is the contractors/employers that is enabling this mess.

Dawgbone

February 10th, 2010
12:13 pm

Does anyone care about anything in this country any more? There is talk and talk and more talk about illegals, but very little if anything is done. Americans are soft and taken advantage of and do no more than talk….America is doomed because of the complacency of our generation…just open the borders and be done with it…give it to them and shut up!

dkjfh

February 10th, 2010
12:15 pm

connie@11:42 – if stuff is falling apart, i would blame the american citizen codes inspectors

rwh

February 10th, 2010
12:16 pm

The United States of America has open its doors for people! Our immigrations laws go without merits and we have not closely watched every entrance and exit and have tighten-down our very foundation hard enough where only one entrance and exit can be done! You are gong to have people coming into America be they illegals or anyone else! Follow the money and America do have master-brick Masons, Master Contractors and everybody else who can build home and other structures just like the mexicans. Let stop letting money drown us from creating and building what america is known for, the very best! Yes, we all know that some of our brothers from mexico who are here illegally build the courthouse!
ehre

YardDawg

February 10th, 2010
12:21 pm

This is a non-story. People here illegally, do much of the construction in the area, much of the labor on farms, much of the landscaping, much of the food prep at restaurants, etc, etc, etc. As a small business owner I know first hand how many people are ‘paid in cash’ and are out of the system. Neither political party has the will to really tackle the problem for fear of losing votes and utimately power. Our gov’t is a joke. From this post you may think I want to rid the country of people here illegally. Much to the contrary, create a process that starts to include them in the system. Heck, most illegal immigrants work a lot harder then the citizens of this country. For all the negative propaganda thrown at it, the FairTax would make sure people not contributing because they are paid under the table would be included in the tax umbrella.

As far as a few illegal aliens busted up in Cobb, big deal.

Ob

February 10th, 2010
12:28 pm

You folks are a real hoot, your ignorance and fear is pretty astounding. I can’t wait until the “Mexicans” make up the racial plurality in this country, then you xenophobes will really get your comeuppance.

devildawg

February 10th, 2010
12:29 pm

C’mon, the project goes to the lowest bidder, and who do you think that is most of the time? Duh, the people that will do it for a few peanuts less than the other guys because they are freakin’ illegals. Also, do you think that any of us could sneak into another country, get a job, a credit card, and then when we got caught, not get our a$$es booted out asap? Think about that one.

Time for change

February 10th, 2010
12:30 pm

Well heres your sign. I bet the used stimulus money for that too. Illegals work for the state, get paid cash, do not pay taxes and the government does nothing about it. Why? Simple, because they don’t want to. They would rather go around calling people like the tax party people stupid and dumb and continue to dump the american people in the trash. November is coming sooner then you think. Its time to put Mexicans back across the boarder and take our country and government back.

Now my question is why the Boss was fired and not fined and why the illegals walked off the job instead of being deported. You think its just the courthouse, NO. Go look at who’s benefiting from the stimulus on road construction. Illegals are getting paid very well with that money while you the American worker are losing your homes and selling off what you can to make ends meet. The illegals continue to work but pay no taxes. Not one penny. They also use our hospitals as a doctors office and then give fake addresses for billing. What good are laws if they are not enforced? Our government is a joke and every country around the world knows it. Its time to make America strong again.

Mike

February 10th, 2010
12:32 pm

What a surprise !Really ? The so called aliens have built the most beutifull sub-divisions in GA .That is ART ! ops

Precious

February 10th, 2010
12:32 pm

Didn’t Ga. legislators pass a law that required the Ga. Dept. of Labor to check government funded projects to ensure that all workers are legal to work in Ga.?

YardDawg

February 10th, 2010
12:33 pm

Ob – you are an idiot. Most posts on this article either praise the work ethic of “Mexicans,” state that we as a country need to find a solution to bring the “Mexicans” into the system, or place the blame on the gov’t for not properly addressing the issue.

You sir/ma’am are the real hoot.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

February 10th, 2010
12:37 pm

The power structure in Cobb County goes along with cops lying to filch money from the People for driving on 285, and knows Bush and Cheney committed 9/11, and do nothing about that…why shouldn’t they let Rome’s plan go forward to support illegal immigration to take over America from the sovereign People?

It’s the rich and the power “elite” who gain when the People, the eighty percent Middle/Working Class, is diminished.

New offices in a new Courthouse: more for Cobb’s taxpayers to lay out and greater need for cops to lie to garner fines for driving in Cobb County. It’s a vicious circle.

The rich and powerful get richer and more powerful…and the Roman Anti-Christ wins.

Hang Bush and Cheney and those who used illegals to do Americans’ work on the taxpayers’ dime…and G-d shall prosper America once more.

Get a copy of the Roman Catholic Church’s “The Nat’l Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry.” Rome is so confidant, their stratagem to usurp the Republic is openly published and available on Amazon.com.

Wise up patriot Americans, Baptists, Freemasons, intelligent Protestants, Jews, and Blacks. “They” know which “team” “they” are on. Why do you think all the moderators on C-SPAN, but one or two, are Roman Catholic?

The Founders called themselves “whig.” “Whig” means “anti-Roman Catholic” and only the Roman Catholic on the Supreme Court illegally voted to make Hitler’s banker’s draft-dodging, closet-queen grandson our president to go on and to commit 9/11.

Use your brains or admit you aren’t Americans or Southerners.

Ob

February 10th, 2010
12:42 pm

Yes YardDawg, blaming illegals for collapsed buildings is really praising their work ethic. And implying there is some grand conspiracy involving the Roman Catholic church and 9/11 is properly addressing this issue. I stand by my previous statement, and manage to do it without namecalling. What a novel concept!

BB

February 10th, 2010
12:50 pm

Connie, you are an ill-informed moron. There are building codes. Do the “Mexicans” control that too? One would also counter that those with more experience doing something might be more skilled at it….

BB

February 10th, 2010
12:52 pm

And Connie, please learn how to spell.

Jose the Mason

February 10th, 2010
12:53 pm

Amigos, you are soft and cant do the work or wont. We just pick up the crumbs from you table and you complane. Aye chihauhau, lazy gringos!

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

February 10th, 2010
12:53 pm

Wonder if “Ob” is an Hispanic, Republican, Roman Catholic?

Orange County, California, is their “ground zero,” and it was Nixon’s and Reagan’s “base” in their rise to power.

Jefferson, Our Founder, and a true Prophet of the Creator, called it “the real Anti-Christ,” and “an engine for enslaving mankind.”

Follow the Creed: Let us cast the Beast into the Pit as it won’t be suiciding itself any time soon.

P.S. “Ob” feel free to download a copy from Google Scholar of the proof of Bush’s and Cheney’s committing 9/11 http://files.meetup.com/275335/The%20New%20Pearl%20Harbor.pdf

…or continue to serve your Roman and Gay Old Pervert masters.

Death for Treason

Jim

February 10th, 2010
12:53 pm

Someone needs to check BTE who is doing a lot of roadside construction near my neighborhood. Most of their workers are Mexican and can’t speak English.

lolrednecks

February 10th, 2010
12:56 pm

Oh please. Do only redneck xenophobes post in AJC comments? Sure seems like it.

1. the govt and law enforcement have other things to worry about other than hunting down, investigating, and deporting Illegals that are working on every job site in every city in every county in metro atlanta.

2. These guys aren’t making a good living as one idiot said. Fifty Dollars a day isn’t a living wage.

3. You’re all morons.

Ob

February 10th, 2010
12:58 pm

And Jim, I assume you, like most others who have posted here, know these people are Mexican because you’re fluent in Spanish and able to discern regional dialects? Because I would hope you don’t assume every brown-skinned Spanish speaker is from Mexico, as there are somewhere around two dozen countries in Central and South America where Spanish is widely spoken….

Wheres that change?

February 10th, 2010
12:59 pm

Just wait till one of the illegals gets elected to be President. Oh wait, never mind…………….

Got Stomach

February 10th, 2010
1:01 pm

I hear the folk across the pond in Great Britain’s Parliament called Tony Blair into that august body to answer questions about the war in Iraq. Next up Bush and company. That probably will never happen. Sitting presidents have high regard for former presidents even if thier policies are polar opposites. Having said that, it will probably be a long long time before Bush and Chenney set foot on foreign soil for fear of arrest. I hear an indictment is brewing in the Hague.

Tracie

February 10th, 2010
1:02 pm

Thank you for calling.
For English Press 1
For Spanish, hang up until you learn English, then call back.

How Ironic

February 10th, 2010
1:02 pm

This country was built on “illegal” immigration and they do jobs that other “legal” citizens wouldn’t do or do it with half as much quality, so why hate. If you want your job then get out of the unemployement line and compete with them on the same wage scale, after all these is free market economy at its best, supply and demand.

Ob

February 10th, 2010
1:03 pm

And it begins….the contingent who’s butthurt that the electoral process played out as it should (you know, rather than having the president appointed by the Supreme Court) is looking to link our president to this inanity about illegal immigrants. I think lolrednecks has a valid point listed under the number 3, just maybe.

YardDawg

February 10th, 2010
1:05 pm

Ob, I said most. Please read before you post. And I believe you called out the posters ignorance. Unless you want to play semantics, name calling is what I call that.

A novel idea would be to post something constructive (see my initial post). Not to say, and I quote, “can’t wait until the “Mexicans” make up the racial plurality in this country, then you xenophobes will really get your comeuppance.”

Carried away in America

February 10th, 2010
1:07 pm

To lolrednecks

I beg to differ with you there.. Illegals do not make 50 per day. I have waited on them time and time again in my shop and I can tell you that money is no object with them and they pay in cash. They have 100 dollar bills stacked up in their wallets. I don’t know where you think they live on 50 per day. That dear sir is a pipe dream. I have seen way to much money from them to believe that statement.

Ob

February 10th, 2010
1:09 pm

In the same thread where people spout all manner of ignorance (not the least of which, calling all of these workers Mexicans), you chide me for offering nothing of value to the discussion.

I think we have ourselves a little irony right here.

And yes, they are ignorant, if you call anyone who speaks Spanish and lays brick a Mexican, that makes you pretty ignorant.

Ross

February 10th, 2010
1:10 pm

Here’s the main issues. First, the projects are public projects, built with taxpayer money. Many are using Federal Stimulus money. Wasn’t this money suppose to be used to create jobs for American citizens? Look at any public school project. Hispanic workers dominate many of the trades on these jobs. And as already stated many are paid with cash. No taxes taken out. It’s not just union jobs being affected. It is all construction jobs. Maybe you all that think that is ok like your tax money used to pay unemployment benefits to all the American workers sitting at home without jobs and illegals paying no taxes but enjoying all the benefits our country provides. Call you representative and tell them what you think. Employers are suppose to be using E-Verify on all public projects.

How Ironic

February 10th, 2010
1:10 pm

Illegal immigrants are also spending their small wages on day to day consumer products at Wal-Mart, helping you all haters keep your Wal-Mart jobs, so I stress again, unless you are willing to take their jobs, let them work and spend, because if they get sent home the money and productivity also goes with it, as I am sure you are not going to clean a house for $100 a day. They are creating new jobs for themselves, jobs we “Americans” wouldn’t dream of doing as minimum wage laws would make it too expensive for there to be a demand for those jobs.

Jason

February 10th, 2010
1:11 pm

If Ken Hodges wins the Democratic primary, the Republican candidate is going to rip him a new one in the general election. I just read all the dirt on Hodges at http://www.peachpundit.com, and there is so much he won’t be able to show his face in public. The court of appeals may grant himm immunity from suit, but his actions are so bad it will remain a huge black mark on him. I am surprised the dems have not pulled him asisde and told him to drop for the good of the party.

jj

February 10th, 2010
1:11 pm

Most good contractors pay their labor pretty well, between $15 and $20 per hour. These are the jobs being stole that no self respecting white man will work for according to many articles. $20 X 2000 hrs per year is a $40,000 year job. Nothing would make me happier than to have the Mexicans enter our country legally, but you have to admit these guys work their butts off compared to many who complain there is no work.
If we close the borders and the Mexicans all go home

Drew

February 10th, 2010
1:12 pm

Shocker. But what do you expect if you don’t punish employers who violate labor law? Employers have no conscience; they will break the law to the extent it is profitable. And if there is no enforcement, it is always profitable.

Worse, I see that many still think that the solution is to blame the victim – the worker – for the crime. The worker should be imprisoned, deported, and ultimately deprived of even the tiny profit their exploitation might have won them. The employer? The employer pays a trivial fine and finds another worker to exploit. No prison, no deportation, and they can continue to profit from their criminal behavior.

That system does nothing but ensure that undocumented labor remains cheap. But hey, as long as it allows us to hate Mexicans . . . .

Otherwise, undocumented workers do pay taxes: they pay sales taxes when they buy food and clothing, property taxes when they pay rent, and if they aren’t hired as independent contractors, payroll and income taxes, too.

retired

February 10th, 2010
1:18 pm

I’m retired now, but until recently worked at DFACS. Huge expense to taxpayers is Medicaid for illegals. You wouldn’t think so, but an illegal pregnant woman who is under the income limit qualifies for Medicaid. In fact, any illegal who has a medical condition that needs emergency attention can get Medicaid. Regarding food stamps: Yes the illegal parents are excluded from the case, but with that their income is excluded which results in their (legal) children receiving much much more food stamps than a legal family of the same size. This is so unfair to American families who are struggling.

Sugar HillDawg

February 10th, 2010
1:22 pm

ANYONE could go around and find Illegals on job sites. It’s like bailing water in a boat in the middle of the ocean.

Keith

February 10th, 2010
1:27 pm

New jail addition and huge new civic center projects underway in Bartow County (Cartersville) and illegals are working there as well.

Wounded Warrior

February 10th, 2010
1:39 pm

There are many illegals working here in Henry county, especially doing the road work crews.