- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2005

Two months ago, as the town of Herndon rammed a taxpayer-funded day-labor center down the throats of its residents, it at least allowed residents to voice displeasure. But in Montgomery County, day-labor centers, which draw illegals, have flown largely under the radar. That’s no accident.

For months, Gaithersburg leaders, County Executive Doug Duncan and their allies have blocked the public from discussions surrounding the proposed Gaithersburg Upcounty Enployment Center and are only now beginning to let the public have some input. Since the negotiations with contractors are all but complete, it’s clear the country’s political class has made a colossal end run around the citizens it is supposed to serve.

In Gaithersburg, city and county leaders have been planning to create the center for more than a year. They had wanted to open shop in July, but renovation problems and contracting issues have slowed the project. Incredibly, city leaders never consulted the public in any meaningful way before their intended start date. In fact, their first public discussion of the center took place only last month. Prior to this, the meetings on the day-labor site took place behind closed doors.

That has displeased many area residents. One of them, Dan Searles, told The Washington Times this week that he and other residents were shocked to learn that the city is about to open the center when all they had seen were newspaper articles. He wasn’t alone. As another Gaithersburg resident, Cathy Drzyzgula, put it to the Gazette newspapers, the city has “designated the pages of the newspaper as a replacement for open discussion in the council chambers … The city did not have one public hearing on this topic, invite one private citizen to participate in a meeting or provide written notice of this project to a single businessman or resident living in the city.” It probably wasn’t much consolation that last month’s public discussion of the subject was limited to parsing cost overruns and voicing worries that the town could be sued over the center. Thus it is welcome news that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. says he is considering supporting a law to bar the centers from aiding illegals. We urge the governor to follow through.

Herndon invited openness and that openness invited scrutiny, and scrutiny revealed the law-flouting. So it’s no surprise that Montgomery County politicos are fearful. They know they will face an uphill battle justifying in public the use of tax dollars to enable illegals to break immigration law.

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