- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

Good news for illegal aliens living in Gaithersburg, Maryland: The mayor and city council have found a location for a day-laborer center and plan to open it by winter. Of course, that should come as bad news to Gaithersburg residents and, incidentally, to the mayor and city council.

Early this year, Herndon residents threw out of office one-term Mayor Michael L. O’Reilly and two Town Council members for pushing a similar day-laborer center. One would think that that was as clear a signal as one could ask for that residents in the Washington region are unlikely to condone their tax dollars going to fund the hiring of illegal aliens.

Perhaps Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz and his council members are encouraged that none of them faces an election this year. They shouldn’t be. Angry Gaithersburg residents have already signaled their intention to seek a recall of the mayor and City Council if members approve the plan. Judicial Watch, a public-interest law firm, has also threatened to sue the city if it opened the center. Indeed, Judicial Watch did just that over the Herndon center.

The Gaithersburg city charter says that to have a recall a petition must be signed by at least 20 percent of the electorate. For a city that only saw fewer than 10 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the last election, that could prove quite a challenge. However, the issue of illegal immigration is a motivator.

Even if those efforts fail, it is unlikely that Gaithersburg residents would forget how their elected officials catered to illegal aliens. In August, for instance, Assistant City Manager Tony Tomasello said, “If you look at the letters and the calls and the e-mails, they’re 90 percent opposed.” Not to mention that more than 30 property owners since April have refused to lease space to open a site. How does that sentiment jive with Montgomery County Council member Tony Perez’s assurance in May that opponents’ “positions have no traction in Montgomery County”?

It doesn’t. But the Montgomery County Council has been pushing Gaithersburg toward building a day-laborer center for more than two years. Which means that even though Gaithersburg residents can’t vote against their city officials this year, they will be able to vote in the county elections.

The city plans to hold a public-comment session Oct. 12. We encourage residents to go and make their voices heard. The danger is that city officials will balk and hand the entire operation over to the county, which would be less inclined to listen to residents’ objections. Our view is that government — be that local, state or federal — should be in the business of solving citizens’ needs, not the needs of illegal aliens.

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