Eye on Government

By: Caitlin Coakley, staff writer//October 8, 2010//

Eye on Government

By: Caitlin Coakley, staff writer//October 8, 2010//

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A look at happenings in local government

Commission votes down immigration proposal

The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners on Monday voted down a proposal by Commissioner Bill James to request more information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about how a county organization could report undocumented immigrants seeking assistance for their U.S.-born child.

The measure was a scale back from James’ original proposal, which was to ignore state and federal regulations and report the parents of U.S.-born children receiving benefits from the county’s Department of Social Services if a DSS official suspected the parents were in the country illegally, “even if this results in litigation with either the state of North Carolina or the federal Department of Agriculture.”

“We have all these illegals in our system, and we don’t know if they’re Osama (bin Laden) wannabes or what the heck they are,” James said, drawing gasps of disapproval from the audience.

James’ comments and proposal drew criticism from other commissioners, particularly George Dunlap, who accused James of raising the issue as a way to gain favor with his Republican base before the Nov. 2 election.

Ultimately, the proposal was voted down 5-3, with Republicans Neil Cooksey, Karen Bentley and James voting in favor and Democrats Dumont Clarke, Harold Cogdell, Vilma Leake, Dan Murrey and Dunlap voting against.

Looking ahead:
On Monday night, at the dinner briefing before the Charlotte City Council meeting, council members will discuss proposed changes to various ordinances, including the subdivision ordinance, to implement Urban Street Design Guidelines originally adopted in 2007. The council will also hear an update from the Charlotte Area Transit System regarding advertisements on the exterior of CATS vehicles.

The council will also hold a public hearing on a proposition to permanently close Emery Street, a portion of North Church Street and an alleyway off of Ashby Street, all within the Lockwood community.

Council members will vote to approve a $305,450 contract with the Tallahassee, Fla.-based research firm MGT of America Inc. to research and update the city’s 2003 disparity study. If awarded the contract, MGT would look at the amount of city dollars that have gone to qualified women- and minority-owned businesses in the form of prime contracts and subcontracts.

Caitlin Coakley can be reached at [email protected].

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