Last night there was a special work session of the Manassas City Council to perform some much-needed edits to the legislative priorities document drafted by City Manager Larry Hughes and reported previously. Three new priorities were added to the document.
First, English as a Second Language program requirements are placing a heavy burden on the Manassas City Schools, and the federal government has not provided the funding needed in order to deliver these programs at the service levels that are required. The city council asked for more funding for this program.
Second, Enforcement of zoning ordinances which help to control residential overcrowding is placing a significant burden on many local governments. This problem is closely linked to the federal government’s failure to control the influx of illegal aliens. If the federal government isn’t going to effectively control the borders, it should at least provide the resources to localities to help control the problems that result. Aid to localities which would support additional zoning inspectors is sorely needed.
Lastly, many localities are considering participation in the Section 287(g) program which would allow local law enforcement to participate in the fight against illegal immigration. While the training is free, participating localities must still pay the officers salaries and travel expenses while they are in training, and other officers may have to work some overtime to fill shifts that would otherwise be worked by the officers being trained. Since this is a five week program those expenses can be pretty difficult for a locality to bear, particularly if wide participation is desired. The last legislative priority added is to request additional financial support to help bear these costs.
Councilmembers Marc Aveni and Andy Harrover strongly supported these additions, and Councilman Steve Smith strongly opposed them. Councilmember Smith really is going out of his way lately to enrage the electorate with his opposition of any attempt to address the effects of illegal immigration. Coming on the heels of his sole opposition to participating in the 2887(g) program, he’s really giving a lot of ammunition to anyopne who would consider challenging him when he’s up for re-election.
Overall I’m fairly pleased with the modifications to these priorities. They still contain some provisions I don’t care for, and most of it is a plea for more money from the state and federal government which is unlikely to materialize. It’s vastly better than it was but still is largely a document crafted by the City Manager rather than the City Council. As is often the case in politics however, you never get everything you want.
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