New group opposes labor center in Shady Grove area

Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007

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Brad Botwin, Derwood

The writer is director of Help Save Maryland.

Should anyone really be surprised? One of new County Executive Ike Leggett’s first acts has been to ‘‘solve” the day laborer center issue with the city of Gaithersburg in ways that run roughshod over citizens’ clearly expressed preferences.

Leggett first picked a former crony, Chuck Short, whose claim to fame was setting up an earlier illegal worker pick-up center in Silver Spring. Short has been ordered to find a new location for the growing number of illegal immigrants congregating in Gaithersburg. Although no fewer than 30 previous such efforts were rejected by Gaithersburg residents, the county government plainly is desperate to spend our precious tax dollars on providing shelter and jobs for people who have no legal right to be in the United States.

The site chosen by Leggett and Short only adds insult to injury — county property near Shady Grove Road and Route 355. Had officials bothered to conduct any research at all, they would quickly have discovered that this property is part of the county-approved Shady Grove Sector Plan. Working closely with the county park and planning staff, residents of Derwood and surrounding neighborhoods spent years developing a thoughtful sector plan mix providing for housing, industrial and commercial uses.

Now, Leggett and Short would toss all that out by forcing construction of a taxpayer-funded illegal worker pickup center on property slated for job-creating high-tech companies and a needed fire station.

Because of such growing abuses of official power, I announce the creation of a new group called ‘‘Help Save Maryland.” Our goals are simple — improve the quality of life for Maryland citizens; make our elected officials more responsive to our needs; and enhance public safety by enforcing the law, among other measures.