Mountain View Voice

Opinion - April 24, 2009

Judicial Watch should mind its own business

Is allowing the Day Worker Center of Mountain View to move into what is now a rundown building on Escuela Avenue next to the railroad tracks really going to harm the neighborhood, as some residents claim?

In our opinion, the answer is a resounding no, due mostly to the track record the workers left behind at the Calvary Church at Escuela Avenue and California Street, just down the road from the new site, and at Trinity United Methodist Church at Hope and Church streets, the center's current location.

During the Worker Center's stay at both locations, no unruly behavior was reported, there were no incidents that required police intervention, and the relatively quiet neighborhoods remained quiet with little increase in traffic, as most day workers ride their bicycles to the center.

But good behavior is not what the Escuela neighbors want to talk about. Instead, they are upping the ante, challenging the Worker Center as a haven for illegal immigrants. To help in their cause, some neighbors have enlisted the aid of Judicial Watch, a national legal group that specializes in filing suits against cities like Mountain View.

On what grounds, you ask? The cities in Judicial Watch's sights refuse to take a hostile stance against the Worker Center. Mountain View officials have determined that the center is a legal operation and that its new location does not violate any local zoning laws or other ordinances. On May 5, the City Council is expected to give the center final approval to occupy the Escuela space — meaning that, after years of bouncing from one location to another, it will finally have a permanent home of its own.

In an e-mail to the Voice last week, Escuela resident Brad Keller said Judicial Watch is concerned that "the Day Worker Center may, in violation of U.S. federal immigration law, support undocumented workers and employers of undocumented workers, and that local cities may be using citizens' tax dollars to support these activities."

The fight in Mountain View is hardly unique. In the years ahead, the Obama administration and Congress are expected to take up the immigration issue, which must somehow acknowledge the millions of working immigrants in our country. Like other communities across California and the nation, Mountain View surely has its share of residents who are not legal immigrants. But groups like Judicial Watch are not going to solve that problem — though they might wind up costing the city a lot of money as it is forced to defend itself in court.

Instead of bringing in outside agitators, the Escuela neighbors would do better to leave immigration issues to the federal government. A much better choice would be to reach out to the day workers and work with them to improve the neighborhood. After all, they have done that already at their last two locations.


Posted by Dull, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 24, 2009 at 7:17 am

Escuela Avenue is a 4 block long street with 49 buildings of which only about a dozen are single family residences. A few residents along this street oppose a vacant lot and an abandoned laundry building being converted to a place where undocumented workers can try to find work, learn English, and try to fit into a community. Distorting facts and misleading others in an effort to stop a program that helps solve a problem situation is shameful. Now the City of Mountain View will have to start spending money to defend themselves against an organization based in Washington D.C., that is a well-financed litigious group backed by the Mellon oil and banking fortune. Google those people and see what you find!

These outspoken residents have never gone to the Day Worker Center to meet these wonderful, caring, hard working people and see how well they run the place. Instead they judge all undocumented workers based on the few that have become problems. Judging an entire population by the actions of a few has been wrong throughout history.

Posted by J. Hanksin, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2009 at 12:05 pm

I don't live anywhere near your city and will not be affected by what happens but I would like to point out that using tax dollars to help those who have violated the nation's laws is not a good thing. I would be angry if my city did it.

Posted by Reality Check, a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2009 at 12:24 pm

J. Hanskin's comment is broadly problematic in that there are few among us who have not at one time or another "violated the nation's laws" (ever get a traffic or parking citation, start a war on false pretenses/evidence, been convicted of anything, get away with breaking any laws, improperly remove a mattress tag?), yet we still are the beneficiaries of tax dollar-supported benefits ranging from roads, libraries, parks, transit, public safety services, public schools and colleges, local government, mortgage interest tax deductions, food stamps, welfare, etc., etc.

Posted by Citizen TaxPayer, a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Persons here unlawfully are obtaining employment unlawfully from business-owners that are tax cheats, & who engage in unfair business practices that drive down wages. MV wants to subsidize this criminal behavior with taxpayer dollars. That's wrong & illegal. Not too tough to understand ~ unless you don't really want to understand.

Posted by Daniel DeBolt, Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Apr 24, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Daniel DeBolt is a registered user.

The Day Worker Center requires that its workers be paid a certain hourly rate (I can't recall what it is, but it's over $8 an hour), so it keeps wages up to some degree.
Without the DWC more workers would be on the street, where employers sometimes get away with paying them nothing.

Posted by Jon Wiener, a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2009 at 11:19 am

Daniel, last I checked it was $10.

From what I can find, no court in California has ever agreed with Judicial Watch's theory. I posted a brief analysis of the organization's unsuccessful lawsuit against the City of Laguna Beach here (Web Link), in a case where Laguna Beach was taking a much more active role in supporting a day worker center.

Posted by Enough!, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2009 at 5:34 pm

So I'll assume the DWC workers are paying taxes on their income as well. BTW, the DWC will be a great place for those looking for cheap labor to pick up swine flu or TB.

Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Careful, Enough-- your circular non-arguement is showing. How could an undocumented worker travel between Mtn View and Mexico City with the speed and ease required to harbor a recent viral outbreak?

Nice try at a scare tactic, though.

I was at the spring parade today. The Worker Center got a very nice, well-deserved cheer from the crowd

Posted by Enough!, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 26, 2009 at 9:46 am

Gee eric, did you rain on the parade yesterday as well? I didn't realize I was in the company of this forum's master of rhetoric with all your constant appeals to logic. It does get a little boring.

Actually the swine flu reaching areas such as Mtn View via illegals is very much within the realm of possibilities. TB has already made a comeback in Santa Clara County via illegals. It is an indisputable fact, eric. Or would attention be better directed at the Los Altos or Palo Alto country clubs?

Posted by Robin Iwai, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Apr 27, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Dear "Enough,"

I would like to personally invite you to visit the Day Worker Center. We are open Monday through Saturday, 7am-2pm.

Please come observe one of 20+ English classes taught weekly by community volunteers.

Please join us for a hot freshly-cooked lunch any day at 11:30, it's free, on the house.

Please join us for our next Stanford Blood Center blood drive on Monday May 4th.

Please join us on Saturday, May 9 at 7pm at CSMA for a screening of "Letters from the Other Side" which is a documentary film that tells the story of the families left behind as men and women go in search of jobs that do not exist in their hometowns.

We would be happy to have you visit the Center and meet our Director, workers, and volunteers.

In all sincerity,

Robin Iwai
Board President
Day Worker Center of Mountain View

Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2009 at 2:25 pm

I'm sorry, Enough, you're bashing me for being....logical? I can live with that

Oh, the incubation period for TB can be measured in months, so I dont understand your comparison.

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