Before public comment began at the Nov. 23 Town Council public hearing — primarily addressing day labor issues — there was related discussion between council members when approving the minutes of the Nov. 16 work session.
Council member Ann Null asked that the Nov. 16 work session minutes be amended to include all comment made during the roundtable discussion of the unofficial day labor site.
Null wanted all comments made on the official record because her comments had been omitted and she said it was important that her suggestion of increased enforcement — replicating what was done in Prince William County — be included, among other suggestions.
Mayor Michael O'Reilly reminded Null that under Robert's Rule of Order the general consensus of the meeting is recorded — not verbatim testimony — which is why her comments were not recorded.
Council member Steven Mitchell asked Null if she was specifically referring to an email she sent following the meeting to constituents regarding the work session discussion.
Although other council members had touched on it, Mitchell said on the record that the facts Null included in her email were incorrect and not a truthful reflection of what was said by O'Reilly or other council members.
IN THE PUBLIC COMMENT portion of the hearing, many residents questioned loitering laws and why Herndon police are not arresting day laborers that congregate outside the 7-Eleven off of Elden Street and Alabama Drive.
Council member Dennis Husch clarified the town's laws based on research Town Attorney Richard Kaufman recently completed that is now on-line.
Husch said the materials provided by Kaufman have been ignored, not only by residents but also certain council members.
He said this disregard of the facts puts the council in a difficult position, causing them to address repeated questions instead of working toward a solution.
"The loitering ordinance is not enforceable because of its vagueness," said Husch, adding the town has laws that deal with disorderly public conduct and the police can arrest anyone who disobey those laws, but because the day laborers are not causing problems — or being reported by 7-Eleven staff for any reason — they can not be arrested.
"The subject of illegal immigration and unaccounted workers and those who employ them are not Herndon Town Council's concern," he said. "That is beyond the town's ability."
Mitchell reiterated Husch's comments from the Nov. 16 work session saying Herndon creates environments and this is an opportunity for the town to create an environment to improve the quality of life, but he added, although he supports a day labor site, he does not support the town's involvement in social services at the location.
"THE TOWN HAS ALREADY decided a site will happen," he said in response to Betty Valley's comment that "continuing on this course again ... will bring more illegal aliens into Herndon."
"We can't stick it off somewhere and raise our hands and say we've done all we could have done," said Mitchell. "I see people attacking other people and it's getting divisive and it doesn't need to be that way."
Joel Mills, Herndon resident, spoke at the request of Reston Interfaith and Project Hope and Harmony about the site saying he has taken the time to better educate himself on the day labor issue, and he is optimistic a solution is in the near future.
"Sanctioned day labor sites do work and can work," he said. "There is a civic engagement, people are more informed and ready to participate — Herndon will always have a diversity of opinion, but we can put those issues together to help."
Mukit Hossain, co-founder of Project Hope and Harmony, spoke on behalf of the group saying to the council and community they are working toward a solution and he believes he can raise the necessary funds to offer services once a site is determined.
"Whether we like it or not, the day laborers are here and we can either help them or try to push them out," he said. "I refuse to believe we live in a community ... where compassion is a hollow word."