Tag Archives: South Carolina

WILL E-VERIFY CONTINUE TO EXIST?

SOME LEFT WONDERING WHY E-VERIFY STRIPPED FROM STIMULUS BILL

By Vince Jackson

The final version of the federal Economic Stimulus Bill does not contain a provision requiring the use of the E-Verify system in the hiring of employees on federal stimulus projects. The current requirement to verify federal contract employees is due to expire on March 6.

The provision was originally included in the House and Senate versions of the stimulus bill, but was deleted from the final reconciliation package before being signed by President Obama this week.

Locally, Pickens County, SC has used E-Verify to screen all new employees, the State of South Carolina uses it for certifying workers of companies that employ over 500 people and participate in state contacts. Last fall, then President Bush extended the requirement that contractors doing business in the federal workplace certify that their employees are legally able to work in this country.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration have partnered to, quickly and without charge, verify the legal status of any worker in the United States, according to the Homeland Security webpage.

Margaret Thompson, an outspoken advocate of the E-Verify system, said “Our leaders are spineless when it comes to enforcing our immigration laws and the protection of the jobs of American workers.”

Thompson said that a group of concerned citizens plans to speak-out at Anderson city and county council meetings in the future about the hiring of illegal workers on public projects, that are paid for with local tax dollars.

“We want our local officials to understand that jobs are being lost because contractors are skirting the law and hiring illegal workers,” Thompson said.

Stuart Sprague, chairman of the Anderson County Democratic Party, said that he was not up to speed on some provisions of the stimulus package and could not comment at this time.

Lee Rogers, chairman of the Anderson County Republican Party, said “I do not understand why E-Verify would be dropped from the stimulus bill. I can only hope that it will continue to be a part of the state and federal job verification process.”

Joe Guzzardi, a consultant for NumbersUSA and former California Democratic gubernatorial candidate,  “It is a very sad realization that our leaders do not have America’s best interests at heart. I work with E-Verify every day and I know that it works. Why would we want illegal workers on our state and federal payrolls being paid with stimulus money?”

John Painter, Pickens County Democratic chairman, said “My hope is that Gov. Sanford will take advantage of the Stimulus Package, because the taxpayers of SC will pay it back no matter what the outcomes.”

It is unclear what the status of Homeland Security’s e-verification process will be or what the effect of not re-authorizing the federal requirement will have on state and local programs.

PAINTED BUNTING IN TROUBLE

AUDUBON’S NONPAREIL BUNTING THREATENED

By Vince Jackson

John James Audubon aptly named it the Nonpareil Bunting, a bird so strikingly beautiful that he thought it to “have no equal,” when he first saw it in South Carolina. Ornithologist and South Carolinian Alexander Sprunt Jr. said that it is “brilliant in its flaming, jewel-like radiance. Truly it is without equal.”

Today, people who have seen Passerina ciris might agree with these lofty assessments. The Painted Bunting, a small finch found along the South Carolina coast and inland near the state’s rivers during the summer, is certainly an unmistakable eyeful. To some it is gaudy in its red, blue and green carnival plumage, but most just look with their mouths open and their eyes wide.

Unfortunately, like many songbirds it is in trouble. Loss of breeding habitat, nest parasitism by the more aggressive Brown-headed Cowbird, capture in Mexico and Central America for the pet trade, and feral cats all take a toll.

The popularity of beach homes in SC has diminished the coastal habitat of the Painted Bunting, but the bird can live in proximity to man if bird-friendly conditions exist, say experts.

Buntings feed frequently at bird feeders. In fact most sightings are made while they are consuming bird seed in people’s backyards. They also stay close to the ground and this makes them more visible to observers. Because of these characteristics the bird has become a “favorite” and “desirable” to homeowners who enjoy watching birds, say coastal bird watchers like Joe and Maureen Osteen, who have a summer home at Edisto Island.

“Joe and I really enjoy seeing these beauties in our yard. Wow, they are something else,” said Maureen.

People who live on the coast or have a summer home there can provide suitable habitat for buntings by leaving native trees like wax myrtle, scrub pine and red cedar on their property. Native grasses, beach scrub and Spanish moss make needed contributions for food and nesting material, unlike more exotic introduced plants. Consider low, creeping seed and berry producing plants to attract buntings instead of a lawn, says the National Audubon Society.

The Painted Bunting has been given a high priority by conservation groups working to save songbirds from extinction. The bird is on the National Audubon Society’s Watchlist of species in decline and special attention is being paid to populations on the barrier islands of South Carolina and Georgia due to the advantageous habitat the islands afford.

Population censuses indicate that Painted Buntings are declining at the rate of 3% a year in South Carolina. That amounts to an almost 50% decline in twenty years. Scientists at the Migratory Bird Data Center think that Painted Buntings can be managed much like game birds such as quail and dove.

“The barrier islands of Georgia and South Carolina offer the best historic habitats for these birds to survive. That is where the effort should be focused,” says researcher Joe Myers of the US Geological Survey.

Anyone interested in tracking Painted Buntings or contributing sighting information can go to the PAINTED BUNTING OBSERVER TEAM website for more information.

COUGAR SIGHTINGS IN THE SOUTHEAST

This is a site that may be used to report any sightings of “Big Cats” primarily in the southeastern states, South Carolina and north Georgia in particular.

Many people are convinced that cougars, catamounts, mountain lions or whatever you wish to call them occur in the Southeastern United States. A number of sightings in recent years confirm that big cats, of many types, are on the loose and are seen on occasion by hunters, hikers and farmers. Some of these animals may well be “wild”.

Recently, the U S Fish and Wildlife Service announced a plan to introduce (re-introduce?) cougars to the Okefenokee Swamp in SE Georgia. This will be an interesting test of just how free ranging these big cats are, if this actually happens.

If you have an encounter with a cougar, please use this forum to report the incident giving as many details as possible.