I just got an email from a constituent about the municipal id program. I want to share my thought and ideas on the program. Please leave a comment or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with you questions and/or comments.
With regard to the ID cards I see two issues that you bring up, firstly is the cost of the program and the second is the why are we doing this. I hope that I can shed some light on the issue.
The entire Municipal ID Card program is being funded by a grant from the First Community Bank (this was spun off from New Haven Savings when it went public). The Finance Committee voted to approve the acceptance of the grant with the caveat to end the program if it was unable to be funded 100% from sources other then the general fund. I would like to point out that the BOA was not asked if we should implement the plan or not – only if we should accept the funds.
That being said the reality was that the Finance Committee deliberations became the public hearing for the card program. The committee met from 6pm until 10pm. While the overwhelming majority of those testifying were for the program we also had a few (4 or 5) against it out of 70 or 80 people testifying. Those against the ID program were against it mostly with regard to the financing of the program not about the program in itself.
We took testimony from Yale Law School Professor Michael Wishnie, who did much of the leg work on this project. I asked the question as to what would happen if the US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez decided to make an example of us and under the Patriot Act to sweep in to New Haven take the list and arrest everyone on it. I was told that this was highly unlikely. The committee also asked and received prior to the full BOA vote for a letter that in the event that the City was sued due to the cards that the Yale Law Clinic under Bob Solomon & Michael Wishnie would represent the city Pro Bono.
Check out the New Haven Independent story about this http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2007/05/municipal_id_ga.php my quote is about half way down the page.
Also it is important to note that this program is NOT giving anyone citizenship. The program will make it easier for the City to function because undocumented people will be held more responsible for their actions and our police will have an idea of who some one is rather then just a shot in the dark if they don't have as is the case today. The City is not trying to change immigration laws or stick it to anyone we just are trying to enhance the quality of life for all in the City.
I remain yours in service,