Last weekend, ESPN aired an extensive report about the Tampa Bay Rays’ manager Joe Maddon and his Hazelton, PA roots. Maddon was born and raised in Hazelton which, in 2007, was the center of a contentious battle between then-Mayor Lou Barletta and the exploding illegal alien population. (Watch the ESPN special here.)
In an effort, probably sincere but tragically under-informed, Maddon has started the non-profit Hazelton Integration Project (details here) to unite the Hispanic and non-Hispanic community. Maddon says that his noble effort is not about immigration but rather about “bringing people together.”
Although ESPN points out that Hazelton’s English as a Second Language costs went from zero to $1 million within five years and that the Hispanic population, mostly illegal, is now 40 percent (up from 4 percent in 2000), it was excessively focused on the advocacy perspective. One local organizer, Jose Rodriguez, said that local residents showed “lots of hate” toward “immigrants”. “Hate” and “immigrants” are the wrong words, of course. Hazelton citizens were alarmed by the dramatic increase in violent crime the aliens perpetrated.
Barletta, now a U.S. Representative, won three mayoral terms before being elected to Congress when he included in his platform a vow to make Hazelton “one of the toughest places in the United States” for illegal immigrants. In his last municipal election, he won 90 percent of the vote so his fight against illegal immigration had the Hazelton’s full support.
ESPN completely overlooked the obvious fact that Americans could have filled the jobs created when Hazelton shifted away from a coal-based economy to the new industrial park built several years ago.
I would have been more impressed if Maddon (name changed from Maddonini) had used the ESPN broadcast as an occasion to announce that he had given up his Florida home to return to Hazelton during the off season to participate first hand in “bringing people together.” Maddon’s mother still works as a waitress at a local café.
I like Maddon and admire the job he’s done with the Rays’ modest baseball budget. The Rays contend with or outdo the big spending New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. But when you’re viewing from afar and philosophically aligned with illegal aliens, as Madden appears to be, good intentions don't cut it.