Bogota (NJ): English-only plan put on ballot

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Aug 19 14:31:07 UTC 2006

 Posted on Sat, Aug. 19, 2006

English-only plan put on Bogota ballot

Associated Press

BOGOTA, N.J. - Voters will get their say Nov. 7 on whether English should
be Bogota's official language. The Borough Council approved the nonbinding
referendum in a 4-2 vote Thursday. Mayor Steve Lonegan, who proposed the
ballot question, said making English the official language would unify the
town of about 8,250 and help people assimilate, the Record of Bergen
County reported yesterday.

"Ultimately, this is for our children," he said. "It's about what we're
going to do for our culture." Others decried the question as
anti-immigrant. "This is causing racism among people who speak English and
those who don't," resident Martha Alvarez said. "It's tearing the town
apart." A proposed ordinance would require conducting and writing borough
business in English unless federal or state law requires otherwise.
Federal law requires printing the ballot question in English and Spanish,
the newspaper reported. No New Jersey town has an official language.

Lonegan demanded last month that McDonald's change a Spanish billboard to
English. The fast-food chain refused. An English-only ordinance would not
apply to such advertisements. In the 2000 census, 21 percent of Bogota's
residents were of Hispanic heritage, up from 10 percent in 1990. Whites,
who can include Hispanics, constituted 76 percent of the 2000 population.


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