Texas: Lewisville City Council decides not to pursue official-English resolution

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue Oct 7 18:05:02 UTC 2008

Lewisville City Council decides not to pursue official-English resolution

12:00 AM CDT on Tuesday, October 7, 2008
By MARISSA ALANIS / The Dallas Morning News
malanis at dallasnews.com

The Lewisville City Council decided Monday night not to pursue a
resolution declaring English the city's official language. Emotions
ran high during the packed meeting, during which council members also
decided not to move forward on a policy specifying which official
documents to translate into Spanish. After lengthy discussion, the
council voted, 4-1, not to consider the resolution establishing an
official language. Lathan Watts, who put the resolution on the
meeting's agenda, was the only member to vote to consider it. The
council had discussed translating documents in August but decided to
postpone a decision until this month.

Residents who spoke during the meeting were sharply divided on the
language proposals. Mercedes Bustos, who opposed the resolution,
warned that it would be divisive. "When somebody has their house that
is burned to the ground or lost everything in a flood, they don't need
to speak the same language to understand what their needs are," said
Ms. Bustos, an American Red Cross volunteer. "Humanity is our common
language, not the English language." But John Gorena was among
residents who supported the resolution.

"This is not about only speaking English in Lewisville," he said.
"Speak whatever language you want, but please learn English. We want
to make it official so we can all communicate." State law requires the
city to translate some documents into Spanish, but the city staff also
translates other types of documents and signs related to public safety
and health.  The document translation cost the city about $475 during
fiscal 2007-08.

"We're talking about a minuscule amount for documents that are sent
out," council member Dean Ueckert said. "We're only minimizing our
costs and informing our citizens, so that's in the best interest for
all the citizens of Lewisville." Most residents who spoke out during
the public hearing about the issue were opposed to translating
documents that weren't required by law.  "I know that we're required
by law to translate certain documents specifically in Spanish," Mr.
Gorena said. "But I would rather not translate any other documents
unless required. ... That just empowers those people who do not know
English to not learn English."

Oak Point Mayor Duane Olson, whose city adopted a resolution making
English its official language, spoke at the meeting to discourage
Lewisville from passing a similar ordinance. "It did not change the
way the city is run," he said "We did not save any money, and we did
not become more efficient with this resolution. The only thing it did
for the city of Oak Point was to pit neighbor against neighbor."


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