Albertville (Alabama): Law requiring English and Spa nish on business signs as ‘starting point’ for dialogue

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed May 6 18:44:42 UTC 2009

Law proposed as ‘starting point’ for dialogue

By David Clemons
The Reporter

Published May 5, 2009

A leader of the Hispanic group that suggested the city require English
and Spanish on business signs admits she doesn’t think the idea will
pass.  “This is simply a proposal,” said Aylene Sepulveda, who works
for a legal office with a large Hispanic clientele.
Sepulveda is a member of La Voz de la Comunidad, or the Voice of the
Community, which she said is a new group with about 10 members of
Albertville’s Hispanic community.  La Voz issued a statement last week
that it supports Mayor Lindsey Lyons’ ideas to have more attractive
signs in Albertville, but the group said it wants an “equal” answer to
the mayor’s suggestion of forcing Spanish business signs to have an
English translation.

“We don’t expect it to pass,” Sepulveda said Monday, “but it’s our way
of getting ideas out there. It’s not meant to be confrontational
either.” Sepulveda was expected to address the City Council on Monday.
 Lyons’ nine-month plan for the city includes tougher regulations on
the appearance of signs.  “A lot of the things in the (La Voz)
proposal are in agreement with what Mayor Lyons wants to do anyway,”
Sepulveda said. “We just want to be a starting point for a true
dialogue, for getting issues out there.”

Sepulveda seemed to dispute the mayor’s claim that Spanish-language
business signs should include an English translation out of concern
for public safety. “It hasn’t been an issue before for public safety
reasons,” she said. “There are already signs translated for public
safety reasons.”  Those include official signs pointing to Big Spring
Lake Kindergarten School or telling passers-by of litter fines or a
neighborhood watch program.  “To make the businesses (change) is
another level,” she said. “Either make it fair for everybody or don’t
make the language an issue at all.

“That’s our point because it costs a lot of money to change a sign,
and I don’t think the city’s willing to pay for that.”  Council
President Diane McClendon said she didn’t know why the sign idea was
brought up last week and talked to Hispanic business owners who didn’t
like the proposed law. “That bothers me a little bit that she’s
representing herself as the spokesman for the whole community because
these two businessmen said they weren’t for doing what she said,”
McClendon said.  The council president said she thinks it would help
Hispanic businesses if they included English translations because it
might bring in more customers.

“I’ve been to Mexico,” she said, “and I don’t see any signs in English
in Mexico. “I would love to see both where people can understand what
the business is and what they serve. I think it would actually help
their business.” The idea of forcing Spanish-language business signs
to include an English translation isn’t a new one. Gwinnett County,
Ga., in the Atlanta suburbs, has considered such a policy. “We do not
have a law that requires it. We have looked into it,” said Joe
Sorenson, director of the county’s communications division. “It comes
up from time to time.”

Sorenson said the idea hasn’t been implemented because of fears that
“it’s not defensible.” “As long as our public safety people can find
an address,” he said. “then we can’t require a sign to be in English
or any other language.”

N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who
disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list