12/09/10 — Best: Vote was time to take a stand

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Best: Vote was time to take a stand

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 9, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne County surrendered its integrity and heritage last month when commissioners adopted a new federal rule forcing counties to translate certain documents into Spanish or face the loss of federal funding, Commissioner Jack Best said.

"Two weeks ago we voted for something that I have been ashamed of," Best said during Tuesday's board session. "We voted to give up a portion of our integrity and our American heritage. We voted to give this up for money. We were afraid that if we did not vote to make all county documents bilingual that the federal government or the state government would take some of the money, that we sent them, back. Have we forgotten that America is an English-speaking country?"

The policy currently applies only to paperwork associated with Community Development Block Grants. However, Best and Commissioner Andy Anderson, who called the policy extortion, voted against the motion at last month's board meeting.

Both expressed concerns about the policy's future ramifications even though County Manager Lee Smith had said it was no different than similar services the county is already providing in the Health Department and Department of Social Services.

Also, there had been concerns that failure to adopt the policy could cost the county $85,000 in reimbursements in its current Community Development Block Grant.

Newer documents, already in a digital form, would not be an issue to translate, Smith said at that meeting. The problem would arise if the federal government requires filing cabinets full of older documents be translated, he said.

Best said Tuesday that during last month's discussion, one commissioner had commented there are more than 25 languages spoken in the county schools. Another said the translations did not matter because the county already was doing it in other areas, he said. Yet another said the county is a bilingual community already, he said.

"We forgot that all our forefathers came from foreign countries and they brought their customs with them, but they also adopted our American customs," Best said.

He said they came for religious freedom, to raise a family, for jobs and "for the freedom that we all enjoy."

"They came to be part of the future of America," he said. "They did not come illegally or to get on our welfare rolls. They came seeking a better life for their family and we welcomed them.

"We welcome all that want to come to America legally, to help make it a better place to live. When you come we also want you to join in our customs, learn to speak English, learn our Constitution, learn our history, enjoy our freedom and become part of the greatest country on Earth."