Saturday, November 18, 2006

*Warning! Long Post* I'm planning on buying land...

in Pahrump, location not only of the famous brothels, Sheri's Ranch and The Chicken Ranch (though locals are quick to point out that the brothels are outside township limits - right outside, I might add), but where the Town Board recently passed a new ordinance.

Read for yourselves:

Pahrump OKs 'English' ordinance



The Pahrump Town Board passed the so-called "English ordinance," declaring English to be the official language of Pahrump, with a 3-2 vote Tuesday evening, Nov. 14.

Only Chairman Richard Billman and board member Laurayne Murray cast dissenting votes, with the three appointed members of the board voting to approve, which had been proposed by Michael Miraglia.

The vote was met by a torrent of cheers and applause from the supporters among the nearly 400 people that had packed into the Bob Ruud Community Center, while those opposed to the ordinance remaining seated or shaking their heads.

Emotions ran high throughout the discussion, with the crowd cheering, booing and yelling out comments throughout the evening.

The ordinance declares English is the official language of Pahrump, meaning all official documents and regulations must be in English, and also establishes regulations for the flying of the American flag.

Miraglia, who drafted the English Language and Patriot Reaffirmation Ordinance, staunchly supported it throughout the board's and the public's discussion.

The line of concerned citizens who wished to comment on the ordinance went along the wall and wrapped around the building long before the meeting was called to order.

"I make a motion, for all the servicemen and women that died for our country, that we pass PTO 54, the English Language and Patriot Reaffirmation Ordinance," Miraglia said.
The motion was seconded by Paul Willis, and was met with an outburst of applause from supporters in the crowd.

Chairman Richard Billman explained that when he first became a board member, "I was in favor of passing only ordinances that we had a need for (and) we could enforce ... And to my way of thinking then, all three of those conditions have to be met, or the ordinance should not pass ... It is my opinion that the ordinance cannot be enforced."

Willis said that the ordinance was a way for the town to send a message to the federal government that laws concerning illegal aliens needed to be enforced.

"In the event that our national government neglects to enforce the law of this land ... It becomes the necessity for the local governments to get involved and start a grassroots ground swell," said Willis.

Billman responded to him by holding up an I-9 form, the document that lists required documents employers need to have from immigrants before agreeing to hire them.

"If every one of our employers filled these out, if our federal government, instead of sweeping the employees when they hold their raids, instead pulled the personnel records and then fined the employers, the problem would end," Billman said.

This was met by a smattering of applause from the crowd, and a terse statement from Miraglia:

"That's not part of this ordinance."

But the board's discussion and public comment clearly showed that the two issues of language and immigration were inextricably linked.

Murray reminded the audience that the ordinance meant that official documents, such as agendas and minutes, would have to be in English, and that it did take into account special circumstances when another language may need to be spoken.

Murray questioned the ordinances statement that illegal immigrants could not receive "benefits" from the town and asked what benefits they were currently receiving.

Billman said Pahrump was providing parks, cemetery, and emergency services.

This made Murray question the enforceability of the ordinance as well.

"If families have picnics in the park, do we need to get documentation?" Murray asked. "I would question if there was a car accident, if the emergency services people would search them to see if they are legal or illegal resident of the United States before they provided medical care."

Murray also expressed concern about sections of the ordinance that deal with flying the American flag, specifically the part that states one cannot fly the flag of another nation alone.

She said that when she had been a resident of a foreign country, she flew the American flag because she was proud of her country. She also held up a pamphlet that explained all the federal regulations already in place for flying Old Glory.

"We do have people that visit our country and want to fly their flag as well because they're proud of it, and again, I feel the enforcement part of it, I don't feel that that prohibition is something we can ask other nations and visitors for," said Murray.

Miraglia responded by reading the section of the ordinance that states the flying of the American flag would have to be in accordance with U.S. code.

The board then took comments from concerned citizens, who proved to be as passionate and divided as they had been at the previous two readings of PTO 54.

The ordinance once again drew both representatives of statewide organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and various concerned citizens, all of whom were responded to loudly and forcefully by sitting audience members when they took their turn at the podium.

Lee Rowland, a representative of the ACLU, was booed and shouted out by the audience almost immediately upon announcing her name and organization.

She attempted to convey her message nonetheless, however, emphasizing she was largely addressing the board due to Section 8 of the ordinance, which regulates the flying of the Stars and Stripes.

"I would like to start with by saying if this were an English-language-only ordinance, I might not be here," said Rowland.

When the cheers that greeted this comment had died down, Rowland continued, "But this is not an English-only ordinance ... What this ordinance is, as it reads, is it's aimed at cultural expression, and Section 8 is blatantly unconstitutional -- blatantly."

Although she was once again drowned out by many boos and shouts, Rowland attempted to warn board members of possible litigious consequences of passing the ordinance.

She referred to the town of Hazleton, Pa., which recently passed a similar ordinance upon which PTO 54 is based. The Hazleton ordinance was re-written in October to stop pending litigation from the ACLU.

Rowland reminded the board, "The city of Hazleton is looking at a legal bill of about a half a million dollars." She also warned the board that if they attempt to prosecute someone for flying the flag of another country by itself, "This town will be on the book for a constitutional lawsuit."

Ben Rice was a proponent of the legislation.

He explained to the board that he and his family had immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands legally over 40 years ago, and that he felt that catering to Spanish was discriminating against other immigrants.

"If we do have another language like Spanish over here, then it is a discrimination against the French, the Dutch, those who came before us ... I came in a boat, to Hoboken, in 1959, and all other foreigners who came here, we all had to learn English."

Fernando Romero, president of Hispanics in Politics, urged the board to take a positive action in regard to issue of language.

"Instead of creating laws ... make it positive," urged Romero. "Open up the schools, for children and adults, for them to learn the language."

Romero also warned of possible legal consequences of passing the ordinance, saying, "I want you to pay heed to the cost of litigation."

Dr. Elliot Brainard said he sympathized with immigrants who do not speak English but also voiced his support for the ordinance.

"This country has a language. A basic language, from as far as I know, that goes way back. It's called English," Brainard declared.

When it came time for the final vote, Willis showed a stack of emails he said he had received in support of the ordinance and read a famous quote from President Theodore Roosevelt, expounding on how America can have "no divided allegiances."

Murray said she could only vote to support the ordinance if Section 8 was deleted. This suggestion was not taken up.

Billman reiterated that he thought the ordinance was unenforceable and unnecessary.

"We have to start somewhere," said Miraglia. "The town of Pahrump is going to be that start."

Yup, as soon as I have a few thousands saved up, I'll be buying some land there.

I lived there for a year (2004-2005), but was done in by the daily commute to Las Vegas.
Over an hour, one way. Okay, just call me wimpy (Grosser Bruder, I know you will), but I just couldn't take it anymore.

This time I'll make sure to find a job in Pahrump before I move there, then I won't have to worry about the sucky drive!


FHB said...

Hey, thanks for showing up at my place. Like the post. Wish I spoke Spanish, or rather, I wish I could do more than cuss you out in Spanish. Understand the sentiment and the concern, but I think we're falling into a knee jerk nativist reaction to what looks like a flood of people who don't seem to want to assimilate, and being a bit obnoxious about the issue of identity. I think we'd be much better off as a people if we'd spend as much time teaching Anglos Spanish as we do teaching little Latino kids English. As it is, we have very little to do with the millions of people south of the Rio Grande, who share many values and much history with us. I know it rankles many folks, but there's nothing in the constitution about what language Americans have to speak to be Americans. Doesn't help the situation to see activists waving Mexican flags and saying things like "America is a continent, not a country". Everyone needs to relax. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Mexico could get its shit together so millions of poor people don't have to come here for work? What are the odds of that ever happening? not too good, so long as they have us to take care of all their poor people and boost their economy. Socialist idiots.

Anonymous said...

These kinds of nativist and xenophobic reactions disgust me. Other than immigrants from England or other English speaking nations, they all spoke foreign languages on arrival to our country, and moved to ethnically homogeneous enclaves for social comity and a sense of security. Within a few generations their progeny all spoke English as natives, and many couldn’t speak the native languages of their immigrant forebears. Immigrants from Latin America come here to work, and they work hard. When you hear gripes about the toll on public services, you don’t hear a thing about the billions they pour into the economy through their spending. I could go on and on, and counter data with data, but what’s the point? On these kinds of contentious issues, it’s hard to get anyone to move from a previously held point of view.

Dein grosser Bruder

Christina RN LMT said...

Almost every day at work, I have patients who come in who refuse to speak English with me. I know they can speak English, because they have to for their jobs at this casino.
But it's just easier for them to holler for my colleague who does speak Spanish.

I mean that literally.

They don't say "hello" to me or anything, just yell "Alma".

Makes me feel like crap.

They do it on the phone too.

Boy, does it suck for them when they call and she's at lunch.
Surprisingly in those cases, they miraculously gain the power to speak English with me!

I think we live in a wonderful country, with room for people from all over, I just think there is no excuse for people not to be able to speak our language after they have lived here for any number of years. And I think it is wrong for us to have to cater to them.

Just my two cents!

Grosser Bruder - you make your point very eloquently, as always, but I remember very well when we lived in Germany and you refused to learn the language, stating "I'm an American, I speak English".

Anonymous said...

True, but that misses the point entirely. I was an expatriate, having lived in the country a total of four years. In addition, I never planned on living the rest of my life there. Also, I "spoke" enough German to get by, even if not well.

The point is that people are griping about foreigners coming to this country, “taking jobs,” using public resources without “paying their fair share,” and showing a less than an enthusiastic willingness to assimilate into our culture.

Finally, the salient point in this argument is that America is a nation of immigrants, founded by immigrants. The same can’t be said of Germany. And thus your argument founders on this unassailable point.

Dein grosser Bruder

Christina RN LMT said...

Grosser Bruder, you're missing MY point.

The United States has been, is, and remains the Land of Opportunity.

Anybody who comes here legally, who's not a terrorist, is more than welcome, as far as I'm concerned.

HOWEVER, if you're planning on chasing the American Dream, show some respect and learn the fucking language, otherwise, go back to where you came from (with my boot planted firmly up your ass).

If you've lived here for any length of time, you'd better be fairly fluent in the language. I've had a patient from Serbia get pissed at me because of HIS failure to communicate, and he's been living here in Vegas for four years.

It gets quite frustrating.

The prize goes to the extremely nice lady from Thailand, though, who has been living here for 29 years and sounds like she just got off the boat.

Funny story about when I first moved here to Las Vegas, though, when I was job hunting.

At the time, a lot of the want-ads listed simply "bilingual a plus" (notice the lack of specification), so I happily went to apply everywhere, where I was asked, "So, you speak Spanish, right?"

"Uh, no, but I am fluent in German, and can speak a smattering of Korean, too, if that helps."

It didn't, and needless to say, I didn't get any of those jobs!

Now, they specify "Spanish/English bilingual a plus" in those want-ads...I guess they learned!