Proposal for ‘English Only’ City Council Meetings Sparks Debate in Walnut, Calif.

Caroline Tan, MSNBC, July 15, 2012

For Walnut residents who do not speak English, participating in City Council meetings and addressing local officials may soon become more difficult.

Council members voted 5-0 this week to postpone a decision on a proposal that would ask non-English speakers to provide their own interpreters for all Council proceedings, which would be conducted only in English.

But the prospect of English-only public meetings remains a distinct possibility. A vote may happen later this month, when the council is scheduled to meet again on July 25.

Though a formal decision has yet to be made, the proposed English-only policy has already raised concerns among some local residents, who fear the move would violate civil rights and unfairly disadvantage a portion of the population.

Nearly two-thirds of Walnut’s residents and three of the five council members are Asian.

The proposal comes at the helm of decades of similar policies targeting the growing immigrant population in nearby cities in the San Gabriel Valley, which has transitioned from a predominantly Caucasian collection of suburbs into a center of Asian culture in Southern California.

The English-only proposal was brought to the council by local resident Wendy Barend Toy, who said she could not understand several commenters who spoke Chinese when addressing the council.

On Wednesday, the council voted to seek federal review from the U.S. Department of Justice before making a decision on the proposal.


Walnut Councilman Tom King said Friday that the city simply cannot afford to hire an interpreter for every meeting. {snip}

King said it is uncommon for residents to address the council in a language other than English, so the demand for an interpreter does not justify the costs.


King said he has suggested that the Council create a “standby volunteer interpreter list” to provide language support.

But Sissy Trinh, an active member of local advocacy group Southeast Asian Community Alliance, said she has noticed that similar initiatives in other cities ended up as “abysmal” failures. Translation is a mentally exhausting activity and volunteer help can be unreliable, she added.


Trinh added that she considered the proposal a “civil rights violation” that “definitely doesn’t build trust with government officials.”


Topics: , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • cecilhenry

    LEARN ENGLISH the language of the country or get out.

    Its that simple.  STand up for your heritage and nation.  No apologetics.

    • Church_of_Jed

      That’s the definition of racism- demanding that non Whites learn the racist White language.

  • JackKrak

    Where are the “Asians are model immigrants” cheerleaders on this one?

  • Where will this end?  Say I’m starting a business and trying to hire people.  What happens if a Chinese or Mexican individual attempts to apply but does not speak English and because of that fact I will not hire them?  Will they run to the ACLU or the SPLC and claim discrimination?  I’m sure this has already happened before, so if any of you have any information I would love to hear it.  

    • Shawn_thefemale

       You’e a brave person. I’ve had my own small business for 30 years and did very well. Now I’m trying to keep my head above water.

  • bluffcreek1967

    Although the Asians are generally better at assimilating than other immigrant groups (and more law-abiding as well), they too have learned how to manipulate the system in order to get preferential treatment. Anything that even remotely appears to make it difficult for them is viewed in terms of possible ‘Civil Rights’ violation. In any other sane country, they would simply be told to learn the language and that would be the end of it. But not here in America. Instead, we must endlessly cater to these ungrateful people and further make ourselves the laughingstock of the world!  

    But Asians, including every other immigrant group, manipulates us in this manner because they know there are enough soft-headed, guilt-ridden Whites who will prostrate themselves before them and give them whatever they wish. As Pat Buchanan wrote in his book, ‘Suicide of a Superpower’: “Who did this to us? We did.”   

    • Church_of_Jed

      Have you noticed that if you are in a restaurant that is temporarily Whites Only and some Orientals walk in, you hardly even notice?  It’s as though they are invisible. 

      But when the feral afrovoodoo Affirmative Action Diversity walks in, y0u go on high alert, your blood pressure spikes and your evening out is ruined with fears for the future.

  • Church_of_Jed

    This article is written in English.  Isn’t that violating global human rights? 

    Letting White Humanity get the news in its own language must be a shameful perpetuation of White privilege and somebody should put a stop to it. If we can’t undo White privilege through language modification, we’ll never  help the blacks overcome their internalized racist oppression that makes them so violent.

    Whites have done much, but they have much more to do…

    In other news, UGA is giving students a chance to explore hurtful stereotypes, but they mysteriously leave out any mention of Eve Carson.

  • IstvanIN

    They could have an automated translation system that takes spoken speech and projects a translated version on a movie type overhead screen.

  • “On Wednesday, the council voted to seek federal review from the U.S. Department of Justice before making a decision on the proposal.”

    Gee…I wonder what the DOJ “review “will conclude. That conducting government meetings in English only is “racist!”

    • AvidReaderSometimePoster

       that was my thought.

  • Money is no object when spreading the “joys” of diversity are concerned!

  • Sherman_McCoy

    I expect some spiking in violence when “Django Unchained” is release on Christmas Day.  It might even cause a spike in defensive weapons purchases by whites, one hopes.

  • Sherman_McCoy

    Under normal circumstances, I would be eligible to apply for German citizenship after 8 continuous years of residency here.  Fortunately, I can apply after only 6 years, because I speak the language fluently.

    How is it that these Chinese immigrants can attend city council meetings if they are not citizens?  And if they are citizens, how did they achieve that without the ability to speak English?

  • Mel

    Oh no…the thin end of the wedge.

    If it starting to happen in the States it is going to start happening in Australia soon..

    I’m not sure how much I want minorities participating in politics, all they seem to do is push their own ethnic group or religious group’s agenda. 

  • “Sissy Trinh, an actie member of local advocacy group” Just sounds like some liberal “community organizer” using PC language to stir up some BS. So if 2/3’s of Walnut’s residents are Asian, how many interpreters do they need? Japanese, Okinawan, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Thai, Korean, Malay, Indonesian and Tagalog?  Just more liberal exponential insanity thinly disguised as fairness and inclusion to aviod the ever-present white racism. Oh, and to get votes.