That title BTW, Swedish for Community With A Vision, the motto of Lino Lakes Minnesota.
Driving up to the lake yesterday I happened to pass through the town of Lino Lakes. Lino Lakes is a lovely little community; beautiful lakes, small town charm, as the sign says, it is a “community with a vision”. What that vision is, is up for debate. The Lino Lakes city council made the news around here recently by passing an ordinance adopting English only in the town. The measure passed BTW, 4-1.
Before we throw the city council under the bus for being anti-immigrant or unwelcoming I should point out that the ordnance was passed simply to save money, city budgets are strapped and, according to mayor Jeff Reinert, this measure has nothing to do with the anti-immigrant sentiments sweeping the country, this is strictly about budget, bottom line, taxpayers money. Reinert addressed the raucous opponents of the measure who were trying to suggest that this had racial overtones during the meeting, with the following statement, according to the Star Tribune;
“It’s very offensive. Shame on you,” he said. “When my family gets together, it looks like America’s melting pot, believe me. And I take offense to that … a lot of people have been trying to demonize and demagogue this issue.”
He’s right. As he pointed out, Lino Lakes is broke, so broke that they can’t even afford their emerald ash borer programs to protect the cities lovely trees and parks. In this economy cities have to make tough calls on their budgets. By not printing city materials and communications in foreign languages the city will realize an annual savings of about $0.00 a year.
You read right, Lino Lakes currently prints nothing in any language other than English. Oh, ironically they also don’t spend a nickel on any ash borer programs either, so they are consistent in cutting programs with no expenses, brave stewards of the public trust that they are.
Fact is this ordinance was written for the city by an organization call ProEnglish, according to Minnesota Public Radio. ProEnglish claims to be only about English and that they’re not anti-immigrant, a position that would be in contradiction to their founder, John Tranton’s statements that America’s culture is under fire from a “Latin onslaught”. Reading Tranton’s biography on Wikipedia it looks like English First is just one little piece of his ideas about race, the man is full blown white supremacist.
When asked about this connection, Lino Lakes councilman Dave Roeser, who introduced the measure distanced himself from Traton when he learned of the connection to ProEnglish.
“I’m just shocked that this organization would have any ties to anybody like that,” Roeser said. “It’s news to me. And this had nothing to do with immigration. If anything, I’m in favor of immigration. I’m the offspring of immigrants myself.”
If Dave is surprised, his constituents probably aren’t. In a KARE 11 news report quoted a local supporter of the measure who was “tired of going to restaurants and hearing all the new families not speaking English. They speak whatever the native tongue is to their kids, and there doesn’t seem to be any teaching the young kids in their families English!”
He’s right, since the first immigrant stepped off the boat in this country immigrant parents have spoken their native language with their kids. It’s my Dad speaks and understands Arabic, not that you’d know talking to him, his accent is solid Texan. Fact is, it’s not the immigrants who really learn English so well, it’s the kids, immersed in our schools and culture. 100 years ago on the Lower East of New York, the signs and conversation was al in Yiddish. Today, you would be hard pressed to find one person who’s a native Yiddish speaker.
In Chinatown in San Francisco, walking around you hear plenty of Chinese on the street, but if you listen, and if you know Chinese, well, there’s story here. 100 years ago the language on the street was Cantonese, the immigrants at the time were from Southern China. even 50 years ago this was the case. Today, in Chinatown, and I have to go with my friends expertise here, the language is Mandarin, the language of Northern China and Taiwan. The Cantonese immigrants have left Chinatown for the suburbs and assimilation. Now, most of my friends who are the grandkids of the immigrant generation, only speak a few words of Chinese despite being forced to attend “Chinese School” as kids. Fact is, immigrant languages can not compete across generations with the English.
This guy in Lino Lakes who made the stupid comment I’m sure had parents or grand parents who spoke Swedish or German or what ever, maybe even in public. Of course back then the immigrant problem was the Norski’s and Irish.. and we seem to have survived.
This measure is about Mexicans and Central Americans. No one else. It’s not simply chance that this comes up after the Arizona laws. There is no issue with immigration in this country. I’m going on record and say this. There is an issue with illegal immigration, and measures like this do little but divert the discussion we need to have away from the real issues in the same way that the other side does when they talk about undocumented immigrants as opposed the millions who have come here illegally, and in my home state of California have stressed the social services and budgets to the breaking point.
There is no need what so ever for this measure, other than to make a political point. To suggest otherwise is simply disingenuous. I’d like to see the reaction to a Mexican cultural celebration held in a town park in Lino Lakes where 1,000′s of Mexicans from around the state would gather for a weekend of music, food, picnics and Spanish. I’d like to compare that reaction to Oktoberfest..
That would make my point.