In a city like San Antonio, it should be expected that Spanish translators would be provided to non-English speaking residents during local government meetings.
"San Antonio has many residents whose primary language is Spanish; however, all City public hearings are conducted in English," District 1 City Councilman Roberto C. Treviño says in a council consideration request. "The situation produces language barriers and unfair disadvantages to our Spanish-speaking residents."
Treviño filed the request, which seeks a "dedicated, paid staff person" for translation for citizens at meetings, public hearings and some boards and commissions.
In San Antonio, according to Census data, 63 percent of residents are Hispanic or Latino. And a 2010 survey by the Census found that 42.5 percent of 504,000 Spanish speakers primarily use the language at home. Simply put, Spanish is the primary language for lots of tax-paying residents.
However, Rod Sanchez, the City's director of development services, says translators have been available at some public meetings, like the Building Standards Board, but weren't effectively advertised. As of March 1, Sanchez said the City's policy changed to have an interpreter present at the Building Standards Board and the Board of Adjustment, and translation services will be better advertised for other boards, like the Zoning, Planning and Historic Design Review commissions — but not for public comment during City Council sessions.
Treviño said those administrative changes are simply not enough.
Fifth in Line
San Antonio loves soccer.
That passion has burst into flame with San Antonio FC's first season and the purchase of Toyota Field by San Antonio and Bexar County for $21 million in partnership with Spurs Sports & Entertainment.
And if the brains behind the Spurs — one of the most successful NBA franchises ever — are involved, the Alamo City must be attractive to big-wigs working for Major League Soccer.
Not so, unfortunately, we learned last week.
During a call with Associated Press sports editors, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said San Anto was fifth in line for a team in the next round of expansion for the league, which includes only four new teams.
St. Louis, Sacramento, Detroit and San Diego preceded us.
However, part of the deal with Spurs Sports & Entertainment is that it's required to attract a major league team within six years, if not, it must pay both the City and County $3 million apiece.
The Lone Star Rail District's Joe Black swears the decade-plus-long dream for a commuter train between San Antonio and Austin isn't dead.
Never mind that Union Pacific decided it wouldn't play ball with the idea of using its freight lines that run parallel to one of the most congested sections of interstate in Texas for the commuter rail.
Black, the district's rail director, says there are four alternatives, which were presented in a special meeting this month to assuage its board and media that a passenger rail between the cities is still a viable option.
"The widespread panic that the project is dead is not true," Black told the San Antonio Current.
The alternatives all involve the I-35 corridor and include: "the SH130 corridor, the abandoned MoKan rail alignment, and new right-of-way parallel to the Union Pacific mainline, as well as hybrids of these options."
Not only are there alternatives, Black says the Lone Star Rail District is expecting an environmental impact study — a milestone for any massive project — to be completed by 2018.
However, it's difficult to believe anything meaningful will ever happen with the proposal because there's been lots of talk about this project since the '90s, but, like clockwork, it always seems to get off track.