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As Long as We Remember...

August 21, 2015

A Charles B. Satiré Report

Joe Charlebois


On the heels of the recent decision to repeal the 2012 “Frederick County Official English Ordinance,” the Frederick County Council is looking into more ways to be more welcoming.

County Executive, Jan Gardner (D) has independently hired an out-of-county consulting firm to look into the translation of all Frederick County documents. The consultants, who have worked extensively in California, will likely come back with a short list that includes the same vendor that does translation services and brochures for all of Disney’s theme parks.

Once the outside vendor is approved, Council Members Jessica Fitzwater and M.C. Keegan-Ayers have stated that they are looking to strengthen Frederick County’s position as an immigrant friendly place to work, live and play.

Ms. Fitzwater’s first goal is updating the county’s website. Although the county’s website is currently compliant with the minimum standards for website accessibility set forth by The U. S. General Services Administration Section 508 program, it is only accessible in English. Ms. Fitzwater feels that the Section 508 program doesn’t go far enough and the lack of any other language other than English on the county’s website is discriminatory.

She stated: “In the spirit of the law, we can’t just stop at repeal of the English Only” law, the county should be seen as a welcoming place. Everyone should have equal access to Frederick County. I am proposing that the county's website be immediately available for our residents that speak Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Native Hawaiian, Chamorran and Samoan. We will, of course, need to add further languages up to the 337 spoken in the United States if we have to in order to attract more businesses to our community.”

Ms. Keegan-Ayers has introduced a proposal that would begin each meeting with a welcome greeting in a non-English tongue.  The plan includes inviting members of our community to lead each council meeting with a greeting such as willkommen, bienvenue, bienvenido and hafa adai. Each guest will receive a Friendly Neighbor Participation Award as a sign of thanks for changing the negative perception that outsiders have had of Frederick County.

Of course a translation service via telephone will be available as will signing for the hearing impaired. It has not been confirmed if American Sign Language (ASL) will be the only interpretation service provided for the deaf, or if Frederick County will look to hire signers for Spanish, Chinese, etc.

In other important news out of Winchester Hall, County Executive Gardner spoke out this past week on her vision for the county. She described her attempts to turn back all of the previous Board of County Commissioners’ actions.

Of note, Ms. Gardner is attempting to defund the Sheriff’s Department. She is dismayed in what she characterized as profiling. “The perception that Frederick County is unwelcoming to undocumented workers is unacceptable. We need to pull out all the stops on this one. I am asking that the County Charter be amended to eliminate the Sheriff’s Office and create a County Police Department under the direction of the county executive. We will rid the county of the 287-G program that detains individuals who are picked up for crimes whether misdemeanors or felonies and holds them for ICE to pick up and deport. All Americans are welcome in Frederick: North, Central and South.”

When asked if she was really considering creating a sanctuary district to include Frederick County when the United States Congress is putting forth legislation to make the practice illegal throughout the United States, the county executive responded: “We are looking to attract all types of businesses and peoples, the influx of business reflects our new county motto “Rica historia, Futuro Brillante.”


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