JACKSON -- Legal advice will not be sought - at least officially - as the Town Board considers a stiffer English-only law.

But it appears board members both for and against the law may consult legal experts - as long as the town isn't paying for their advice.

That was the case at Wednesday's public hearing when one Washington lawyer visited Jackson to advocate in favor of the law.

ProEnglish, a nonprofit that has helped 30 states adopt English as their official language, joined the contentious issue of a stronger English-only measure in Jackson.

The organization's executive director, Jayne Cannava, spoke after being introduced by board member Roger Meyer, who introduced the first English-only law.

Cannava's organization provided a double-sided, two-page ordinance to the surprise of residents and Supervisor Alan Brown.

She said her organization has provided legal help to towns in the past.

Residents themselves cross-examined Cannava, who has a legal degree, about funding for her Jackson visit and the organization itself.

"We're disintegrating into more polarization then what we had when we got into this meeting," Brown said. "I'm disturbed because I didn't know we have a guest."

Many speakers at the meeting raised the concern that the law would open the town to the risk of a lawsuit.

Melanie Trimble, Capital Region Chapter director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, also said the law was a violation of state and federal constitutions as well as the Civil Rights Act.

Brown said the town's attorney would need further time, as much as 20 hours, to determine if the second law would put the town at risk legally.

The town attorney, D. Alan Wrigley, concluded the town had some liability with its first English law, adopted in March, Brown said after the meeting.

"I think Roger became concerned that the first law could be challenged ... certainly because the ACLU became involved," Brown said Thursday.

At the meeting, Meyer and Carol Rich indicated they were in favor of the new law, while Brown and board member Michael Nolan said they were opposed.

Board member Edward Rouse, who has not previously voted on the measure, declined to express his opinion.

More people spoke out against the law at Wednesday's meeting than for it, but there were heated opinions on both sides, leading to public comments being closed by just after 9:45 p.m.

The board meets again at 8 p.m. Aug. 4 at 2355 state Route 22, and Brown said it was likely to discuss the law again at that meeting.

But before that happens, the town might have some more lawyers involved. Brown said he could obtain advice from the Association of Towns of the State of New York.

"I'd be very surprised if we don't address this, but I can't anticipate all the developments in between," Brown said Thursday.

(8) comments

PfortE

The best thing we can do to counter the attention whores in Jackson and Easton is to ignore them.

scooter

Ok. Let's be honest here and call it for what it really is intended to be - a 'whites only' law. Heck, we should probably throw in a Christianity clause just for good measure.

Truth

Time to hang the Confederate flag in Jackson! Why do I keep hearing "Dueling Banjos" in my head?

Scottler

@Scooter - Are you openly admitting that you believe that only white people can speak English? Really?

It always amuses me when you "Can't we all just get along?" types are so quick to say that we should do things the way they are done in Europe, until it gets to this topic, and then you forget that the European nations all have official languages which, in almost every case, has the name of the country in the name of the language.

unkown

All these states listed below have English as their official Lanaguage(according to Wikipedia)
If this is good for so much of the states, then why such a big deal for here?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_the_United_States

* Alabama (1990)[13]
* Alaska (1998)[14]
* Arizona (2006)[15]
* Arkansas (1987)[16]
* California (1986)[17]
* Colorado (1988)[18]
* Florida (1988)[19]
* Georgia (1986, 1996)[20]
* Idaho (2007)[21]
* Illinois (1969)[22]
* Indiana (1984)
* Iowa (2002)[23]
* Kansas (2007) [24]
* Kentucky (1984)[25]
* Massachusetts (1975)[26][27]
* Mississippi (1987)[28]
* Missouri (1998)[29]
* Montana (1995)[30]
* Nebraska (1920)
* New Hampshire (1995)
* North Carolina (1987)
* North Dakota (1987)
* South Carolina (1987)
* South Dakota (1987)
* Tennessee (1984)
* Utah (2000)
* Virginia (1981, 1996)
* Wyoming (1996)

unkown

A interesting bit also from Wiki is this "English was inherited from British colonization, and it is spoken by the vast majority of the population. It serves as the de facto official language: the language in which government business is carried"

incrediblywellinformed
incrediblywellinformed

So, if Englis is the de facto language and all of our government business is done in such, and we expect most people we encounter on a daily basis, speak English. Why then does a measure have to be passed? How will you enforce it when the memo that gets put out is in English only? If you don't bother to have ANY translation services of any type for even foreign travelers, because your measure did away with them - how then could you assist them in say, a medical emergency?

Real short sighted. Great job!

unkown

This is the United States, You sort of expect people to understand English here. Let doctors learn other languages for medical situations, that is part of their job not that of the government. Enforcement is the job of the police and other law officials regardless of language. If one does not understand these laws, they can hire someone to translate for them rather then expect government to feed this to them on the tax payers dime. If I went to Mexico or Canada even, I would expect to be held accountable for their laws, regardless of my ability to read them. Most people find they broke the law after the point anyways as such they would get a lawyer to explain and defend them accordingly. Finally, my excerpt was direct from Wiki, and not in my own words.

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