Controversial Citizens Guide Now In Spanish Commissioner Rankin ‘Tweaked’
Habla Espanol, Senor Rankin?
With the help of an unnamed donor, the League of Women Voters of Kootenai County will publish its Citizens Guide brochure in Spanish.
It doesn’t take a keen local political observer to view that as a jab at County Commissioner Ron Rankin.
Rankin led the push to make English the official language of Kootenai County, and has been critical of Forest Service efforts to recruit Hispanic workers.
In an unrelated issue, Rankin also objected to the league’s brochure being printed on county presses - in part because the local chapter opposed a property tax cap that he wanted.
“Consider me tweaked,” Rankin said Tuesday upon hearing of plans for the Spanish version.
“I think they’re discriminating,” he added, suggesting that the league is ignoring other minority languages.
“There’s some Egyptians around here who I think will feel bad about that. And there’s a few Pakistanis here.”
The guide provides residents with information about representatives in federal, state and local governments, as well as court listings, school information and other public services.
Last year the county printed about 4,000 copies, at a cost to taxpayers of about $200. County administrator Tom Taggart called the brochure “extremely useful.”
This year, after Rankin objected, donors stepped forward to pay for the printing.
One of them offered to pay specifically for a Spanish-language version. Joy Scherr, co-chairman of the league chapter, wouldn’t say who had given the money.
The brochure text has just been given to a translator, Sherr said. She wasn’t sure when the 500 copies will be printed.
Deedie Beard, county election supervisor, said she will be glad to offer the Spanish-language brochures to the public.
“We’ve never had a request for one,” she said. “But then, it’s a known fact that we only publish in English. Maybe that’s why they don’t ask.”