Collin County reporter's notebook
12:00 AM CDT on Saturday, July 12, 2008
By ED HOUSEWRIGHT
Javier Arreola, a new Collin County juvenile detention officer, earns an extra $1,000 a year because he speaks Spanish.
He's the beneficiary of a county practice that pays bilingual workers in some departments a 3 percent higher starting salary.
County Commissioner Jerry Hoagland denounces the higher pay, intended as an inducement to attract Spanish-speaking employees.
He says taxpayers shouldn't have to dig deeper so the county can better serve people who don't speak English.
"This is America," Mr. Hoagland said. "Speak the English language. It seems like we're bending over backwards for these folks."
He voted against the higher starting salary of $35,370 for Mr. Arreola at this week's Commissioners Court meeting. The other four members supported it.
Last month, Mr. Hoagland also voted against giving a new court clerk a 3 percent bump because she speaks Spanish. Other commissioners approved Nancy Tenorio's higher starting salary of $27,281.
People who don't speak English and need a county service should bring their own interpreters, said Mr. Hoagland, a longtime critic of illegal immigration.
"Where do you draw the line?" he asked. "What do you do next? Hire a Vietnamese interpreter? A Chinese interpreter?"
County Clerk Stacey Kemp has a different viewpoint. Her office issues birth certificates, marriages licenses and other documents. Customers line up at the counter.
"We have to have somebody who can interpret," Ms. Kemp said. "We have a lot of Hispanic people. We're here to serve the public, regardless."