County continuing Web-sites crusade

Published 2:11 am Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Staff writer

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, in a continuing an effort to have Spanish-language content removed from state-government Web sites, on Monday voted to send a third letter to Gov. Beverly Perdue requesting such action.
The discussion with Perdue has been under way since July 2009, when the commissioners adopted a resolution seeking the change and waited some six months for a reply from Perdue.
The most recent communication will be by a letter, a draft of which was presented to the commissioners Monday, to be signed by County Manager Paul Spruill.
“Our Board of County Commissioners asked that I express the Board’s interest in continuing a dialogue on the issue of the presence of the Spanish Language on the State’s website,” Spruill’s letter reads. “The Board understands the position of your office that certain health and safety information designed to assist individuals in crisis should be available in English and Spanish to all North Carolinians. The majority of the Board of Commissioners feels that your office has no choice but to state such a position given our basic understanding of interpretations on the part of the US Attorney General. … It is the position of the majority of Beaufort County’s Board of Commissioners that State and local Government in North Carolina should object to such requirements imposed on us by federal interpretations of the Civil Rights Act. We would appreciate the opportunity to correspond with you further in order that together we may develop a strategy for North Carolina’s State and Local Governments to have the necessary independence in order to make such decisions in the future.”
Spruill said the letter was scheduled to be sent to Perdue by certified mail Tuesday.
Monday’s action came in response to a letter from Perdue, dated Jan. 18, which drew criticism from Commissioners Stan Deatherage and Hood Richardson. They said the governor failed to understand the nature of the county’s request and the issue of illegal immigration confronting the state and its counties.
In her letter, Perdue said that government Web sites provide important information for North Carolina residents
“Health and safety information is essential to everyone, and the ability to understand and comply with instructions, in turn, benefits our communities. Crisis situations require immediate and collective cooperation, and therefore universal access to emergency messages facilitates help for all,” Perdue said in the letter.
The county commissioners, during a meeting in July 2009, adopted a resolution asking Perdue to issue an executive order removing all foreign languages from all state of North Carolina Web sites and, if she would not do so, to state her reasons. The resolution also asked Perdue to tell the commissioners why the state chooses to post material in foreign languages on its Web sites. A letter, signed by Spruill, was mailed to Perdue’s office along with a copy of the resolution on Aug. 3, 2009. After they had not received a response from the governor, the commissioners on Jan. 4 sent a second letter by certified mail to Perdue.