Trenton's translation ordinance faces obstacles when first rolled out

Trenton City Council Chambers. Trentonian file photo.

A proposed ordinance to help translate key City of Trenton documents from English into Spanish stalled last week due to a lack of cooperation from City Council members.

Law Director Wes Bridges and Economic Administrator Adam Cruz said City Council members submitted a proposal prematurely.

“This is really a good example of how important it is for the city council and the administration to work together. “When the city council makes these proposals, it is important that they talk to the administration,” Cruz advised.

“You might have a great idea, and it is a great idea. But we have to budget for it and make sure we have the resources to do it.” Cruz expressed the need for final dollar amounts and details for the city documents submitted for translation.

Councilwoman Yazminelly Gonzalez supported the legislation. She sounded concerned about questions from several colleagues.

“I sent an email to every member of the city council before the launch, asking for ideas and suggestions. I haven't received a response from anyone. I didn’t know if anyone had any ideas about this (regulation) or not,” Gonzalez explained.

Bridges echoed Cruz's assessment that the City Council would need to pass concise legislation before these items reach the docket.

“Although we have a good working relationship with the city council, this is again an example of why when you go to your governing body to vote and plan for it, when it is something that requires a budget (actions), something that…” “The administration has to come up with suggestions, we obviously always support the council in moving these things forward – we absolutely need to work together to move initiatives forward,” Bridges said.

He added that both parties “should act together and not just unilaterally, so that we know there is a concrete plan to ensure that (proposals) are implemented, but also to ensure that funding is available.”
Bridges said continued collaboration between the City Council and administration requires discussions before items reach the docket stage.

The city council expects to reintroduce the law shortly. The translation regulation will eventually extend to other languages.

Anna Harden

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