By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
First, a little disclosure on Buzz's part. We were talking this week with Gilberto Cortez, publisher of the local Spanish-language newspaper La Prensa, concerning a list of complaints he has about the way the city communicates with Spanish-speaking media. Interesting, we said. Is there anyone else who feels the same way? Sure, he said, but they don't speak Spanish. Does Buzz?
Got anyone on the Dallas Observer who can translate?
No, not really.
So it's with a sense of our own shortcomings that we pass on the following: Cortez and, as far as unilingual Buzz can tell, other Spanish-speaking reporters believe the city doesn't communicate well in Spanish, which is a problem in a community with a large and growing Hispanic population.
Cortez called Buzz last week after he was denied access to free media parking in the City Hall garage when he couldn't show any valid press identification because, he points out, the city stopped issuing press cards more than a year ago. He missed an interview while he searched for street parking, and that got him talking to us about what he feels is generally shoddy treatment for Spanish media. Spanish-speaking reporters at these outlets are not given the same level of access to City Hall and police headquarters, Cortez says. The city has too few public information officers who are fluent in Spanish. It places few employment ads and public notices in Spanish newspapers.
"I feel that we are mistreated, like we are second-class citizens," says Cortez.
We commiserated with him--in English, of course--then called the city public information office to get its side. Pete Oppel, director of the public information office, says the city has heard the complaints and is taking steps to translate all its publications into Spanish, even hiring an outside translation firm for some. It's trying to spread the advertising money around as the budget allows, he says. And soon the city's official Web site, www.dallascityhall.org, will be posted in Spanish as well as English.
Even Oppel agrees the city needs to do more. "We can't be doing enough," he says.
Which is nice. Now if only someone can come up with a language in which the Trinity River project makes sense, more public money for the arena developers is a good deal, and telling voters that no public money would be spent seeking the Olympics isn't a lie, everything will be jake.
We suggest pig Latin.