MONTEREY PARK — Sponsors of a petition to make English the official language of Monterey Park have filed an amended petition in hopes of overcoming a legal obstacle that threatens to keep their measure off the April 8 ballot.
City Atty. Richard Morillo said he will tell the city clerk Monday whether the amended petition is valid.
Last week, City Clerk Pauline Lemire, on the advice of Morillo, rejected the initiative petition because it did not include the text of an ordinance.
Attorney Marcus Crahan, who had advised the initiative sponsors, conceded that the petition was technically defective.
"The city attorney is probably correct," he said, adding that the petition that was circulated was not in the form he had intended. But, he said, the petition clearly stated its purpose: The enactment of an ordinance to declare English the official language. He advised the petition sponsors to refile their initiative with an attached ordinance in the hope that that might satisfy the legal requirement.
The sponsors, Frank Arcuri and Barry Hatch, refiled the petition with an ordinance that states: "We the people of Monterey Park do ordain as follows: English is the official language of the City of Monterey Park."
Morillo said the city clerk has asked him to consider whether the new filing meets the legal requirements, and he will deliver his opinion to her on Monday. He said the revision is "like nothing I have ever seen before," but he would not disclose his recommendation.
Prepares to Do Both
If the petition is again rejected, the sponsors can either take the matter to court or circulate a new petition. Arcuri said he is preparing to do both.
Arcuri said he is organizing a patriotic rally at the City Hall flagpole from 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 8, at which he intends to solicit donations for a legal challenge and to circulate a new petition if the city refuses to accept the original.
More than 3,300 people signed the original petition, about 1,000 more than the number of registered voters necessary to qualify a measure for the city ballot. Lemire had begun verifying the signatures, but stopped the process last week after receiving the city attorney's opinion that the petition was invalid.
Meanwhile, Morillo said he has prepared a resolution to put a measure on the April 8 ballot that says that declaring English the official language would lead to violation of constitutional rights. Morillo said that resolution will be submitted to the council at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
At the request of the Coalition for Harmony in Monterey Park, a group that contends that making English the official language is a slap at immigrants, particularly Asians and Latinos, the council on Nov. 12 instructed Morillo to prepare the measure. The measure was drafted as a rival to the English-language proposal and Morillo said he does not know what action the council will take on it if the English-language initiative fails to qualify for the ballot.