I would like to address the remarks by Rev. Mark Valdes entitled “Bilingual Staffer in Wrong Place,” which appeared in (Letters in) the Sunday L. A. Times Southeast section, Aug. 31. I feel the remarks were both inaccurate and unfair with respect to my district office services and my longstanding relationship with the Latino community.
First of all, the statement with respect to my sign in the Huntington Park office offering bilingual services is incorrect. The original sign, which was replaced (not torn down as the lette1914726766because after a visit to my Huntington Park office I was disturbed by the unprofessional makeup of the sign--which was composed of torn cardboard and Magic Marker. I had this sign removed so I could replace it with a more professional and visible sign.
Secondly, let me say that I don’t agree with the tenor of Mr. (Thomas) Jackson’s remark, “My name doesn’t have to be Gonzales in order for me to do my job.”
Racializing an issue is not my style and never has been. Yet, racializing the issue is precisely what Rev. Valdes has been doing in petitions sent to my office bearing his name. Quotes from this petition include questions such as, “Would you be willing to endorse a Hispanic candidate for city council?” I responded to this question by saying that “I will consider the endorsement of any qualified person running for office and that such an endorsement would not rule out a Hispanic.” Mayor Pro Tem Henry Gonzalez of South Gate and ex-Mayor Bob Davila of Downey are but a few of the many Hispanic politicians that I have supported in the past.
Thirdly, the criticism of my bilingual staffer being in my Los Angeles office and not Huntington Park is off base. My Huntington Park district manager, Joyce Saylor, has been working in that office for 10 years. The overwhelming number of persons who drop by the office, both Latinos and other groups, requesting assistance speak English. If the person needs bilingual services, he or she can use the Huntington Park office to talk with a Spanish-speaking staffer in my Los Angeles office. This staffer is also my main computer operator, which is why she is based in the Los Angeles office.
My judgment to keep her there is based on both economy and community need, not on narrow political motivations. If a need arises whereby added bilingual services are required, then existing544433522addition, in all my town hall meetings I have had bilingual interpreters available for anyone needing such services. It should also be noted that many of my Hispanic constituents do not reside in Huntington Park or South Gate, but in Los Angeles.
Lastly, I would like to conclude by saying that I object to Rev. Valdes’ comment, “And where’s civil rights leader Gus Hawkins?” In all my years in Congress I have worked to support programs that specifically addressed the problems of Hispanics and other minorities, as well as the total population. These programs include bilingual education (in California 54% of students who receive bilingual instruction are Hispanic), and emergency immigrant assistance, which provides vital education and health services for immigrants coming to the U. S.--most of whom in Los Angeles are of Hispanic origin. In addition, I have worked to make sure that any immigration-reform legislation provides civil rights protections so that “foreign-looking” persons will not be unduly discriminated against.
I have always strived to serve my constituents with the utmost cooperation and professionalism. I hope this letter will provide readers with a better understanding of my district office services.
--AUGUSTUS F. HAWKINS
Member of Congress