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City’s Refusal to Place English-Only Measure on Ballot Upheld

December 25, 1985

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The suburban city of Monterey Park acted legally when it refused to place a measure on the April 1986 ballot declaring English the city’s official language, a judge has ruled.

Superior Court Judge Jack Ryburn said Tuesday that city officials were legally justified when they refused last month to accept a petition signed by more than 3,300 residents asking that the initiative be placed before voters.

The city refused to process the petition, saying it was faulty because it did not contain the full text of the proposal.

Supporters of the measure, arguing that the city had seized upon a technicality, filed a lawsuit seeking to force Monterey Park to process the signatures and place the measure on the ballot.

″I’m very pleased. I think the court did what it had to do to protect the integrity of the initiative process,″ said City Attorney Richard Morillo.

″Technicality in the law is the last refuge of scoundrels,″ said Frank Arcuri, principal proponent of the measure. ″The petition was designed to be a symbolic policy statement. I’ve achieved my goals by forcing the city to confront the issue.″

Arcuri, who said Tuesday he will run for the Monterey Park City Council, said he won’t appeal the decision.

Instead, he said, he will launch a new petition drive to restrict Chinese- language signs while helping gather signatures for a statewide measure seeking to establish English as the official language of California.

Although its effect would have been largely symbolic, the local English language measure had become a rallying point for some Monterey Park residents angry over an Asian influx. More than 40 percent of the city’s 60,000 residents are Asian, compared to 15 percent in 1970.

Although he said he is pleased by the court ruling, Mayor Rudy Peralta said the English-language petition drive has caused a rift in the community that must be repaired.

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