Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Print Ballots in Persian

From Los Angeles Times:

Beverly Hills residents are upset that their ballots are in two languages. But that's what democracy is all about.

THE UNITED STATES is not at war with Iran, but parts of Beverly Hills are. Many longtime residents are outraged at the city's decision to print its absentee and sample ballots for the March 6 municipal election in both English and Persian, from cover to cover.Federal law requires a municipality to provide ballot materials in other languages when more than 10,000 (or 5%) of its voting-age citizens are from a single language bloc, one that has comparatively poor literacy rates and language skills. Although the second half of the requirement may not apply to Beverly Hills' 20% Persian population, it's a routine and inexpensive ($7,500) courtesy.

What's less routine, and more jarring in this case, is sending translated ballots to all registered voters, not just the targeted foreign-language speakers. But even that's standard practice in cities such as Glendale (Armenian), West Hollywood (Russian) and Long Beach (Khmer).There's nothing new about hostile reaction to foreign languages appearing alongside English on signs, pamphlets and other official reading material. But there's something more comical about it when it happens in Beverly Hills. Maybe that's because unlike much of the immigrant bashing in the rest of the country, the Beverly Hills clash isn't about (comparatively) rich versus poor but rather (comparatively) rich versus rich.These aren't entitled natives angry because low-income newcomers are gobbling up their tax dollars and overcrowding their schools; it's established homeowners miffed at other established homeowners, at least in part because they're different.

Much of the animosity between longtime residents and the newer population of Iranian immigrants is in reaction to what are pejoratively called "Persian palaces" being built around town by refugees from the Iranian Revolution. So we have the spectacle of people living in European-style manses, many based on film-set fantasy designs that represented the ultimate in ostentation for their time, upset by the gaudy ostentation of the Middle Eastern-style mansions arising next door. Even the ballot snit was at least partly about aesthetics...Foreign tongues don't taint the ballot, they demonstrate the values it stands for.

Interesting facts about Iranian-Americans:
Factsheet on the Iranian-American Community From MIT

Iranian Studies Group Research Series – October 2003
Estimated Population in the U.S. (Source: 2000 Census, July 2003 update)
Persons claiming primary and secondary Iranian ancestry: 338,266 *
* The Iranian-American community believes there may be serious underestimation of the actual population due to adverse perceptions of Iranian-Americans on claiming Iranian ancestry. Higher bound of the uncertainty range is estimated at 540,000 people.

Educational Attainment (Source: 1990 Census, 2000 Census data not yet available)
High School Diploma and Higher 90.8% (Second highest among 67 ancestry groups)
Bachelor’s Degree or Higher 56.2% (Second highest among 67 ancestry groups)
Master’s Degree of Higher 26.2% (Highest among 67 ancestry groups)

Income Levels (1990 Census data, 2000 data not available)
Median household income: $36, 800 (20% more than National average)
Median family income: $42,000 (20% more than National average)

Iranian-Americans and the U.S. Economy
Iranian-Americans have founded and served in senior leadership positions of many major U.S.
companies, many of them in the Fortune 500. The following ten Iranian-Americans have been
engaged in the senior leadership of companies worth over $1000 Billion.

Name Position Company Company Value
(in US$ billion)and Fortune 500 rank

Golnar Motaharipour VP for LD General Electric 284.2 2
Shaygan Kheradpir CIO Verizon 90.9 4
Hossein Eslambolchi CTO AT&T 200.2 8
Nasser Greyeli VP for Technology INTEL 202.2 18
Ali Sajassi Chief Architect CISCO 139.2 35
Behrooz Abdi VP& GM for SPS Motorola 31.7 43
Bahram Mahbod VP for e-services Oracle Corporations 67.2 88
Farhad Shakib VP & GM Nortel Networks 17.8 95
Behrooz Zarrabi Manager Lucent Technologies 12.7 133
Pierre Omidyar Founder and CEO Ebay 5.2 445
Source: Corporate Governance Websites and Reuter company value estimates 2003

Iranian-Americans and the U.S. Academia
Hundreds of Iranian-American tenured and tenure-track academics are teaching and doing research at top-ranking universities in the U.S. According to a preliminary list compiled by the MIT Iranian Studies Group Research Team, there are over 500 Iranian-American academics teaching at Universities such as MIT, Harvard, Carnegie Melon, Yale, Princeton, University of California System (Los Angles, Berkeley, Irvine, San Diego), Stanford, USC, Georgia Tech, University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, California Institute of Technology, Boston University, University of Maryland, George Washington University, and hundreds of other universities and colleges throughout the United States.
For more info click here.

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