This story about the Illinois General Assembly and a State Representative's proposal to spend $1.5M in state funds to translate the Illinois General Assembly's website into Spanish is so indicative of government leaders today and the problems their proposals create and cascade down upon all of us: the taxpayers.
Democrat State Rep. Robert Martwick (of Chicago) sponsored the bill because he felt the language barrier made it difficult for certain people to fully appreciate the wealth of information available from government resources, specifically online.
The $1.5 million cost estimation comes from one of the co-sponsors of the bill, who says that software issues could arise, according to Illinois News Network.
“For these people who are citizens of our country who have the ability, if they don’t have the information to know what’s going on here, how can they properly engage in having their voice being heard?” Martwick asked, according to Illinois News Network. “I think we owe it to be inclusive to all of the language speakers of our country … When we start talking about things we need to spend money on, this is the right thing to spend money on.”Fortunately for all of us, there's a guy named Keith Wheeler who serves as a State Representative down in Springfield, too. And, while we're not sure the bill would have passed, because of the political correctness and the need to pander to special interest groups and make everyone feel special, our hunch is that it would have.
But thanks to Keith Wheeler. We not only killed the bill. We also got a lot of LULZ out of the situation. And we have to think Representative Martwick has his tail between his legs a bit.
How? Well...Representative Wheeler simply turned to Google Translate. And solved the $1.5M problem with a few clicks of his mouse.
Republican Rep. Keith Wheeler, who reportedly runs an IT company as well, translated Martwick’s bill into Polish, after his colleague said that his family of Polish descent wouldn’t have been able to engage with the government.And he even went further. According to The Caucus Blog from the Illinois House Republicans, they've set up the Illinois General Assembly site to be viewed in more than a dozen languages.
“While my friend Rep. Robert Martwick was talking, I switched [his bill] over to Polish,” Wheeler said. “It just took a click. That’s all it took … it already exists.”
Anyone with access to the internet can now access a translated version of www.ilga.gov in any of the most common languages spoken in Illinois simply by clicking on the links below:
Spanish EspañolAre these *perfect* translations? If we know Google Translate at all, we know the answer is going to be no. But they're going to be 'good enough'.
Chinese (Simplified) 中文简体
Chinese (Traditional) 中文繁體
Fortunately for all of us taxpayers: The bill got pulled. Because sanity prevailed. Good on you, Representative Wheeler.