The Prince George's County Council, reacting to reports that many of the county's 10,000 Asian Americans have limited access to government services because of language and cultural barriers, agreed yesterday to hire a multilingual ombudsman to work with the Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese residents.
The council also said it would ask County Executive Parris Glendening to press the police department to hire additional Asian officers and step up night patrols in Asian neighborhoods in Hyattsville, where drug-related crime has been increasing. In addition, the council will establish an advisory council to report regularly on concerns of Asian Americans.
The vote came in a council work session nearly a year after a 22-member committee recommended that the county substantially increase the number of multilingual employees in police, social services, health and substance-abuse agencies.
Orphan's Court Judge David M. Valderrama, who was chairman of the committee, said the limited council action yesterday should be considered only a first step.
Also yesterday, the council approved a 10-year extension of the Capital Centre lease, which paves the way for owner Abe Pollin to build a 50,000-square-foot office building adjacent to the sports complex. The office building will house administrative offices for the Washington Bullets and Washington Capitals.
The proposed lease extension raised eyebrows because it was seen by some as a concession to Pollin, who built the complex on county park land in 1972. In 1982, for example, he got the county to slash the amusement tax rate under the threat of moving his hockey team.
Under the new agreement, which adds a decade to the 20-year lease of 58 acres of public land, Pollin will build a $5 million building at no cost to the taxpayer. At the end of the lease, in 2002, the county could buy the sports complex and office building or could extend the lease another 20 years and own the property outright. The county will receive a minimum of $66,000 a year in property taxes from the new office building in addition to rent and amusement, real property and personal property taxes on the Capital Centre.