Now is the time to be “For” transit

The undersigned advocates for equity and inclusion and various members of the Nashville for All of Us steering committee support the transit plan and encourage everyone to vote “For” the referendum between now and May 1st. While there are a variety of needs we must address as a city to stem the tide of gentrification, inequity, and poverty, creating a mass transit system in Nashville is one of the most drastic steps we can take to reach that goal.

Nashville cannot hope to manage the enormous population boom that it will experience over the next 20 years without mass transit. If we cannot move people around affordably and efficiently, we will cease to progress as a city; Nashville will have truly failed its residents, businesses, and visitors.

As difficult as that would be for everyone, the brunt of that failure would be felt by those who make this city work; by those who serve in Nashville’s robust hospitality industry; by those literally changing the face of Nashville through development/construction; by the teachers who prepare our kids for the future, the first responders who keep us safe, and the healthcare staff who care for us; by those taking a huge risk to start their own businesses; by those paid minimum wage, struggling to make ends meet; by those working in the civic/social sectors of our society who assist those in great need; and by our friends, family, and colleagues who are trying to make a life here.

Like many Nashvillians, we are frustrated that this referendum does not include a comprehensive plan and funding source for affordable housing. Yet, we believe this transit plan will address one of this city’s most intractable barriers to equity and inclusion. Therefore, voting against transit’s success now, in the hopes that we will get both transit and affordable housing at some point in the future, is a risk we just cannot take.

That being said, the fact that Nashville has not come up with a comprehensive affordable housing plan that will confront the overwhelming need this city has is incredibly disappointing. We need to hold our government representatives and business/community leaders accountable for this delinquency. If we can push through a transit plan with a price tag in the billions of dollars, we can come up with an affordable housing plan at a fraction of a fraction of that cost. Creating mass transit is only one battle we need to win to banish the inequities in Nashville’s current infrastructure. However, it is a critical first step.

Also, while we respect the opinions of those folks who have legitimate issues with the transit plan, we cannot respect the motivations behind the out-of- state interest groups funding the (Lee Beaman supported) campaign to kill the referendum. N4AOU faced these same people when they tried to pass English Only. Now, just like then, their goal is to stifle progress in this city. Now, just like then, most of their funding is coming from out-of- state interest groups with the help of a handful of locals. Now, just like then, they are misstating facts and trying to confuse voters. But, if you are tired of hearing different groups saying they’re right and others are wrong, you don’t have to listen to anyone’s opinion (theirs or ours). Go to the following link, read the transit plan, and decide for yourself: Transit Plan link.

When Nashville for All of Us was developing the white paper for equity and inclusion during the Nashville Next process, we talked to people who had trouble finding and keeping jobs and accessing necessary goods and services due to the lack of a mass transit system. One refugee who had been in the city just over a year was quoted in the report saying, “Not having a car is like not having feet.” If that was true six years ago when the report was created, imagine this city in the coming decades as it grows by hundreds of thousands of people.

The future is in your hands, Nashville. So, get out and vote!

Kenny Byrd
Mark Eatherly
Stephen Fotopulos
Tasha French Lemley
Mohamed-Shukri Issack Hassan
Dan Hogan
Tom Negri
Avi Poster
Randy Rayburn
Chris Sanders
Pat Shea
Renata Soto
David Taylor
Hedy Weinberg
Stephen Zralek

This statement is the opinion of the individuals listed above. Nashville for All of Us as a group has not taken a position on the transit vote.

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Vote for a welcoming Nashville on August 4

It is time once again to make your voices heard in support of a welcoming and inclusive Nashville!  Early voting is now taking place in the races for Mayor, Vice-Mayor, and Metro Council, and Election Day — August 4 — will be here soon.  These elections will help chart the course for our city’s future.  Use your votes in all of the races and keep Nashville a city in which every voice is heard!
Nashville For All of Us recently asked all of the candidates in Metro elections to join us in our commitment to ensure Nashville is a productive, just, and welcominig city where all residents are valued. We asked the candidates to affirm the following pledge:
As a candidate for the Nashville Metro Council, I pledge that I will support a Nashville that is built on shared values and aspirations; is committed to inclusivity, equality, and the ethical and moral treatment of all residents; encourages and values the contributions of all citizens; makes its services and benefits accessible to all; embraces every resident’s inherent worth and dignity; and encourages civil and respectful public discourse among its residents and their representatives.
 
We are pleased that these candidates have committed to supporting this vision for our city:
Candidate Office Incumbent (I) Candidate Office Incumbent (I)
Karl Dean Mayor I David Glasgow District 18
Diane Neighbors Vice Mayor I Erica Gilmore District 19 I
Megan Barry At-Large I Curt Wallen District 19
Renard Francois At-Large Buddy Baker District 20 I
Jerry Maynard At-Large I J. Gower Mills District 20
Donald Ray McFolin At-Large Mary Carolyn Roberts District 20
Don O’Donniley At-Large Seanna Brandmeir District 22
Ronnie Steine At-Large I Emily Evans District 23 I
Sajid W. Usmani At-Large Jason Holleman District 24 I
Lonnell Matthews, Jr. District 1 I Sarah Lodge Tally District 24
Frank Harrison District 2 I James Michael Kaminski District 25
DeCosta Hastings District 2 Sean McGuire District 25 I
Brady Banks District 4 Chris Harmon District 26
Eugene Batsuk District 4 Greg Dooley District 27
Scott Davis District 5 Travis Danker District 28
Priscilla Eaton District 5 Tanaka Vercher District 28
Dave Rich District 6 Arnett H. Bodenhamer District 29
Hans Schmidt District 6 Karen Y. Johnson District 29
Peter Westerholm District 6 Vicky Tataryn District 29
Anthony Davis District 7 Isaac Okoreeh-Baah District 29
Nancy VanReece District 8 Vivian Wilhoite District 29
Darren Jernigan District 11 I
Jason Potts
District 30
Steve Glover District 12 Fabian Bedne District 31
Anna Page District 16  I James Widrig District 31
Sandra Moore District 17 I Markeith Braden District 32
Burkley Allen District 18 Jacobia C. Dowell District 32
Carter Todd District 34 I
A “Nashville for All of Us” is not just a place to live, but a way of life for our city.  It is built on shared values and aspirations.  It is committed to inclusivity, equality, and the ethical and moral treatment of all Nashvillians.  It encourages and values the contributions of all residents to their community and makes its services and benefits accessible to all.  It embraces and defends all persons’ inherent dignity.  It is a vision that will be a reality when we all speak up.
Speak up for Nashville; speak up for all of us.  Get out and vote!
For more information on early voting and the August 4 election, please visit Nashville.gov.
Sincerely,
Nashville For All of Us Steering Committee Members:
Alistair Newbern, Chair
Stephen Fotopulos
Renata Soto
Krissa Barclay
Lisa Pote, Secretary
David Taylor
Kenny Byrd
Kathleen Murphy
Hedy Weinberg
Sonnye Dixon
Tom Negri
Anderson Williams
Mark Eatherly
Avi Poster
Stephen Zralek

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Silent march April 19 to mark 50-year anniversary of Looby bombing, march

Aprilteenth Silent March

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Stand Up against SB63

The Steering Committee of Nashville for All of Us (“N4AOU”) issues this statement to urge Tennesseans to stand up against Tennessee Senate Bill 63 and Tennessee House Bill 262 and any other efforts reminiscent of the English-Only Charter Amendment that was defeated last year in Nashville. Nashville voters made their voices heard that such “English-only” efforts undermine tourism and economic development and send the wrong message to and about our community.

We urge all members of the Tennessee General Assembly to vote no against these measures and other “English-only” efforts. We encourage N4AOU members, supporters and friends to voice their opposition to their representatives in the Tennessee legislature. Those interested can learn more about the SB63 and HB262 drivers test measures here.

Further information about N4AOU and its mission can be found at
http://www.nashvilleforallofus.org

Sincerely,

David Briley
Kenny Byrd
Sonnye Dixon
Mark Eatherly
Stephen Fotopulos
Dan Haskell
Tricia Hersfeld
John Lamb
Debby Dale Mason
Kathleen Murphy
Tom Negri
Alistair Newbern
Tom Oreck
Avi Poster
Lisa Pote
Floyd Shechter
Renata Soto
John Tighe
Hedy Weinberg
Stephen Zralek

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The new mission

Happy anniversary of the historic vote to end the battle over English Only!

On the heels of that victory in January 2009, many of us asked the question, “What’s next for Nashville for All of Us?

Quite simply, our work is not done! As a city with so much promise, Nashville must continue to “fight the good fight” to remain a welcoming community for all of its residents. Our work last year called us to instant action, which we took with great success. Now, we are in the unique position of remaining a collaboration of diverse voices that can continue the important conversations of our time.

To that end, the steering committee for Nashville for All of Us (N4AOU) has been working to establish a more formal structure through which to engage in our work on an ongoing basis. We are writing to inform you that N4AOU is transitioning to an organization with the following mission:

We are an independent, diverse community coalition that challenges each other’s perspectives and informs and shapes public policy to promote a productive, just and welcoming Nashville for all.

Please consider this letter an invitation to continue on as part of that community coalition. We hope that, with the continued input of the diverse voices that made our initial effort a victory, N4AOU can serve as a table to host the conversations necessary to identify and address new issues relating to prejudice and exclusion in our community.

First and foremost, however, we hope that you will bring your voice, your ideas, and your energy to these critical conversations and to continuing the work of Nashville for All of Us. If you are interested in being a part of the discussion of N4AOU’s next steps, please click here to complete the attached brief survey to let us know what issues currently faced by our community are important to you. Completing the survey should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes of your time.

If you prefer not to move forward with our new direction, simply click the “opt out” link at the bottom of any e-mail we send you, and we will remove you from our mailing list.

We hope you will join us in the discussion of N4AOU’s next steps and the continued conversations about the future of our shared community. We look forward to your participation as our work progresses.

Many thanks,

Stephen Zralek
Chair, Nashville for All of Us

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Mayor: Nashville’s defeat of English Only confirms that people feel welcome here, celebrate diversity

Mayor Karl Dean

Mayor Karl Dean

Mayor Karl Dean told the Nashville City Paper here what the defeat of English Only means to him:

“You always need to make sure people feel welcome in our city and our city celebrates diversity,” Dean said. “I would look at the English Only vote as the confirmation of that. I said at the time, we’re the only major American city that’s been tested in that way and we passed the test.

“So I’m pretty proud of the way our city responded.”

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NASHVILLE WINS

Photo of Nashville Parthenon © Chris Wage.  Used with permission.  www.chriswage.com

Photo of Nashville Parthenon © Chris Wage. Used with permission. http://www.chriswage.com

Voters side with two mayors, new Council to defeat English Only

An English Only proposal was defeated Thursday night in Nashville after over 40,000 voters stood up in opposition to the measure.  The rejection aligns Nashville’s voters with the current Metro Council, current Mayor Karl Dean, and Dean’s predecessor Bill Purcell.

Former Mayor Bill Purcell vetoed a similar measure when it came across his desk in 2007; current Mayor Karl Dean has vigorously opposed this year’s version; and the current Metro Council passed a resolution by a 3-1 margin urging Nashville voters not to sign the petition putting the measure on the ballot in the first place.

English Only was defeated tonight by a margin of 57-43%.  Amendment #2 failed by an even larger margin.  An unprecedented, citywide coalition formed in opposition to both measures.

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This is Election Day: Nashville is on world stage

Image by Rex Hammock.  Licensed via Creative Commons

Image by Rex Hammock. Licensed via Creative Commons

The Tennessean reports here that the world is watching Nashville, and in some cases sending camera crews here, to see how we handle English Only.

Vote today.

For more information visit the Vote page of the Nashville for All of Us web site.  If you have already voted, visit the Volunteer page and volunteer – this is your last day to do so.

The polls are open from 7am-7pm across town.  The Vote page has a link to your voting location.

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Deluge of opposition to English Only

Image by Alexandre Duret-Lutz.  Licensed via Creative Commons.

Image by Alexandre Duret-Lutz. Licensed via Creative Commons.

Even with approximately 70 posts to date, this blog has not reproduced all of the written opposition to English Only in Nashville, nor could it ever.  Because today is the day of the special election and the last day to vote, however, the best we can do with the “waiting list” of those comments, letters, columns, blog posts, other statements of support, and news that have so far gone unpublished here is to link to as much of them as we can in list form below.

Our apologies to those whose public statements and endorsements have not been included here – and there are many of you.  We know that everyone who has spoken out against the charter amendments in any context is a part of this effort.

Thank you! Continue reading

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Tears of joy at inauguration viewing, with support for Nashville for All of Us

buttonThis photo (4/16 in a Tennessean slideshow of local viewings of Tuesday’s inauguration) captures Nashvillian Thenita Jones in tears of joy at the Belcourt at the moment of the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Jones is wearing two inauguration buttons and also a Nashville for All of Us button.

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Today is Election Day – VOTE

ivotedVote today!  For more information visit the Vote page of the Nashville for All of Us web site.  If you have already voted, visit the Volunteer page and volunteer – this is your last day to do so.

The polls are open from 7am-7pm across town.  The Vote page has a link to your voting location.

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Laura Creekmore: it is hard to make a case for a charter change undone by its own exceptions

Laura Creekmore

Laura Creekmore

Laura Creekmore asks in this post about the logic of adopting a charter provision that could be unraveled by its exceptions:

I love the last sentence: Nothing shall be interpreted to conflict with federal or state law. Well, it does conflict… Can I start by saying that a charter amendment that has to contradict itself to comply with federal or state law is, on its face, a bad idea?

I’m assuming that if this amendment passes, the Metro Council will pass requisite “health and safety” provisions as indicated. So that cops and Metro General Hospital employees will still be able to speak to people in Spanish or any other language they see fit. Isn’t that crazy, though? We have to pass legislation to allow cops to speak to people in their own language? So that your doctor can talk to you about your medical history? When we have to make exceptions to our new charter amendment to protect public health and safety, it’s a bad idea.

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Realtors: entire Middle Tennessee area threatened by English Only

gnarThe Greater Nashville Association of Realtors (GNAR)  raises the possibility of harm beyond Nashville if English Only passes.  The statement, on GNAR letterhead, is here and is also reproduced below:

STATEMENT CONCERNING “ENGLISH ONLY”

The Greater Nashville Association of Realtors announces that it is encouraging its members who live in Davidson County and all Davidson County voters to defeat the “English Only” initiative.

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Rodney Beard: more English classes, not English Only

Rodney Beard

Rodney Beard

Rodney Beard of Living Word Community Church speaks out against English Only in this post on Faith Leaders for All of Us:

I love Nashville! I also understand the frustration surrounding local immigration issues and have even shared some popular sentiments a time or two. But I cannot, in good conscience, support the English Only initiative.

Wouldn’t the money we spend fighting this be better spent by providing more English as Second Language classes in our schools, churches and community centers?

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Mary Bufwack: withholding interpreters more expensive than providing them

Mary Bufwack

Mary Bufwack

Mary Bufwack, Ph.D., CEO of United Neighborhood Health Services, wrote in the Tennessean that the cost of providing interpreters is relatively low, but withholding them can be expensive:

Language barriers have resulted in the wrong diagnosis, the wrong medications, unnecessary hospitalizations and in one emergency case, permanent disability.

But the danger of a lack of language services does not only result in poor health care and harm to the individual unable to speak English. Entire communities can be put at risk.

By purchasing language services in bulk, all providers, no matter how large or small the volume, have access to high quality services at affordable rates. All native languages can be served, not just those that are common.

Language services are essential for an effective and high quality public health and health-care delivery system. In Nashville we need language policies that support the continued development of these services.

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Conservative Vandy blogger sympathetic to English but not to Nashville’s amendment

Mike Warren

Mike Warren

Conservative Vanderbilt journalist and former editor of the Vanderbilt Hustler Mike Warren writes on Vandy Right that he would otherwise be sympathetic to the idea of English-oriented legislation, but Nashville’s version is too shoddy:

The verdict? I hate to say no to an initiative I morally agree with, but the shoddiness of the language (no pun intended) in the actual referendum means the folks in support should go back to drawing board.

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Second Presbyterian votes to oppose English Only

secondpresThe governing body of the Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville has voted to oppose English Only.  From the Church’s statement published on Faith Leaders for All of Us:

The “English only” requirement does not acknowledge the linguistic diversity that has always characterized the U.S. (the result of many factors, including voluntary migration, conquest, employment policies, and compassion toward refugees) and continues today.

Furthermore it does not manifest the hospitality toward immigrants and refugees that we have every reason to expect in our public and private life.

We urge the citizens of Nashville to vote No on Amendment One.

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Tennessean takes position: reject English Only

tennessean“It is sad that these voices have had to be raised”

The Tennessean daily newspaper has taken a position against English Only.  Here is an excerpt:

Many public officials and civic leaders have criticized the English-only campaign. But in the end, it is sad that these voices have had to be raised just to make the case that Nashville is a tolerant city.

Nashville should want the world to know it is a diverse, welcoming city. An English-only amendment does not send that signal. Voters should reject the proposals that appear on the ballot starting today.

Read the entire editorial here.

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NewsChannel5: more ballot measures if Amendment #2 passes

NewsChannel5 reports here on two aspects of Amendment #2 that would likely lead to more ballot measures: a lower threshold and provisions allowing greater frequency. Here is an excerpt:

The second charter amendment would allow someone who wants an issue on the ballot to collect signatures of just 1 percent of Davidson County registered voters. Right now, signatures from 10 percent of voters who voted in the previous election are needed and those numbers vary.

If it passes, voters could potentially have a special election once a year.

The full story is here.

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Tennessean of the Year Bob Fisher on record against English Only

Bob Fisher

Bob Fisher

Bob Fisher, president of Belmont University, was named Tennessean of the Year by the Tennessean newspaper.  Here is an excerpt from the story:

Largely, thanks to his leadership in bringing the state’s first-ever presidential debate to Belmont, Fisher now has another accolade to add to the walls — or the floor, as will probably happen: the 2008 Tennessean of the Year, as determined by readers and The Tennessean’s editorial board.

Fisher is one of nine local university presidents who signed a joint statement in opposition to the English Only charter amendment.

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Nashvillian of the Year Gregg Ramos opposes English Only

Gregg Ramos

Gregg Ramos

Gregg Ramos, part of Nashville for All of Us, has been named Nashvillian of the Year by the Nashville Scene.  Here is an excerpt from the cover story:

On the eve of this city-defining election, the Scene is proud to recognize Gregg Ramos as its 2008 Nashvillian of the Year.

Now here’s the surprise: That’s not why Ramos gets the honor. Not entirely, anyway. If fighting English Only were all it took to be Nashvillian of the Year, we’d quickly (and gladly) use up the city’s reserves of trophies, plaques and engraving. The coalition gathering against the amendment can be said to encompass three basic groups: those with the most, those with the least, and those in the middle. Their ranks include university presidents and college custodians; pastors of every denomination and their parishioners; the mighty Chamber of Commerce and little-funded neighborhood organizations. Not for nothing is their broad movement affiliated under the name Nashville for All of Us.

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WPLN asks, Is English Only worth it?

wpln1Nashville Public Radio WPLN digs deeper into the practical impact of English Only in this story.  Here is an excerpt:

A proposal to amend Metro Government’s founding document and make English the sole language for city business could cause sweeping changes in nearly every department. Or, it could not. No one really knows, which has made the campaign for and against the charter amendment difficult. There are no lists of what would change if the English-only measure passes a referendum vote. WPLN’s Blake Farmer explains.

Audio for this feature is available here.

REPORTER: “Is it worth it?”

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Yard signs available at HQ only

yardsign3001

Yard signs are now available at campaign headquarters only. Headquarters is located at 1814 Church Street, Nashville, 37203 (former Ronnie Steine office, next to Budget Rent-a-car).

The building, also known as “Against HQ,” will be open every day between now and Election Day, January 22 – less than one week away.

Click here for a Google Map

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: 1pm – 6pm

For a few minutes, the Nashville for All of Us web site incorrectly said the signs were “sold out,” but they are still available for pickup at HQ.  Home delivery, however, is no longer available.

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First ladies take symbolic walk to early vote against English Only

firstladies-sm

(L-R) Andrea Conte, Martha Cooper, Anne Davis

Andrea Conte, Martha Cooper, and Anne Davis, the wives of Governor Phil Bredesen, U.S. Representative Jim Cooper, and Mayor Phil Bredesen, respectively, walked from the Metro Courthouse to the Election Commission earlier this week to show their opposition to English Only and early vote against amendments #1 and #2.  Here is an excerpt from the Tennessean story:

Andrea Conte and Anne Davis, the first ladies of Tennessee and Nashville, respectively, walked almost two miles with supporters from the Metro Courthouse downtown along Second Avenue to the Davidson County Election Commission offices at the Metro Office Building.

They were joined by Martha Cooper, wife of U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville. Cooper has already cast his vote against it. He was out of town and couldn’t vote with the governor and mayor.

They cast early votes against the English-only amendment.

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Seigenthaler hosts live discussion on Nashville Public Television

seigenthaler

John Seigenthaler

Journalism icon John Seigenthaler will host a live discussion of English Only tonight at 7pm on Nashville Public Television.  From the NPT media update:

Updated. 3:09 p.m. Wednesday, January 14, 2009. Eric Crafton’s office has confirmed that the council member will NOT be part of this live show. This show, scaled down to a half-hour, will still include Seigenthaler and Briley and a discussion of the issues involving the referendum. Should he reconsider and decide to join us, Crafton is still welcome.

Update: 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, January 14, 2009. Nashville attorney David Briley will represent Nashville For All Of Us, a broad coalition opposed to ratifying the measure. Referendum architect Eric Crafton, Metro council member, District 22, remains scheduled to represent those who support it.

Davidson County voters go to the polls on January 22 to vote for or against ratifying a controversial English language referendum. Proponents from both sides of the referendum (those for it call it “English-first;” those against it call it “English-only”) will defend their positions, and viewers will have a chance to call in with their own questions, when moderator John Seigenthaler hosts Perspectives: The English Language Referendum, live from NPT’s Studio A this Friday night, January 16, at 7:00 p.m.on NPT. You can start submitting your questions now by sending them to question@wnpt.net.

Meanwhile, the referendum has made national news, appearing in Sunday’s New York Times. As of this posting, it was the third most e-mailed U.S. news story and had almost 70 comments.

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Nashville for All of Us files financial disclosures

speakup3

Nashville for All of Us has filed its pre-election financial disclosures.  The Tennessean and Channel 4 were among the first to report the results, which feature a total raised so far of $286,025.  Individual donors include Mayor Karl Dean and Fire Chief Steve Halford, and corporate donors include Vanderbilt, Gaylord, and HCA.  Here is an excerpt from the Channel 4 report:

“The majority of the contributions though came from individuals, and a lot of them were $25, $10, $100, $250, which is what you want to see in a campaign,” said Mike Kopp, who represents Nashville For All of Us.

All disclosure forms were due at the election commission by 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

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Long list of Belmont University educators opposes English Only

belmont

Educators at Belmont University have issued an open letter opposing English Only, with the list of the staff and faculty signing the letter running 10-1/2 pages long.  Here are excerpts:

[W]e join our university’s president, Dr. Robert Fisher and the presidents of Nashville’s other universities, in standing against the English Only initiative. We oppose the measure because we believe the initiative will serve to diminish the opportunities for broadening our students’ perspective, which our community now offers in abundance. We believe that the measure and the message its adoption would send to the rest of the world will create a culturally impoverished environment in our city. We are concerned that it will damage our economy by making it much more challenging for our city to attract global investment and to welcome international visitors.

On this issue, we cannot help but be reminded of the admonition to welcome charitably the strangers and to treat them as our own native born (Leviticus 19:33-34) and to practice hospitality as Paul urged the early Christian communities to do (Romans 12:9-13). In our view, by placing barriers to the ability of our visitors to participate in our community, especially when they are first arrived and not yet proficient in our language, the English Only measure is both uncharitable and inhospitable.

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Dr. Ming Wang: English Only is “divisive, totally unnecessary, ridiculous”

Dr. Ming Wang

Dr. Ming Wang

Speaking to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce about investment in China, Dr. Ming Wang of Nashville took the opportunity to voice his opposition to English Only, calling it “divisive, totally unnecessary,” and “ridiculous,” according to P.J. Tobia on the Nashville Scene blog.  Here is an excerpt of Tobia’s report, in which Wang speaks with derision of the business effect of rules like English Only:

Wang also turned the table on the business types assembled and asked, “Would you still be motivated to invest and do business in China if tomorrow the Chinese government declared that all business could only be conducted in Chinese? Of course not. That would be stupid.”

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Governor Bredesen joins Mayor Dean in voting against English Only

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen joined Nashville Mayor Karl Dean to vote against English Only on Monday.

Speaking to a group of reporters including NewsChannel5, Bredesen said that the measure would hurt business recruiting and tourism in Nashville.

Mayor Dean said Nashville’s future depends on international businesses and visitors.

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Nathan Moore: cutting languages could cost Metro $250 million

Nathan Moore

Nathan Moore

Conservative attorney Nathan Moore reports here that cutting anything more than $495 of Metro government’s $110,000 annual bill for telephonic language assistance would cause Metro to lose $250 million of federal money:

As Councilman Crafton agreed at the debate on Tuesday, Metro spends $110,000.00 per year on our AT&T translation service. When Metro needs translation, they dial into this service, and the government is charged a per minute rate for its use (as in, there are not armies of interpreters in various languages sitting around in Metro government drawing salary – physical interpreters are largely only found in the Health Department and the courts).

Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (along with Executive Order 13166) determines that any local government department receiving federal funds must provide its services in multiple languages, because the law says we cannot disciminate against individuals based on national origin.

Here is the useage breakdown of Metro’s interpretation services (these numbers were provided to me by the mayor’s office)

Health                                    41.71%
Police / Sheriff                       33.13%
Juvenile / Courts                     7.95%
Metro Water                             6.62%
General Hospital/Bordeaux      9.43%
Nashville Career Advis.            0.71%

All of the above departments receive Title VI funds. The total is 99.55%. It appears I was more than generous with my previous estimate of 97%. This means that the passage of English Only could only affect 0.045% of the money spent, which means that Metro would save $495 per year. Or, we could just give back $250 million in federal funds each year.

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Stand for Children opposes English Only

Director Francie Hunt

Director Francie Hunt

“From my personal experience, immigrants are more than willing to learn more languages and are eager for assimilation. It’s a process and no law can speed that up.”

The Nashville chapter of Stand for Children has voted to oppose English Only, and Director Francie Hunt issued this statement to the Tennessean.  Here are excerpts:

Our chapter felt strongly that it was harmful to children and to our community to pass a law that restricts communication. In a world rife with conflict, limiting our means to connect, collaborate and protect each other is a terrible example for our young people and with dangerous consequences.

At family gatherings, I long to understand my mother’s tongue just as my mother once longed for me to assimilate into American culture when she first arrived. Passing punitive legislation will not make Nashville more “comfortable” with non-English speakers and it won’t inspire immigrants to learn English any more than the motivation it took to get here in the first place. From my personal experience, immigrants are more than willing to learn more languages and are eager for assimilation. It’s a process and no law can speed that up.

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Filed under Stewardship, The importance of learning English

African-Americans, immigrants, others form coalition to oppose English Only

Patricia Stokes

Patricia Stokes

English Only “diminishes the value of individuals”

The Tennessean reports here that a group of African-Americans, immigrants, and others has formed to oppose English Only and held a recent press conference explaining their opposition.  Here is an excerpt:

“It is wrong morally because it diminishes the value of individuals and it speaks against the principles of liberty for all,” said Patricia Stokes, president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee.

Rep. Brenda Gilmore

Rep. Brenda Gilmore

Another excerpt:

State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, a former councilwoman who is Erica Gilmore’s mother, said the passage of the charter amendment would look strange to the rest of the world after the election of Barack Obama, an African-American.

“We cannot afford to send a message that Nashville and Tennessee is out of step with the rest of the country,” she said.

The Tennessean article lists the following groups as being part of the joint effort: the Urban League, the NAACP, the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship and the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition.

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iPhone and iPod touch users: Nashville for All of Us for your Home Screen

n4aicon1iPhone and iPod touch users: update your Home Sreen with a new custom icon for the Nashville for All of Us home page.

Here’s an explanation of how it works, courtesy of The Unofficial Apple Weblog:

If you’re using version 1.1.3 of the iPhone or iPod touch-with-January-2008-Upgrade, you’ll probably encountered Web Clips. Web Clips add home screen icons that lead to your favorite sites. It’s easy enough to make Web Clips, just tap the “+” button at the bottom of any MobileSafari webpage and choose Add to Home Screen from the pop-up menu…

Before this weekend, if you added NashvilleforAllofUs.org to your Home Screen, you would have created an illegibly tiny screenshot of the site as your icon. Now, you will see the official Nashville for All of Us logo.

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Angie Harris: specifics of English Only are “unclear”

Angie Harris

Angie Harris

Proscribing the Nashville Metro government to English only in all of its official communications is a questionable initiative from a governance standpoint. The vague verbiage of the amendment gives the impression that it is intended to be applied as broadly as possible regarding government communication — the specifics of its application to policy are unclear.

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Campaign headquarters is open

Map to HQ

Map to HQ

Nashville for All of Us is proud to announce the opening of our campaign office:

1814 Church Street, Nashville, 37203
(former Ronnie Steine office, next to Budget Rent-a-car)
Google Map

The building, also known as “Against HQ,” will be the primary phonebanking and canvassing location. We’ll be open every day between now and Election Day, January 22 – less than two weeks away!

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: 1pm – 6pm

We will continue to phonebank at the Davidson County Democratic Party office (95 White Bridge Rd, Suite #412, Nashville, 37205) each weekday between 10am and 6pm. Feel free to use that location if it is more convenient. Each location has 10 cellular phones that you can use, first come first served.

Click here to sign up for shifts. Someone will call you to confirm your shift and make sure you know where to go.

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Filed under About Nashville for All of Us, Action

Ralph Schulz: businesses already asking if Nashville is “xenophobic place”

Ralph Schulz

Ralph Schulz

In todays’ front-page NewYorkTimes.com article about English Only, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce President Ralph J. Schulz reports, “Businesses from outside Nashville have been calling and saying, ‘Is Nashville a xenophobic place?’

Schulz had previously told the Tennessean in this editorial that English Only would “weaken Nashville’s business environment,” and Schulz was quoted in this earlier story describing English Only as “the antithesis of hospitality.”

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Yard signs available!

Added by Carol Hamlett to <a href=

Sign up to receive a yard sign at http://yardsigns.nashvilleforallofus.org

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Nashville City Paper: English Only is “terribly inexact”

citypaper300

The Nashville City Paper editorial board states here that the most glaring flaw of the proposed English Only amendment is its inexact wording, which makes it unpredictable:

Yet, there are even more basic reasons to be against the English Only initiative. It is a poorly proposed law because it is terribly inexact. Put simply, Metro government leaders from the police to the water department have no idea how this law would impact the services they provide because of the measure’s incredibly vague wording.

There is a veritable minefield of unintended consequences from this proposed law.

There are many reasons to vote against English Only. Perhaps the best one is that as laws go, this one is poorly thought out and the potential result is something no one can predict or know.

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Councilman Jim Hodge: Amendment #2 “contrary to good government”

Councilman Jim Hodge

Councilman Jim Hodge

Councilman Jim Hodge sent out an e-mail urging a vote against both amendments in the upcoming special election.  Michael Cass of the Tennessean has the full story here.  Here is an excerpt:

The second charter amendment will, I fear, result in yearly special elections like this one in January, which is costing us about $300,000.  Since we already have elections every two years, I can not justify such extra expenses in good conscience.  It appears to me to be a bad and expensive policy, which is contrary to good government operations.

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Filed under Amendment #2, Stewardship

Soo Yang: English Only would make Metro “less efficient and less competent”

Soo Yang

Soo Yang

Soo Yang expresses concern here that English Only would have an adverse effect on Metro government:

Even those who support the English-Only measure admit the demands for government services in foreign languages are increasing. Rather than working to meet the demand, however, those who support the amendment irrationally claim the increase in demand for services in foreign languages is wrong and dangerous. By demonizing and working against these demographic trends, the pro-amendment campaign is making the city government less efficient and less competent in resolving critical issues such as illegal immigration.

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Sarah Moore: “My children will be fine” without English Only

Sarah Moore

Sarah Moore

“The threat of another language eventually taking control is just silly.”

Sarah Moore disputes in this post that there is any threat to the English language that would be addressed by English Only.  Here are excerpts:

Of course, English should be the language in which government and business is done in Nashville. And, guess what? It is! The threat of another language eventually taking control is just silly. Every immigrant who comes to our great city desiring a better life wants to learn English.

I want my children to grow up in a thriving metropolitan area that embraces all cultures and peoples. I also want them to read their ballots in English the first time they go to vote and be able to speak up in Metro Council meetings that are conducted in English. If English Only fails, as it should, my children will be fine on all counts.

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Filed under Stewardship, The importance of learning English

Katherine Coble: “I don’t get this tea party version of America”

Katherine Coble

Katherine Coble

Katherine Coble explains her opposition to English Only in this post.  Here is an excerpt:

I don’t quite get this tea party version of America some people have, where we have to have dress codes and codes of conduct that limit the individuality and freedom of citizens. I don’t get this version of America where some people think the things they like and enjoy should become codified while the things other people like and enjoy should become illegal. “America” doesn’t mean “I should get to boss you around because I was here first/have more money.” “America” means that you get to enjoy the pursuit of happiness through most means.

Hat tip: Kleinheider

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Filed under Freedom, Stewardship

Rev. Dennis J. Meaker: English Only “strikes at the heart of what we profess to believe”

Rev. Dennis J. Meaker

Rev. Dennis J. Meaker

Rev. Dennis J. Meaker of the West Nashville United Methodist Church published this message regarding the significance of the English Only referendum from the perspective of the Christian scriptures.  Here is an excerpt:

The biblical command to extend hospitality is not limited to those of our faith. It is particularly ironic, however, that self-professed Christians are so willing to exclude their brothers and sisters in Christ by reinforcing the barrier of language. As noted in 1 John 4:20-21:

“Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”

By the time you read this article, early voting will be open in Davidson County. The English-only referendum is not a political issue that the church is supposed to avoid. It strikes at the heart of what we profess to believe. As you go to vote, and please do vote, remember Christ is present in every person around us, even those who do not speak English.

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Filed under Faith, Hospitality

Former Chief Justice A.A. Birch votes against both amendments

Chief Justice A.A. Birch

Chief Justice A.A. Birch

Former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice A.A. Birch has voted against English Only and Amendment #2, according to this article in the Nashville City Paper.  This is an excerpt:

Among those who arrived to vote Friday were former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice A.A. Birch…

Birch told The City Paper that he voted against both charter amendment proposals, but did not elaborate beyond that.

Hat tip: Kleinheider

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Video features Mayor, others on English Only

youtubeIn this YouTube video published on the home page of Nashville for All of Us, a number of Nashvillians say why they are voting against English Only, including Mayor Karl Dean, Bishop David Choby, Anastasia Brown, Tom Oreck, Rev. Sonnye Dixon, and Buck Dozier.

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Filed under Faith, Hospitality, Stewardship

Early voting runs January 2-17

speakup

Early voting has begun and will end January 17.  Your vote counts – click here for information from Nashville for All of Us about early voting days and times.

Speak Up Nashville!

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Alan Valentine: Amendment #2 threatens Symphony

Alan Valentine

Alan Valentine

Alan Valentine, President/CEO of the Nashville Symphony, urged board members to vote against both charter amendments, citing a threat to the Symphony itself.  Michael Cass of the Tennessean has the whole story here.  This is an excerpt:

“Amendment Two: This would make it much easier to make changes to the Metro Charter (like English Only) by drastically lowering the number of signatures required to bring such amendments onto a ballot. This would make our city’s governing charter subject to special interests, and this could be done as often as once a year. This amendment would reduce the effectiveness of our Metro Government and weaken our stable business environment.  And, BTW, the City of Nashville is **required** by the terms of the City Charter to provide annual financial support to the Nashville Symphony (yes, we are mentioned by name in the Charter); if this measure succeeds, you can be sure that some group of people who do not value our city’s cultural institutions will seek to remove that requirement from the Charter, not long after this measure passes.

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Filed under Amendment #2, Hospitality, Stewardship, Testimonials

Metro departments don’t know where English Only will cut their programs

nashvilleseal1The Nashville City Paper asked Metro departments how they would be affected by English Only, and no one knew what would happen to their (sometimes prize-winning) secondary-language communications.  Here is an excerpt:

Voters unsure of how they will vote on the English Only referendum at the Jan. 22 special election might be interested to find out that Metro departments don’t know how the charter amendment proposal would tangibly change the way they do business.

From Metro Water to Public Works to Metro Nashville Public Schools, department after department has told The City Paper that the English Only proposal is too vaguely worded to predict its effect.

Even the leader of Nashville English First, the group pushing the charter amendment, said there could be unintended consequences if the proposal passes on Jan. 22.

Police runs a program called El Protector, which uses Spanish-speaking officers to do proactive outreach and education on key issues like how to access emergency services. El Protector also educates the Nashville immigrant community on drunk driving and domestic violence laws.

El Protector has become successful enough that it will be recognized as an exemplary program by the Vera Institute of Justice at the beginning of the year, according to Aaron.

It’s against that backdrop that Police are left wondering whether El Protector would violate the Metro Charter if English Only were to pass.

The full story is here.

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David Briley: opposing English Only “important to me and our City”

David Briley

David Briley

Former mayoral candidate David Briley stressed the importance of opposing English Only in an e-mail to his supporters, reproduced here by Michael Cass of the Tennessean.  This is an excerpt:

I have not written you since the 2007 election but I am writing now to ask you to get involved in an issue that is important to me and our City.  I am asking you to Vote Against the English Only ballot referendum that will be held on January 22. Personally, I oppose English Only for many reasons…

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Evans Donnell: English Only a “black eye”

Evans Donnell

Evans Donnell

Evans Donnell has called English Only a “black eye” for Nashville:

[I]t will be costly to taxpayers (it already is if you consider spending six figures for a special election) and it will be a business and tourism “black eye” for Nashville.

The full post is here.

Hat tip: Kleinheider

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