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.”
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.
Filed under About Nashville for All of Us, Action, Amendment #2, Faith, Freedom, Hospitality, Litigation, Safety, Stewardship, Terminology, Testimonials, The importance of learning English, Who brought this to Nashville?
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list” of those comments, letters, columns, blog posts, other statements of support, and news that have so far gone unpublished here is to link to as much of them as we can in list form below.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
Filed under About Nashville for All of Us, Action, Faith, Freedom, Hospitality, Litigation, Safety, Stewardship, Terminology, Testimonials, The importance of learning English, Who brought this to Nashville?
The 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.
“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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
In 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.
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.
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…
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
Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr.
Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr. calls English Only a “step backwards.” The Tennessean‘s Michael Cass has the whole story here. Here is an excerpt:
We are considering discriminating AGAINST peoples’ culture and nationality with this proposed amendment. At a time when our nation has shown tremendous growth by electing the first President of African Descent, we can not afford to take steps backwards.
Hat tip: Kleinheider
Mayor Karl Dean
Mayor Karl Dean is “strongly against” both charter amendments. The Tennessean‘s Michael Cass has the whole story here. Here are excerpts:
I am strongly against these charter amendments and I want you to join me in voting against English Only and Amendment No. 2.
First, let me explain what the English Only amendment is not. It is not a vote on immigration reform and it is not a harmless message to office holders. The proposed charter amendment will have absolutely no effect upon efforts to curtail illegal immigration or to reform current national policy. Rather than permitting voters to send a message to the government, the referendum alters our charter in a way that will create legal, political, social and even moral consequences for years to come.
To me, it is the antithesis of hospitality and an unnecessary drain on taxpayer resources. The issue is divisive and will distract us from doing those things that will help us realize our potential as not just a great American city, but a great international city.
Stephen Zralek, interviewed by the Nashville Business Journal as a “Rising Star,” was asked, “What does Nashville need to help retain and attract top young talent?” This was his answer:
First, to remain multilingual. Nashville is full of creative people from all over the world. We need to defeat the “English Only” measure because it’s wrong. It’s bad for our economy, and it sends the wrong signal about our city.
The interview is here.
“As academic leaders, we are concerned about the impact – literal and symbolic – on our mission”
The presidents of nine of Nashville’s most respected institutions of higher learning – Aquinas, American Baptist, Belmont, Fisk, Lipscomb,
Meharry, TSU, Trevecca and Vanderbilt – submitted the following joint statement to The Tennessean in opposition to English Only:
In just a few short days, county residents will go to the polls to decide the fate of the “English-only” amendment that has been proposed for our Metro Charter.
This is not the first time that this proposal has been before the democratic processes in our county. A previous attempt to enact this legislation was halted by the courageous veto of former Mayor Bill Purcell. We have also seen current Mayor Karl Dean stand firm in his opposition. Both of these leaders saw the passage of this legislation not only as unnecessary but as damaging to Nashville.
It is especially important that the higher education community in Nashville be heard on this issue. It is the obligation of institutions of higher education to help their communities think critically about important issues of public policy, especially when the policies have a deep and lasting impact on these communities.
Read more here or at the original Tennessean link. Continue reading
Charles W. Bone
“You can’t imagine how many CEOs I’ve spoken with who say they would have chosen to relocate to another city had this proposal been enacted when they came to Nashville.”
On behalf of Nashville law firm Bone McAllester Norton PLLC, Charles W. Bone issued this statement in opposition to English Only:
Our attorneys have decided that our firm should be on record to oppose the English Only charter amendment that is on the ballot in Davidson County in January. As such, we are the first law firm to publicly denounce the English Only measure, which makes me very proud.
Nashville is a world-class city that speaks many languages. We are a center of learning, government, religion, business and entertainment. English Only hurts Nashville’s values of stewardship, safety, tolerance and hospitality, not to mention our economy. You can’t imagine how many CEOs I’ve spoken with who say they would have chosen to relocate to another city had this proposal been enacted when they came to Nashville. Continue reading
Coalition for Education about Immigration
The Nashville-based Coalition for Education about Immigration (CEI) has launched its web site at http://educationaboutimmigration.com/
CEI explains its origins here:
In 2006 anti-immigration rhetoric was intensifying in the Nashville community. Myths and misconceptions about immigrants and immigration along with corresponding vitriolic conversations seemed to be proliferating on national and local radio talk shows. An idea that originated in the Community Relations Committee (CRC) of the Jewish Federation in 2006 expanded to a series of exploratory meetings with immigrant advocates, including members of Conexión Americas and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). Discussions that ensued led to the formation of the Coalition for Education about Immigration (CEI). From the onset, the founding members of CEI believe that when provided with accurate information, the Nashville community will draw reasonable, educated conclusions of their own. What began with a concern of a half dozen community members grew, in a short time, to a grassroots membership of nearly 300 individuals and more than a dozen loosely affiliated organizations.
CEI has also published this PDF with background information on English Only.
Conservative husband-and-wife bloggers Nathan and Sarah Moore are writing that English Only is unconservative:
Ah yes, half a million dollars to potentially pass a nonsensical law. Why don’t we pass a referendum against quartering troops in peace time, or one that declares slavery illegal. Maybe even get so bold as to lobby that half a million dollars be spent on classes teaching English to immigrants.
Why should the taxpayers of Nashville pay $300,000 for a special election on January 22 simply to send a message to immigrants letting them know that they are not welcome here? That’s great for business and our place in the global economy!! Of course immigrants should learn English. Integration into our English-language society is best for everyone involved. But, why should we purposefully make the process difficult for them, especially when English is safely written into state law as our language?
Come on, conservatives! Let’s send a message that we really are opposed to government waste, both in terms of money and unnecessary laws. Vote against English Only next month. It will be a step in the right direction that we desperately need.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean
From the Tennessean:
Nashville business leaders should take up the fight against a proposed city charter amendment that would declare English the official language of the city and ban the city government from providing services in any other language, Mayor Karl Dean told Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday.
Speaking at a gathering of members of the chamber’s Partnership 2010 economic-development initiative, Dean said that requiring the city to stick to English in all of its dealings would “negatively impact” efforts to lure foreign companies to the city.
“I’m opposed [to the amendment],” the mayor said. “It is the antithesis of hospitality and a drain on our resources.”
Read more here.
From a letter to the editor of the Tennessean:
I find it a little hard to imagine that Tennessee has become so homogenized it wants to spend the money to have an “English only” ballot. It seem a sharp contrast to the foundation and makeup that comprises our country. I really don’t think that Emma Lazarus omitted in her poem engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free” (but let them only speak and read English).
Read more here.
The Executive Committee of the League for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Ear Foundation has joined Nashville for All of Us. The committee issued this statement:
As the leadership of an organization that works closely with hundreds of men, women, and children who interact through interpreters, we oppose the characterization of interpreting services as a burden and would not want to see Nashville become a community in which diverse methods of communication are viewed with suspicion.
The Nashville Peace and Justice Center was featured in this Channel 5 story for reaching out to local residents about English Only:
The small group of volunteers hopes to make a big difference one phone call at a time.
“To alienate any group of human beings is completely wrong,” said Krystal Kinnunen-Harris.
“Nashville doesn’t need to be a place of persecution,” said Stephen Mallett.
Read the story and watch the video here.
Phil Michal Thomas recently appeared in the “Tennessee Voices” section of the Tennessean and had this to say about English Only:
Nashville’s economy has grown, with several foreign-owned businesses opening offices…. If this charter amendment is passed, not only will it be unlawful to transact official business in a foreign language, it may also jeopardize the existence of the larger employers.
Has Davidson County considered the legal ramifications of passing this “English-only” initiative in regard to Title VI or Title VII? Can we afford losing a vast amount of federal funding due to being in clear violation of the federal statutes? The election is already costing taxpayers at least $300,000.
Read the entire piece here.
The Nashville City Paper interviewed Ann Gillespie of ProLingua and asked her about English Only:
“I do not foresee a Nashville community that would stand by and allow immigrant neighbors struggling with English to be denied help because they couldn’t learn the language at the snap of the councilman’s fingers,” she said.
Read the full article here.