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list” of those comments, letters, columns, blog posts, other statements of support, and news that have so far gone unpublished here is to link to as much of them as we can in list form below.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?
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.
The 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.
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…
“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
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.
National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators
The National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) and the Tennessee Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators (TAPIT) sent a letter to Mayor Karl Dean in which they strongly oppose English Only. Here are excerpts:
We strongly oppose the Nashville charter amendment because it is a dangerous and misguided initiative. Proposals of this type can, and have created severe and confusing barriers, not only for limited-English proficient (LEP) individuals, but also for government officials, resulting in denial of equal access, equal protection, and basic human rights.
We in NAJIT and TAPIT work daily with speakers of other languages, and we know that most of them have a strong and sincere desire to communicate in English. They do not willfully avoid speaking English out of stubbornness or spite; they recognize the value of being able to converse with the broader society in its own language. If this initiative passed, Nashville will be the only major city in our country to have an English-only law. It is unfortunate that those pushing for this divisive ballot measure have not focused their energies on the creation of better facilities and opportunities for learning English.