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list” of those comments, letters, columns, blog posts, other statements of support, and news that have so far gone unpublished here is to link to as much of them as we can in list form below.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?
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.
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?
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.
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)
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.
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.