Saturday, January 24, 2009

English Only in Nashville, TN, A waste of taxpayer money or Anti Immigrant measurement?

This is the proposed English only Amendment:


“English is the official language of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. Official actions, which bind or commit the government, shall be taken only in the English language, and all official government communications and publications shall be in English. No person shall have a right to government services in any other language. All meetings of the Metro Council, Boards, and Commissions of the Metropolitan Government shall be conducted in English. The Metro Council may make specific exceptions to protect public health and safety. Nothing in this measure shall be interpreted to conflict with federal or state lawIn the same week President Barack Obama championed the country for being shaped by every language and culture, Nashville voters today will head to the polls to decide whether their Metro government will conduct its business in only one language — English.

This is the current Tennessee Acts of 1984, ch. 821, § 1.]":

English is hereby established as the official and legal language of Tennessee. All communications and publications, including ballots, produced by governmental entities in Tennessee shall be in English, and instruction in the public schools and colleges of Tennessee shall be conducted in English unless the nature of the course would require otherwise.

Seems to me that Mr. Eric Crafton has some problem on understanding the Law because he breaks the law by not reporting donors as required by LAW. What's Mr. Crafton try to accomplish? embarrasement? waste of taxpayers money? Political power? or being recognized as Anti Immigrant? but he is not facing the real problems of his own Budget deficit were the Emergency response are under staffing. This a clearly action to bashing Hispanics, Latinos out Nashville, TN.

That Mr. Crafton Understand that residents, Legal and undocumented even foreign Investors, tourists could die due to this amendment?. A non-English speaking immigrant who calls 911 for an emergency may NOT get access to a bilingual operator
or a Doctor when they call for save their or other lifes..!!!!

The English Only special election brings to a head an issue that’s been hovering over Music City since 2007 when Metro Council passed an ordinance which was ultimately vetoed by former Mayor Bill Purcell.

English Only proposes to make English the official language of Metro, while also stating individuals have no right to services in other languages. It offers the provision that Metro Council may make exceptions for health and safety purposes, but Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act already mandates most local government offices must offer their services to all citizens.

Metro’s major departments have repeatedly said they have virtually no idea the impact the charter amendment proposal would have, if it were to pass.

The primary champion of English Only has been Eric Crafton, a Metro Council member from Bellevue, who insists the proposal is merely to ensure Metro’s board, commission and Council meetings are done in one language. Crafton says Tennessee code annotated, which already makes English the state’s official language, doesn’t go far enough.

And yesterday, on the eve of the special election, he was confident of a victory.

“Nashville English First (the local committee advocating the proposal) has won a tremendous victory just by giving people the chance to vote,” Crafton said. “They had to go through two lawsuits and two petition drives just to give the people the chance to vote, despite efforts by the anti-English crowd to suppress. I think that is what democracy is all about. I’m very proud and very excited. I hope 50,000 people turn out to vote.”

Crafton has consistently said that English Only is simply about whether Metro business should be conducted in one language. But only last month The City Paper interviewed some of the Davidson County residents who signed his petition drive and streamlining Metro business was not the reason they supported the charter amendment proposal — instead their comments touched on the issue of illegal immigration.

It is the anti-immigrant sentiment that has rallied a broad coalition against Crafton’s English Only push, which starts at the top with Mayor Karl Dean, who has spoken out against English Only since Crafton began the petition drive last summer.

In recent weeks, Dean has ramped up his opposition by filming television advertisements, recording a message for automated “robo” calls to voters and conducting a series of national interviews on the issue.

Joining Dean in opposing the charter amendment proposal are the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, a coalition of dozens of area churches and faith-based groups, immigrant rights groups and even some prominent Nashville Republicans.

“I really can’t speculate on the outcome,” Dean said when asked how he thinks today’s election will go. “I am proud of the unprecedented coalition of business groups, activist groups, individuals, church leaders, university presidents — all the people who have come together to make a statement about who we are as a city, regardless of the outcome.

“I do know this. No matter what comes of the election, Nashville will still be a great city, and we will continue to move ahead and stay focused on the things we want to accomplish,” Dean said.

The list of media outlets following the special election continues to grow. The New York Times, Fox News, and Lou Dobbs from CNN, have all covered the special election in recent weeks. A City Paper reporter was interviewed by the BBC yesterday on the issue.

Crafton blames the opposition for drawing so much attention nationally to the issue. He insisted that if Purcell had not vetoed his original Council bill, then no one outside of Nashville would have noticed. As it stands, Nashville is on the verge of becoming the largest municipality to pass an English Only resolution.

“The whole thing has been blown out of proportion and unfortunately the anti-English folks have made this into a national issue,” Crafton said. “The very thing they wanted to avoid, they caused, but by their actions they’ve made this a national issue.”

Opponents say the proposal sends the wrong message about Nashville, a city they point out is growing more diverse with each passing year.

Stephen Fotopulos, executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition said the community his nonprofit advocacy organization represents is keeping a close watch on today’s election results.

“I personally have never seen the immigrant and refugee community in Middle Tennessee so unified around a certain issue,” Fotopulos said. “I think English Only more than anything else makes it clear that this is not an assault on one group. It’s an assault against everyone who looks or sounds different.

“I’m incredibly encouraged to see leaders of the immigrant and refugee community come together.”

In the English Only fund-raising race, Crafton told The City Paper his group had raised about $60,000, a far cry from the nearly $300,000 the opposition raised. However, Crafton and Nashville English First refused to file a financial disclosure with the Davidson County Election Commission until after today’s election.

“For people not to want people to become self-sufficient, to me is the wrong approach,” Crafton said. “I am surprised, to some extent, at how much money they raised to oppose something that a vast majority of people support.”

The English Only proposal is not the only one on today’s ballot. There is also a proposal to simplify the petition-driven charter amendment process.

That proposal would allow for referendum proposals to coincide with every countywide election and would downsize the number of signatures needed to put a proposal on a ballot.

Dean and others have spoken out against the second proposal, too, stating it would make it too easy to amend Metro’s governing document. Metro government has already been shaped distinctly by one referendum that now forces all future property tax increases to go to a referendum for approval.

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