Nashville speaks up: English Only soundly defeated

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 12:00am

$element(flashss,slideshow,142,Nasc)$

With the world keeping tabs, Nashville voters adamantly struck down on Thursday a proposed Metro charter amendment proposal that would have made English the government’s official language.

The English Only charter amendment proposal failed by what several said was a surprisingly wide margin — 56 percent voted against the proposal and 44 percent voted in favor. There were 73,896 voters who weighed in on the special election.

A second proposed amendment, which would have made petition-driven charter amendments simpler and easier to achieve, also was defeated by a margin of 62 percent against and 38 percent in favor.

The English Only proposal also stated that no individual had a right to services in any other language.

Other cities have passed similar English Only measures, but Nashville would have become the largest municipality to do so. In the weeks leading up to the election, various national and even international media outlets covered the English Only special election.

Mayor Karl Dean, an outspoken opponent of English Only from the beginning, said the defeat of the proposed amendment showed Nashville to be a progressive, welcoming city.

“This is a great night for Nashville,” Dean said. “The results of this special election reaffirm Nashville's identity as a welcoming and friendly city, and our ability to come together as a community — from all walks of life and perspectives — to work together for a common cause for the good of our city.

“That diversity and that shared desire to see our city succeed and progress is part of what makes Nashville so great and the exact reason why this amendment does not represent the city that we are. I can tell you it a true honor and privilege to serve as mayor of this city.”

On the losing side was Eric Crafton, a Metro Councilman from Bellevue. Crafton had pushed a measure to make English the official language of Metro government for two years. After a failed attempt to pass a Council bill, Crafton gathered signatures of Davidson County voters.

His first attempt, which would have put the proposal on the November presidential election ballot, was disallowed by the Davidson County Election Commission. Crafton went back to the drawing board and gathered more signatures to force the special election.

In defeat, Crafton promised to abide by the “wisdom of the voters,” adding that he was glad the issue was finally decided at the ballot.

“I think it’s been a net-positive for Nashville,” Crafton said. “We’ve had a discussion, the people have decided. I always said I would support the collective wisdom of the citizens and they gave a clear statement tonight.”

English Only brought together a surprise coalition of opponents, led by Dean. It also included the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, immigrants rights advocacy groups and faith-based organizations from across the mid-state area.

The coalition raised in the neighborhood of $300,000, according its campaign finance disclosures. Crafton’s Nashville English First committee raised about $60,000, he said. As of Thursday, the committee had still not filed a financial disclosure, but Crafton said one would be coming soon.

The second amendment, which would have simplified the petition-driven charter amendment process, failed by an even wider margin. Opponents said the proposal was unnecessary and would have led to an assault on the Metro charter.

A pre-election estimate from Metro said the special election would cost around $300,000.

Filed under: City News
Tagged:
By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

YES!

By: morpheus120 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Your pet project failed, Crafton. Now get back to work.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Crapton,resign!

By: NashvilleEnglish on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Hello, Crafton? Hello, racists? Are you out there? Helloooooo!Looks like that guaranteed victory turned out to be a bit of a Madoff promise. That 75% who was supposedly in support of English Only actually didn't live in Nashville after all. http://nashvilleenglishfirst.wordpress.com/

By: nashmusic on 12/31/69 at 7:00

To Karl Dean and others:As an American and who appreciates our democracy, Voters got to Vote!however, let's do this again in a General Election. Let's do this again and the Lowes, HCA, law firms, Chamber come out and face the music and truthfully state why they oppose. Is it because those groups want to keep immigrants dumb? keep them uneducated? is it that folks like Negri are fearful that if immigrants learn English, they will then see what really is happening to them by corporate greed? Immigrants, you think you won but you really lost. Keep supporting these types of people that pay you minimum wage, that keep you and your children in bondage by not really letting you learn English. By maintaining the status quo for their benefit. If you, then you and your children will always be landscapers, dishwashers, work in housekeeping at the Lowes...It is a shame, but Voters got to Vote!David Fernandez, an American citizen by naturalization. I was born in Argentina, but proudly live in the United States and have been speaking English since I arrived here at age 17.

By: ardillicphos on 12/31/69 at 7:00

¡Hola! ¡Hola! ¡Racistas, do you hear me? Where are you? Are you all passed out after eating too many doughnuts and ice cream? ¿Racistas? ¿Me escuchan? I thought you were going to win? Well, I guess that "the voice of the people has been herd... oops, I mean heard.No, nashmusic..... we aren't going to do this again. Twice is enough. Go find something else to whine about.

By: nashmusic on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Sorry, but really got caught up and some of my sentences were poorly written. My neighbor works 8-10 hours per day at the Lowes cleaning rooms. She comes home each night wanting to learn English and my wife and I take time to teach her as good neighbors, as good Americans.It irritates me that the Lowes, HCA and others take advantage of these people!My neighbor commented 2 weeks ago that the management told her don't worry, ****** we are taking care of this English Only thing----just get back to work.That is wrong. Help these people learn English. Don't maintain the status quo by supporting complacency. If multiple languages are offered (at taxpayer expense) then the immigrant has no incentive to learn. Common sense!

By: nashmusic on 12/31/69 at 7:00

No ardilllicphos,,,Que clase de nombre es ese?Uds. son lo que perdieron esta noche...Sigueran en su lucha de ser Americanos....Oh yea, translate...No Ardillicphos, What kind of name is that? You and your bigots in corporate America are the ones that lost tonight. You will continue to fight and suffer in your quest (those that are honorable) to be Americans.Que tenga buena noche.....David

By: nashmusic on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Dean and cohorts, you know fully well that if this were allowed and conducted in a General Election, you would have lost. Your law department came in the last minute and wrangled up the language and law. Campaigns are campaigns..It didn't end tonight! Trust me....Just another battle in the war!

By: Dore4Life on 12/31/69 at 7:00

http://gleez.com/articles/do_you_know/top_10_languages_spoken_in_the_worldIt's quite an advantage to require people to learn English from a global perspective as well.I guess we could always remove English as the official language of the United States....I mean it's just discrimination to require people to be able to communicate in order to live here.

By: Gusdog on 12/31/69 at 7:00

D4L - English is actually not the official language of the US, even though it is of Tennessee. The US has no official language.This amendment wouldn't have magically taught people English. And by your logic, you should be brushing up on your Mandarin.

By: Dore4Life on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Dude, I think we should hold the next public government meeting in Mandarin and see if anyone there has a damn clue what is going on? Did you read the part under English?This whole "alienating immigrants" argument is not what the amendment was about. It was about establishing English as the official language of local government. You know so we'd all be on the same sheet of music and not all "singing off key".

By: Gusdog on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I did read the part under English, thank you very much.English is the official language of the local government, by Tennessee law. So what's the problem?

By: Gusdog on 12/31/69 at 7:00

"why was the amendment brought forth to make all government business in Nashville to be done in English if it was already legislated by State law?"That's a question people have been asking ever since this came up."Why do many other countries in this world conduct all common and official business in English (despite multiple languages being spoken there) but Nashville, TN is unwilling to that?"I watch channel 3. I've never seen any official meetings conducted in anything other than English. Some severe southern drawls, but all English. Where is Nashville unwilling to conduct official business in English?

By: Gusdog on 12/31/69 at 7:00

And, BTW, I agree that learning English is a good idea. I don't think we needed a charter amendment to know that.

By: Dore4Life on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I don't know... why was the amendment brought forth to make all government business in Nashville to be done in English if it was already legislated by State law? Good...then you noticed that more countries have English as their official language than any other in the world. English is the official language of world business as well due to this very factor. Finally, English is the #1 language in terms of being learned in the world (even though numerically more people speak Chinese due to the population of China). Why do many other countries in this world conduct all common and official business in English (despite multiple languages being spoken there) but Nashville, TN is unwilling to that?

By: Gusdog on 12/31/69 at 7:00

"So, the state law prevents any other language aside from English from being used in state and city government, right?"Official government business, yes. What you are saying the amendment was about is EXACTLY what the state law covers. Look it up if you'd like.

By: Dore4Life on 12/31/69 at 7:00

The amendment was regarding public meetings and official language of government in Nashville.....I still don't see where this "alienating immigrants" argument came into play.Nashville government doesn't do any official business in any other languages...the purpose of the proposed amendment was to keep it that way.Btw, thank you for educating me on the state law on the subject. So, the state law prevents any other language aside from English from being used in state and city government, right?

By: Gusdog on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Heck, I'll even copy what Dragon posted yesterday, which is the text of the state law:"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. [Acts 1984, ch. 821, § 1.]"Communications and publications produced by governmental entities in Tennessee pretty much covers all official business.

By: Captain Nemo on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I don't think that the Genrale election would have been any different.But there will be those that will argue that.

By: Captain Nemo on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Congratulations TITAN1.I guess that restaruant owner will have to learn Spanish is if want to know if his employs are cussing him.

By: nightrain on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I agree with Mr. Crafton. This is America. The official language is English. If you want to become a citizen and life here, then you need to learn English, pure and simple. If you go to Russia or Mexico, do you think these people learn to speek English so they can communicate with us? NO! When I went to Mexico, they didnot even understand what I was saying when I was trying to find a bathroom. After grabbing my self, they finially got the picture and pointed me in the direction. When I got their, I was charged .50 cents for toilet paper and they rathioned it out by the square! I say, if you want to come here and become an American, learn the language and dress like one. It is our country..

By: bfra on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Dean must need money to pay for all the campaigns against English Only, my water bill quadrupled this month.

By: pandabear on 12/31/69 at 7:00

This guy gets it. He'a an immigrant who is now a US citizen."By: nashmusic on 1/22/09 To Karl Dean and others:As an American and who appreciates our democracy, Voters got to Vote!however, let's do this again in a General Election. Let's do this again and the Lowes, HCA, law firms, Chamber come out and face the music and truthfully state why they oppose. Is it because those groups want to keep immigrants dumb? keep them uneducated? is it that folks like Negri are fearful that if immigrants learn English, they will then see what really is happening to them by corporate greed? Immigrants, you think you won but you really lost. Keep supporting these types of people that pay you minimum wage, that keep you and your children in bondage by not really letting you learn English. By maintaining the status quo for their benefit. If you, then you and your children will always be landscapers, dishwashers, work in housekeeping at the Lowes...It is a shame, but Voters got to Vote!David Fernandez, an American citizen by naturalization. I was born in Argentina, but proudly live in the United States and have been speaking English since I arrived here at age 17."He understands the "hype and drama" show,fueled by fear, that these guys are putting on. Why don't you ?Do you actually read the ammendment ?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 law.”http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_lang.html:According to U.S. English, the following states have existing official language laws on their books: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, etc.Stop being duped.Do some homework.

By: pandabear on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Gusdog:Good for you. I don't agree that they are exactly the same, there are some differences, but I'm glad you look at it.

By: Steelcity68 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

For all of those that were against this measure, I have two questions for you. Why do you think English is a REQUIRED subject in every school in America all the way through 12th grade and would you support making it an optional subject?

By: JeffF on 12/31/69 at 7:00

crow with chocolate sauce, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmFor the record I am not a racist, requiring governement business to be done is not a direct or indirect slap at immigrants. I hate to be labeled a racist simply because I support a single unifying language in government.

By: Captain Nemo on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I always get suspicious when I hear I'm not a racist.

By: JeffF on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I always get suspicious when the only argument the dim make is to call the opposing side a bunch of racist.

By: EquinsuOcha on 12/31/69 at 7:00

just another example why nashville cant be trusted with the vote.

By: Captain Nemo on 12/31/69 at 7:00

If you know that you can't be trusted. Then why did you EquinsuOcha?

By: Dore4Life on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Okay, so I guess my main question becomes then: if there is a state law already covering what the proposed amendment covered... then why was the opposition not campaigning about the silly redundacy? Instead, all I heard about was how it will hurt the economy, "alienate immigrants" etc. Why were they opposing the spirit of a law that the state of TN has already legislated? Surely, there would have to be some "fine print" in the proposed amendment that would make it a little different.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

JeffFKeep fighting the good fight, it used to be the way. Now it seems you are in the minority on every single topic. Yesterday you guarenteed a victory. Same was true in November. It is a new world order, get used to it....hate to say I told you so...

By: dogmrb on 12/31/69 at 7:00

The correct term would be nativist, not racist. I look forward to seeing who funded both campaigns, especially Crafton's.

By: Rocket99 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

The proposed charter amendment was created out of hate and apparently ignorance. For someone who's supposed to be so well educated, Crafton sure does come across as a dolt.Why was he so afraid to list where his money for this come from? My understanding is his group is in direct violation of election laws. I think they should be fined $500,000.

By: Captain Nemo on 12/31/69 at 7:00

This was a waste of time and money. The only thing it accomplished was to polarize the city and spweing hate.

By: Captain Nemo on 12/31/69 at 7:00

We could get back some of the money spent on this.

By: Dragon on 12/31/69 at 7:00

"A second proposed amendment, which would have made petition-driven charter amendments simpler and easier to achieve, also was defeated by a margin of 62 percent against and 38 percent in favor."Guarantees that it will happen again and cost as much, if not more.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Dragon,What are you smoking. Defeating Ammendment 2 means it will happen less and it was defeated by an even wider margain. The people have spoken as you like to say and they have said enough with this frivoulous crap. Move on.....

By: Captain Nemo on 12/31/69 at 7:00

The second Ammendment was very dangerious. Anyone could have had petitions to have a UFO Landing site. I'm sure they would get enough people to sign it and we would have to vote on it.

By: Dragon on 12/31/69 at 7:00

But the current laws on petition referendums is what CAUSED the $350,000 that Nemo was whining about. Passage of the second measure would have allowed the referendum to be included in a normal election.Why not just outlaw ALL petition-driven referendums? That would be the cheapest alternative of all. Keeping the status quo only says that the same thing can happen again.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Dragon,I am not trying to be offensive or rude to you but you must realize that we live in a Republic which is structured to have our elected officials govern us. There is good and sound reasoning for this. Most people on either side of an issue are usually passionate about it by emotion not by common sense. The Phil Valentines and Rush Limbaughs of the world ensure we are outraged at each other so we continue to fight instead of working for a common good.Hopefully our elected officials have our best interests at heart because that is their job. When this passed and was vetoed in the previous administration that is where it should have been left. The public was not outraged by this or did not tell the Mayor to make his decision in a different manor. It is merely a "I didn't get my way so now I am going to start trouble" kind of mentallity that gets us nowhere. What was the end result? Nothing changed, the people still did not want this, so what did we accomplish?

By: Captain Nemo on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Bravo producer2.Dragon are you the frying pan calling the kettle black? lol

By: Dragon on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Producer, I appreciate the civility but disagree with your position.To say that your only right is to elect a representative and hope for the best is naive. The current legislature is a prime example. Even popular legislation, supported by the vast majority of the representatives, is controlled by the Speaker and committee chairs. Bills are not allowed to be voted on.Voter referendums are a good thing. The results are decided by the voters, not by the powerbrokers in government.Yesterday's referendums were a good thing and reflect "government by the people". Making the petition-driven referendums easier would move us in the direction of democracy.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Dragon,You should really check out the Constitution of the United States. Here is a good link. We do not rule in the manner you desire...http://www.1215.org/lawnotes/lawnotes/repvsdem.htm

By: Steelcity68 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

While it is interesting to see the views on the differences on a democracy versus representative republic, the questions still stand, and no answers yet. Why do we require all children in our public schools to learn English, and would those of you that were against this measure vote to have English as an optional rather than a required school subject?

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

no awnsers becasue it is a ridiculous question. You act like opponents are anti American. Get a clue...

By: Dore4Life on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Opponents of the assimilation of immigrants I would classify as "anti-American". Yes. Granted, the proposed amendment was not referencing immigrant citizens' assimilation directly, but you won't have an American identity without assimilation. What you have left as the "American" identiy is multi-culturalism.....There becomes nothing left to unify Americans except individualism and selfishness. Guess what happens when the only common interest among a nation's people is their own individual well being? Hell.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

So should we go back in time and only allow blonde headed, blue eyed white people into the country? Oh that was already tried somewhere......

By: Dore4Life on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Good, I'm glad you see the danger of where this country is headed when we don't have any values that we stand unified on other than our own individual well being. I like watching "300" again when I think about the multi-culturalism taking hold in the United States. It explains Western Civilization and why it is worth defending very well. I'll never forget this interaction between the Persian King Xerxes and King Leonidas of Sparta from that movie:Xerxes: It isn't wise to stand against me, Leonidas. Imagine what horrible fate awaits my enemies when I would gladly kill any of my own men for victory. King Leonidas: And I would die for any one of mine.