Friday, January 23, 2009

Engish-only Fails!

Yesterday the voters of Nashville rejected the English-only charter amendment. The opponents of the proposed charter amendment won a lopsided victory by defeating the measure with almost a 10,000 vote margin. 41,752 people voted against the measure and 32,144 voted for it. That and one other proposed charter amendment were the only things on the ballot. Turn-out was considered high for an election where no candidates were running for office.

The opponents of the measure included many Nashville public figures and institutions included the Governor, the Mayor, Chamber of Commerce, prominent business leaders, nine College Presidents, religious leaders, The Tennessean and various others. The only prominent people publicly identified with the proponents of the Amendment was the sponsor, Councilman Eric Crafton and local conservative radio talk show host Phil Valentine. Despite the lopsided public opposition their was a fear that the silent majority would defeat the establishment and the measure would pass. Many proponents of the bill viewed this measure as a way to make a statement about the problem of illegal immigration. Had the measure passed, Nashville would have been the largest city to ever pass such measure.

I am relieved that Nashville defeated this proposed amendment. It was unnecessary and was bad public policy. Had the measure passed, no one knew for certain what the impact would have been. It would have saved the city of Nashville almost no money since most translation services provided to residents of the city are paid for by Federal funds and are required or are provided by bi-lingual employees who are already on the payroll. The city has recruited bi-lingual policemen. Many feared the measure would prohibit a policemen who speaks Spanish from talking to another person in Spanish. Signs at the airport in other languages may have been illegal. School official may not have been permitted to send messages home with children in the language of the parents of the child. No doubt their would have been numerous expensive legal challenges to the measure. The Chamber feared it would hinder tourism and business recruitment. I think if it had prevailed it would have presented Nashville in a very bad light. I am glad that decency and common sense prevailed and this divisive measure was defeated.

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