Nashville Won ’t Make English Official Language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Jan 24 14:54:05 UTC 2009

January 23, 2009
Nashville Won't Make English Official Language

Nashville voters on Thursday rejected a proposal to make English the
city's official language and largely prevent government workers from
communicating in other languages. The proposal was introduced by Eric
Crafton, a metropolitan councilman. It was opposed by a broad
coalition including the mayor, civil rights groups, business leaders,
ministers and the heads of nine institutions of higher education. "The
results of this special election reaffirm Nashville's identity as a
welcoming and friendly city," Mayor Karl Dean said in a statement.

Mr. Crafton had said the policy would encourage immigrants to learn
English and save the city more than $100,000 in translation and
related costs. The policy allowed exceptions to its English-only rule
for issues of health and safety.

Critics said the proposal would tarnish Nashville's reputation as a
cultural mixing pot and drive away immigrants and international
businesses. They also accused Mr. Crafton of worsening anti-immigrant
sentiment and wasting at least $350,000 of taxpayer's money on a
special election.

Thirty states, including Tennessee, and at least 19 cities have
declared English their official language, according to the U.S.
English Foundation, which advocates such policies.

The proposal needed 50 percent to pass, and drew only 43.5 percent. It
would have made Nashville, with a population of about 600,000, by far
the nation's largest city to adopt such a policy, which supporters
call English First and critics call English Only.

"People here said Nashville is a warm, welcoming and friendly
environment that celebrates diversity," said Tom Oreck, an opponent of
the proposal and the chairman of the Oreck Corporation, a vacuum
cleaner manufacturer. "If this had passed, it would have sent an
isolationist message in a global economy."

Mr. Crafton, who has pushing for the measure for two years, could not
be reached for comment.

>>From the NYTimes

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