Saturday, October 11, 2008

Nashville For All Of Us. Seriously.

We have to have a special election in January just to vote on the English First bill?

We get to spend $350,000 of money -- which we don't have, by the way, since sales tax income is down -- to hold a special election because of the whim of one Councilman? And this after a good proportion of Nashvillians -- and officials representing way more Nashvillians, mind you -- simply think this amendment is redundant, repetitious -- not to mention morally wrong -- and oppose it? How in the bleep did this happen?

I'm not really sure where Crafton got the idea that English wasn't the official language of Nashville. Doesn't he read all that legal Metro Charter stuff he's supposed to be helping uphold for the people of Nashville? It's all in English!

Are there Council members suddenly breaking out in other languages during official meetings?

Or if he's referring to the small amount of government pamphlets translated into other languages that deal with Human Services (for example, at the Department of Motor Vehicles)? Doesn't he realize those are simply designed to accommodate people who are learning English?
We cannot and do not encourage people to learn English by exclusion and opposition. How immature an attitude that is. I guess he's never had to suffer from a mean teacher who thought it was best to teach a child by ridiculing him into learning. Or had to work for a boss who didn't want to train him to do his job, and so compromised his chances of success. Lucky him. But it gives him no perspective. Bad attitudes from teachers or managers doesn't work. We, the citizens of Nashville, are the teachers here.

Let's use logic. Who wants to join a group of people that makes no effort to include them and make them feel welcome? Give me a break. How can we encourage immigrants to become LEGAL American Citizens if we make no effort to help them get there through the paperwork, by translating enough of that basic paperwork to help them get there legally?

Mr. Crafton, this "English First" amendment is worded in such a way as to create the very underground you are trying to prevent. You will create the very nightmare scenario you think you are trying to avoid. Reality is, America is a nation of immigrants. We use English as our common language. People get that. But we don't create a stronger and more united society by making it damn near impossible to navigate its rules. You have to make the rules accessible. and accessible means translating basic forms into other languages, and by providing interpreters to help bridge the gap in the meantime.

"Metro lawyers said that by law, two votes on a petition-driven charter amendment cannot take place in a single two-year period. An amendment which gave voters some control over Metro tax increases was on the Nov. 7, 2006, ballot."

Here's what our Metro Charter reads:

"The council shall not adopt a resolution proposing amendments to this Charter more often than twice during the term of office of members of said council, nor shall any such amendment or amendments be submitted by petition more often than once in each two years."

Crafton is arguing that he submitted the petition within the two year window. The Metro lawyers and Appeals court said he didn't, because the last petition-driven amendment added was voted on by the people three days shy of less than two years ago.

My question is, doesn't Crafton's submission of petitions on both August 15th, then submission again with an "additional" batch of petitions in September for the Election commission to verify, count as submitting petitions "twice"? Doesn't that null and void this issue for two more years, then?

If the measure was ruled out from appearing on this November's ballot because of a technicality of time frame because of semantics (in Crafton's opinion), and Crafton had already tried this to push a similar ordinance through last year (which seems to completely ignore other resolutions by his fellow council members, that already acknowledge English as the official language of Nashville and Tennessee) and it all got vetoed by the mayor then, what in the world made him think this was a good idea to pursue it even further and spend $350,000 on? Why did he say one thing -- and do completely another? What is his ulterior motive? What does he think is gonna happen in the next two years?

Crafton should have let it run through the Appeals process. The petition could have then gone through its normal course, and it could have been voted on -- like he so desperately wants -- in the 2010 election. (This information I picked up from one of these articles I've linked to here.) That's only 2 years off. Not a great deal of time, in the grand scheme of things.

It appalls me that Councilman Crafton thinks he was forced to file for a special election! To pull a quote from The Tennessean:

Just five days after saying he would be "more responsible" than to seek a costly special election, Crafton said the expense should be "laid at the feet of the mayor and Metro Legal and the court system at a time when the city can't afford it."

Oh, really?

Blame the mayor and Metro Legal? Really? [Yes. Use SNL Weekend Report's Seth's and Amy's tone of voice with that, please.]

Um, Mr. Crafton, maybe your boss needs to sit down and go over this with you.

This expense is totally your call. Not the mayor's, and not Metro Legal, cause they told you "no". Not even the people's. You had the signatures in hand -- it was therefore your next responsibility to watch our budget and play by the book, like you were hired to do. Back to that Tennessean article: "Metro lawyers said that by law, two votes on a petition-driven charter amendment cannot take place in a single two-year period. An amendment which gave voters some control over Metro tax increases was on the Nov. 7, 2006, ballot."

YOU are the one who filed the appeal. You had the choice to listen to the rest of Nashville and the other representatives of the Nashville population and respect their input and deal with it. You had the option of letting the court of Appeals hear you out in due time so that you could potentially get it on the ballot legally next time it would be legally allowed to, without added cost to the Nashville citizen. This expense, I'm sad to tell you, is all yours. This cost is the direct result of your unwillingness as a Councilman to work with your co-workers in Metro Government in serving the public of Nashville.

Nobody said you couldn't vote on it. They only said it couldn't happen next month. See the big difference if you had just stopped a moment and taken a breath and realized what they were telling you.

YOU made the decision to bring this cost onto the people of Nashville. Let's tally, shall we?

Previous Mayor Purcell vetoed it. "In 2007, the measure was vetoed by then-Mayor Bill Purcell who described it as mean-spirited and counterproductive.
"This is not who we are," Purcell said at the time."
Current Mayor Dean "opposes the measure and has said it could tarnish the city's image and damage business opportunities. and that it will also misrepresent Nashville's residents."

Here is your fellow Councilman Randy Foster's incredibly balanced take on it.

The Court of Appeals denied your request for an expedited appeal to the chancellor. As in faster-than-normal appeal process. You could have let the appeals process follow due calendar course.

The Metro Human Relations Commission, the Metro Nashville Chamber of Commerce, the ACLU, Service Employees International Union Local 205, and many others have formed a group called Nashville for All of Us to oppose this. I can't wait til they have a website. I think that's a pretty healthy cross section of groups representing actual residents (as opposed to your out-of state financial supporters of this bill). It's too bad they were unsuccessful in filing an appeal to stop this waste of money from happening.

And to pull a quote from the article in the Tennessean:
"How often can you envision the chamber, a union and the ACLU working together?" said Kenny Byrd, an attorney who filed the motion on behalf of the chamber.
"That should tell people something right there," Byrd said. "This thing either smells very, very right or very, very wrong, but that combination has got to mean something."

Crafton and his fellow petitioners should be billed for the special election cost.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nashville is Truly a Beautiful Place ...

... full of beautiful people from many lands.

We are all here, making our homes. Working at our jobs. Sharing our neighborhoods. Enjoying our families. Every one of us are, or come from a family of immigrants.

Every one of us. There is no exception.

We may look different but otherwise all have very similar wants and needs. Food, clothing, shelter. Happiness. Security. Peace.

We may speak different languages but all it takes is a little patience with eachother. People know they come here and have to learn English. Have a little patience. And make sure there is enough translation available so they know where to do their immigration paperwork and how to file their taxes and how to drive their cars all legally as they learn English.

Let me put it this way. I was born and raised in the U.S. and I don't know where to send an immigrant if they wanted to pursue legal registration and citizenship. How can we expect people who are here, who are fleeing from their tyrannical governments who are willing to deny them legal emigration, to automatically know where to go and what to do when they get here, and can't speak the language yet? They want to survive and have a future just like any one of us.

Come on, Nashville. There is a right way to handle this.

Nashville is a good place.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Joy Ford and The Eminent Domain Issue

OR: Let's Not Be Stupid, Nashville #1:

(YAY! At least on this one we weren't.)

I thought I'd at least start the set with a bit of good news. I was glad and relieved to read that Metro's MDHA agency decided not to push the "Eminent Domain" angle to try and seize Joy Ford's property on Music row in order to sell it to a huge developer. I mean with as many parcels of pretty ugly looking land looking pretty available all around close by to there (my gosh can anyone do something downtown south of Broadway and East of 9th?? The Schermerhorn and Country Music Hall of Fame are in some pretty dry and dire-lookin' neighborhood!) and to pick on her tiny spot on the block to throw her out for her few square feet of land was ridiculous. And the ugly karma MDHA would have generated from the sheer injustice had they done it ... sheesh!

Anyway, kudos to The Lionstone Group and Ford being able to swap land so she gets to stay and they can all settle in a really nice way and be neighbors.

Thanks for that. Very cool.

The Drought of Character (for starters)

I think we're collectively suffering from a drought of character, manifested locally by a drought of rain ... Drought of finances/financing ... Drought of confidence ... Drought of faith.

It's just my opinion. Certainly don't mean to disparage anyone ... But I do think this should make us pause and consider where we all want to go from here.