Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Metro council may urge voters to reject English-only plan
By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer (Tennessean)• July 29, 2008 The Metro Council could go on record next week against a proposal to make English the official language of Nashville. Under a non-binding resolution introduced by Councilman Ronnie Steine, the council would officially ask voters to reject the English-only push led by Councilman Eric Crafton, who is trying to gather enough voters' signatures to place the idea on the ballot in November. If a majority of council members agree with Steine, the council will urge voters not to sign Crafton's petition cards. The council also would ask voters to reject the proposed Metro Charter amendment supported by Crafton if a referendum is held this fall. The charter amendment would limit all government business, publications and meetings to English, with no exceptions for health or safety. It does include language indicating it should not be interpreted to conflict with state or federal law. Supporters say immigrants should learn English and shouldn't be able to demand services in other languages. Opponents say the proposal would make Nashville an unfriendly place and would face serious legal challenges, though Crafton disputed that. "It's important that the public understand that while one council member is supportive, not all of us are," Steine said Monday. "It's not in the best interests of the community." Council makeup changed The council approved an English-only ordinance in February 2007, but then-Mayor Bill Purcell vetoed it. Crafton said he decided to take the issue straight to the voters this year and has collected more than 9,000 signatures; he needs 10,103 registered voters to sign the petition cards by Aug. 16. "I kind of felt the council already spoke when it voted to pass my bill the last time," he said. Only 20 of the 40 council members from 18 months ago are still serving, however, because of term limits and elections last summer. Steine said he expects the council to vote on the resolution when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 7.