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Monday, January 12, 2009

Mayor Karl Dean on the "English Only" Special Election

The following message was sent last week from Nashville Mayor Karl Dean regarding the Special Election this month on English Only. His message is on-target so I yield this blog post to our Mayor. Many thanks to David Leach for sending it my way.

Dear Friends,

I hope that you and your family enjoyed the holidays and were able to take some time to reflect and appreciate the year gone by.

As I have had the opportunity to say many times over the last year, Nashville is a great city. I enjoy being Mayor and I am grateful to the citizens of Nashville for allowing me the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. It has been an exciting year for the city. We’re making progress on my plans for education reform. We’ve added over 100 new officers to our police force. And plans to build a new downtown convention center are well underway, which when completed will give our city a huge economic boost. We face many challenges, but I truly believe that our best days are yet to come.

As we work together to make progress for our city, I want to bring to your attention an issue of pressing importance. Starting today with Early Vote and on Election Day January 22, voters will have the opportunity to go to the polls for a special election on two amendments to the Metro Charter.

One of these amendments makes English the official language of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and prohibits government services from being offered in languages other than English. The other amendment makes it far easier to amend the charter.
I am strongly against these charter amendments and I want you to join me in voting against English Only and Amendment No. 2.

While I do not question the intentions of the proponents of this initiative, I feel a responsibility as mayor to explain the implications such a radical change in our law could have for our city.
First, let me explain what the English Only amendment is not. It is not a vote on immigration reform and it is not a harmless message to office holders. The proposed charter amendment will have absolutely no effect upon efforts to curtail illegal immigration or to reform current national policy. Rather than permitting voters to send a message to the government, the referendum alters our charter in a way that will create legal, political, social and even moral consequences for years to come.

To me, it is the antithesis of hospitality and an unnecessary drain on taxpayer resources. The issue is divisive and will distract us from doing those things that will help us realize our potential as not just a great American city, but a great international city.

English is the official language of Tennessee. That is not in question. We have too much potential to allow this unnecessary measure to hurt us in so many ways.

Amendment No. 2 will make it easier to change our Metro Charter. This amendment is unnecessary because Nashville citizens already have the power to change the charter and it has been changed, even in the short time I have been Mayor. If this amendment passes, special interest groups will be able to put amendments on the ballot every year, even if they keep losing, and this process will likely make government more expensive and inefficient.

A coalition has formed to fight these amendments. It is called Nashville for all of Us.
They will be sending out information and e-mails about the campaign to stop these changes in our charter. Please sign up to join their effort.

And I hope that you will join me in voting against English Only.

Karl F. Dean
Mayor of Nashville

Address is: Karl Dean's Office 3420 Hampton Ave Nashville, TN 37215

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