Saturday, August 23, 2008

Plain English

The Davidson County Election Commission has certified that the English First initiative has enough valid signatures to be placed on the November 4 ballot. But before voters get a chance to push the button for or against some 'citizen advocates' will be parsing every word of the Metro Charter amendment which allows this amendment looking for some way to keep citizens from getting the chance to vote on it.

"I am confident that any one else who can read and understand English can understand that we have met the charter's terms," said [CM Eric] Crafton.

Others disagree.

"There's good legal argument that 'submitted' means 'submitted to the voters,' " said Greg Ramos, a Nashville attorney who opposes the English-first initiative. "How do you submit something to the people for approval? You put it on the ballot." Tennessean

I keep saying it...the English speakers among us have a hard enough time interpreting our laws written in English right now...it's only going to get messier if we have to interpret to and from who knows how many languages and cultural frames.

Below is the pertinent code with the snip opponents keep quoting in red. By their point of view the election date is the one that counts, not the filing date, and the effort is 3 days short of compliance. Or is that just 2 since this is a leap year? Regardless, all this needs to be read in context.

ARTICLE 19. AMENDING CHARTER

Sec. 19.01. Amending Charter by resolution of council or petition and popular vote.
This Charter may be amended subsequent to its adoption in the following manner:
An amendment or amendments may be proposed

(1) by the adoption of a resolution by the council favoring the same and submitting it or them to the people for approval. The affirmative vote for adoption of such resolution in the council shall be not less than two-thirds of the membership to which the council is entitled, and such resolution when adopted need not be submitted to the mayor for his approval; or

(2) upon petition filed with the metropolitan clerk, signed by ten (10) per cent of the number of the registered voters of Nashville-Davidson County voting in the preceding general election, the verification of the signatures to be made by the Davidson County Election Commission and certified to the metropolitan clerk. Such resolution or petition shall also prescribe a date not less than eighty (80) [days] subsequent to the date of its filing for the holding of a referendum election at which the electorate of the metropolitan government will vote to ratify or to reject the amendments proposed.

The metropolitan clerk shall immediately certify to the county commissioners of election copy of such resolution or petition and it shall thereupon be the duty of said commissioners of election to hold a referendum election with respect thereto. The ballot shall be prepared so as to set forth a brief description of the amendment worded so as to convey the meaning of said amendment, said description to be set forth in the original amendatory resolution, that the language of each amendment in full be posted conspicuously in the voting place and be published in a local newspaper, numbered as the same is numbered in the resolution of the council or in the petition, and to provide the voters a choice to vote "For Ratification" and "Against Ratification" of each proposed amendment. Each proposed amendment shall be ratified when a majority of the votes cast at the special referendum election shall be in favor of ratification and each proposed amendment shall be rejected when a majority of said votes shall be against ratification. Notice of said referendum election shall be given as provided by Tennessee Code Annotated, section 2-1808*, and the costs of said election shall be paid out of the general funds of the metropolitan government.

The commissioners of election shall canvass the returns and certify the results to the secretary of state, who shall issue a proclamation showing the results of said election on the ratification or rejection of each proposed amendment to this Charter. One copy of the proclamation shall be attached to the copy of this Charter previously certified to said secretary of state and one copy shall be delivered to the metropolitan clerk who shall attach the same to the copy of the Charter in his custody.

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.

The council shall not adopt, except pursuant to section 18.06 of this Charter, a resolution which proposes an amendment that redistricts the councilmanic districts unless the same be incidental to a proposed change in the number of such districts.
(Res. No. 72-380, § 1, 11-7-72)

Editor's note--An amendment to § 19.01 was approved at an election held March 8, 1988.
* Editor's note--The relevant Code sections regarding notice of referenda are codified at T.C.A. § 2-12-111. [via MuniCode]

1 comment:

Nashteach said...

Well, I intend to vote "no" on the amendment, but the 3 day thing is silly. It's the November election two years later; we should certainly be able to submit a resolution each Congressional election, which happens every two years.