Friday, June 13, 2008

Residents v. Citizens

Mayor Karl Dean's recent comments as carried at NewsChannel 5 are disappointing and bring up an issue that needs to be discussed. The context is the proposed charter amendment to make English the official language of Metro business.

In a statement Thursday, Mayor Dean said the city has an obligation to protect and serve residents without regard to the language they speak.
If protect and serve means provide basic emergency services and rooting out criminal behavior which takes advantage of them...I'm with him. I don't see the charter amendment as preventing our EMT, fire or police from doing that though. But if the Mayor's comments mean more than the emergency services I'd like to know if he is the mayor of the residents of Nashville or its citizens? Did residents vote him into office or did citizens? There is a difference and I think our community needs to discuss the differences.

I know that those opposed to the amendment want to make it all about those big bad xenophobes denying a pregnant Kurdish speaking woman from obtaining emergency medical care because it makes for easy sensational headlines, however, this amendment is more about the mundane business of the city and the consequences of translating from my point of view. I haven't seen opponents explain how Metro will not be held responsible in such cases. They fall back on the weaker, emotional and distracting rhetoric instead of addressing legitimate concerns about the running of our government, our liabilities, the costs. They ignore the Metro Council's vote for English First last year as if the will of the people via their elected representatives is inconsequential...and thanks to Bill Purcell's veto pen, it was.

While I understand that many residents are utilizing Metro services and paying some taxes which help pay for those services residents haven't made the extra commitment of declaring/obtaining citizenship and registering to vote and participating in the electoral system. Should our elected officials consider their wants over the needs of citizens? Should those who have not, or cannot, make the commitment to citizenship have all the rights of citizenship?

Hat tip: AC Kleinheider

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