Saturday, December 27, 2008

Voting begins Friday

From this morning's Tennessean regarding the upcoming Charter Amendment to make English the official language of Metro Nashville business:

"I would defy you to find 5 percent of Hispanics in favor of this," [Tom Negri, general manager of the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel] said. "This is a disheartening ordinance for major firms who may want to move in with diverse employees. Now is not the time to build an imaginary fence."
  1. Many more than just Hispanics will be voting on this and many more languages than Spanish are on the line here.
  2. Could it be that Mr. Negri's hospitality staff is his highest concern?
  3. Show me a 'major firm with diverse employees' that wants to move into Nashville. Just show me one who is seriously considering taking Nashville out of consideration based on Nashville requiring its official business be conducted in English. Just one. I'll wait...
Further Mr. Negri statesVanderbilt University history professor Edward Right-Rios states "But there are some people who fight assimilation."

Precisely. And why should the taxpayers foot the bill for their unwillingness to assimilate?

Again from Mr. Negri Mr. Right-Rios: "My guess is that the ones who are supporting (English-only) often are the entrepreneurial immigrants frustrated with their compatriotas [compatriots--fellow countrymen] who seem to be lagging."

And so we should overlook their frustration and accommodate the laggers? Maybe they realize that the laggers are endangering themselves and reflecting badly on their home country? Maybe they realize that learning English isn't all that hard. Maybe they're tired of taking flak and prejudice created by these laggers? Maybe it's time for the laggers to stop lagging.

And again from the article: "Fourteen percent of people in Davidson County speak a language other than English at home..." This is not a vote on what language people speak in their homes, in their private business, in their personal communications between friends and neighbors. It's ONLY about the official business of Nashville government. Councilman Eric Crafton gets the final word in the article:
"What I've been saying 100 times is that this charter leaves us with the ability to control what services we provide and don't want to provide," he added. "Our job is really easy to convince people that a community is more united, more efficient under one common language."
Early voting starts on Friday for two amendments to the Metro Charter. I'll be voting yes on both. Take advantage of early voting and don't let an unexpected event (illness, bad weather, life) keep you from voting.


din819go said...

Kay - the reason companies do not move into Nashville but to the surrounding counties is not because of who speaks what language. It is because of the poor quality of public education in this city. We must improve public education in Nashville inorder for businesses to locate headquarters in Davidson County.

Kay Brooks said...

You've hit the nail on the head, din819go.

Brian, I have zero interest saving an invented language that's hardly a hundred years old when, in my city, too many children aren't learning to read and write English well.

My suggestion for folks interested in saving languages is that they hook up with the folks at

Bill Chapman said...

Hello, Kay

Your cidea and Brian's are not mutually exclusive. It should be possible to raise student standards while at the same time making wider use of Esperanto. Incidentally, I don't think Esperanto is endangered at all!

Tom Negri said...

Happy Day, Kay.

You have a wonderful blog and blogs are perfect ways for people to express their opinions. But if I may... You attributed three quotes to me in this blog, only one of which was actaully mine as printed in the Tennessean this past Saturday, December 27. In the first quote "I would defy you to find 5 percent of Hispanics..." is a quote from the Tennessean which should have read "5 percent of new arrivals". As to your number one point, new arrivals make up more than just Hispanics...or as I like to say "Latinos".

The other two quotes "But there are some people who fight assimilation" and "My guess is that the ones..." are not my quotes. According to The Tennessean, these quotes can be attributed to Vanderbilt University history professor Edward Right-Rios.

To your second point "Could it be that Mr. Negri's hospitality staff is his highest concern?" the answer in short is yes. These team members support many families who are also part of our Nashville community. So besides my family, they are my highest concern.

Last but not least, by state law English is already the official language of Tennessee, Nashville and Davidson county included. Disappointing that we are spending time on this.

Warm Regards,

Tom Negri

Kay Brooks said...

Thank you for the corrections, Mr. Negri. You have my apology for the mistakes.

English is the official language of the State of Tennessee. What is wrong with replicating that on the local level? Has the state been thrown into chaos as a result of the law?

I'm curious to know where the 5% figure comes from.

Thanks for verifying that your highest concern is your family and your employees. I hope Nashville voters will do what is best for the city on the whole.

It is disappointing that something as foundational as using English to conduct government business in the United States of America is being so vehemently fought.

Tom Negri said...

Happy Day, yet again Kay.

Please call me Tom. Yes, English is the official language of Nashville and the Davidson County government. Thus, the "Only" part of the English Only ballot initiative.

Concerning the 5 percent figure, that was indeed off the top of my head as it relates to this English Only initiative knowing the new arrivals that I work with and know.

Yes, we do need to do what is best for our city as a whole. And no, I don't find it disappointing that this English Only initiative is being fought so vehemently. The English language is not in trouble, nor has it been over the years here in our country.

There are people here in our country who would like to confuse this issue with the immigration issue as a whole. In fact, statistics show that new arrivals are learning English faster than previous generations, no matter where they are from.

Not being the best blogger, may I suggest to both you and your readers to go to where you will find substantial information on the subject.

Many thanks again and I do appreciate your questions.