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Views from elsewhere in Tennessee

Views from elsewhere in Tennessee

Posted: Friday, June 27, 2008 9:06 pm
By: AP

The following is a roundup of recent editorials from Tennessee members of The Associated Press. In some cases, the editorials have been edited for length. They do not reflect an editorial position of the AP but represent the opinions of the newspapers from which they are taken. ———— The (Nashville) Tennessean, June 24 “This is not who we are.” Those six words might have been the most meaningful former Nashville mayor Bill Purcell ever uttered in office, when he vetoed an “English-first” bill that had passed the Metro Council. Purcell, a man of many words on many issues, made the point when he declared that the spirit of the bill approved by the council sent the wrong message to the world about Nashville. Two words for the former mayor: tres bien. Yet, the English issue has emerged again, this time not as a proposal in the Metro Council that Mayor Karl Dean would have to deal with, but in the form of a petition to get the issue on the November ballot through a referendum, in order to amend the Metro Charter. If the issue comes before the voters, they could approve it with a majority vote. By now, just about all the arguments have been made about why the effort should be rejected: It is exceedingly unnecessary. It is woefully divisive. It is potentially harmful in that it could frighten people away from communicating in other languages in troublesome situations. It is constraining on government officials who know it is the purpose of their jobs to communicate and to serve, not reject those who are trying to convey important information but who may lack English skills. And the whole effort is likely to be struck down as unconstitutional, with Metro stuck with the legal fees that never should have been needed. Backers of this petition have never fully explained why this measure is needed. They have offered little to show what the problem is with the system we have. The petition creates a remedy to a problem that does not exist. It needs to be said that drumming up a petition, in its own right, is a noble, respectable way to make a case. The right to get a referendum on a ballot is part of the bedrock of a democracy. No one should dispute the group’s efforts to let the people speak. But this particular effort is harmful to the community, and seems to go on ad infinitum. It’s time Nashville said adios to this ugly, tiresome debate. http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pecs.dll/article?AID/20080624/OPINIO N01/806240351/1008 Published in The Messenger 6.27.08

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