I was invited to attend last night’s Council meeting by some friends who were interested in making sure the council knew that not everyone in Nashville supported Councilman Crafton’s ‘English Only’ bill. We were told to wear yellow or wear a yellow ribbon in order to represent, if you know what I mean, but the trouble is that yellow is just not a good color for me and I really didn’t have a thing to wear in the yellow category.
We made it into the new council chambers a bit late, but before the council really got warmed up. I must say that the new chambers are certainly more attractive than the old chambers, with sunnier colors (interestingly enough, a good bit of yellow in the hall) and relatively comfortable seating for those of us in the gallery.
We were told upon entering that the Crafton bill would be discussed in about one half hour or so, but considering that I’m a man of the world, I knew that 30 minutes in Metro-Council time is about three hours (tres horas) in citizen time, so I knew that most of us wouldn’t actually be in attendance when ‘the bill’ was discussed.
I didn’t bring anything to read, and I thought that playing my MP3 player might be disturbing to those around me, so I was thinking about seriously fidgeting to combat the severe boredom I could see heading our way in the guise of discussion re charter amendments to our Metro charter.
Parenthetically, I might add that some of the Metro council-persons still aren’t apparently clear what Metro government means, but that is only an incredulous aside..
Actually, I shouldn’t have been concerned about boredom, because my district councilman, Ludye ‘ludye-cris’ Wallace held forth for a good amount of time.
When I was much younger, living at home, my parents were
out of their freakin’ minds generous enough to let me borrow the family car (Pontiac station-wagon) on weekend nights to theoretically drive my friends to proper and approved destinations. Sometimes, I would deliberately drive to neighborhoods I didn’t know anything about, just so that I could get lost and learn about the Nashville that wasn’t the greater Green Hills area in which I was raised.
I had no real destination and I did manage to get lost and waste quite a bit of gas..I say all this to describe Ludye’s speech-making with the only analogy I can muster this morning. Ludye starts talking and appears to be heading SOMEwhere, only to arrive SOMEwhere else and then veer into a completely different train of thought.
My friend, S-TownMike has already chronicled my unknowing appearance on Channel 3 when I cracked up thanks to Ludye asking the Vice-Mayor just exactly what bill he (Ludye) was discussing, after discussing SOMEthing for about five minutes. I think I oppose Crafton’s bill if for no other reason than i’m not certain that the people of my district would have ANY representation if our councilman actually had to speak English..awww, I kid the Ludye..
The Tennessean reports that dozens of folks in opposition attended last night’s meeting. My best guess was that about 30-35 different folks appeared to be attending the meeting because of the Crofton bill. Most of the meeting attendees (including folks there for other reasons) tended to wander in and out – all politely and quietly (at least while I was around). Another aside – they should have a double entrance or ante-room outside the public entrance to the chambers. When the door opens, the conversation outside the door was booming, largely because of the marble hallways and the absence of noise dampening. It was a distraction for the folks in the gallery – not sure if the noise bothered the council members.
In addition to Ludye’s ramblings, Mayoral candidate Buck Dozier made a good case for allowing the council more time to see the Mayor’s proposed budget before they actually vote on the thing. If I heard correctly, the council has about eleven minutes to read a document the size of ‘War and Peace’ with a forward by Proust. I may have misunderstood the actual time, but Dozier’s reasoning was clear, CONCISE, and to the point.
Other charter amendments had to do with mayoral term limits, mayoral succession,
killing off eliminating the ‘at-large’ seats in the council and making Davidson County commission employees actually reside in Davidson county. I was a little confused after Ludye’s preamble to some of these charter discussions (only to find that my confusion level was roughly equal to Ludye’s), but I can tell you that the council is probably not going to be reduced in number, and if the Mayor falls victim to a massive tick bite and cannot serve, we may or may not have a logical successor path in place.
Oh yeah, the Crafton bill. About 2 and 1/2 half hours into the proceeding, some guy in a suit (suit not yellow, but his shirt appeared to be) told those of us left in the gallery that we really didn’t have to hang around any longer, that our appearence had been registered by the council, and more importantly, by the TV cameras, and he was really not sure WHEN the bill would show up. I think he was on ‘our side’, but at that point, after been somewhat dazed and glazed, he might have been one of Crafton’s minions.
I did see the discussion of the Crafton bill on TV when I got home. Crafton introduced the topic by making an introductory statement in Japanese, making the point that if his bill were not passed, then other council members could introduce bills in the language of their choice, and THEN where would we be…Another council member (Ronnie Greer??) spoke up and said that he really wasn’t sure that much would pass if bill were introduced in Japanese or any other language. Crafton repeated his assertion that someone, somewhere in Nashville is being buried under an avalance of requests from an ungrateful foreign language speaking public requesting something or other above and beyond the call of duty. I would like to be fair here, but I still didn’t hear anything specifically mentioned as to what and where these avalanches were occurring.
Councilman Jameson managed to bring up several points in opposition to the Crafton bill. He had the actual gall to ask for documentation and data that would support Crafton’s reasoning. He also asked (far more eloquently than I’ve been trying to do on this blog) if he had been appoached by any leaders in the Hispanic or Kurdish community to solve the apparent crisis with this type of bill.
According to what I heard last night and read this morning, the word ‘only’ has been excised from the bill in lieu of ‘English first’ in context of all communications and publications emanating from Metro officialdom. There is also an amendment added by Crofton that would allow exceptions for the health and safety of citizens and when federeal law mandated non-English communications.
The bill, as amended*, passed the first reading. The bill is certainly not as onerous as when first presented. The second reading will be on the second Tuesday of October. I still wonder what problem we are actually solving with this bill.
I would challenge the Craftons, the Brooks, and the Lockes of this world to actually talk with Hispanic, Laotian, and Kurdish leaders to ask them how the council and the good citizens of Nashville can enfold them into the english-speaking Nashville world of business and commerce. I think most of us agree that immigrants will be better off when they learn English. I’ve got a pretty strong feeling that IF Crafton, et al, met with these other community leaders, that the outcome wouldn’t look much like the bill proposed by Councilman Crofton.
* Click here to a link where you can see a ‘PDF’ of the amended bill.