Friday, May 25, 2012

It’s time to settle down and just do the right thing

Ever been to a meeting or event and everything seems to be moving along nicely and then WHAM—a comment is innocently made and the discussion turns into bar fight. That’s not quite what happened at Tuesday’s city council meeting, but I’m sure no one in attendance could have predicted so many, would get so worked up, over an anniversary celebration at El Barrio Park.
You see, the Arbol Verde Preservation committee asked the city about a $370 co-sponsorship to help with insurance and equipment for the event. One would think that’s just the type of thing the city (and residents) would help fund, especially given the small amount.
Not so fast. Mayor Pro Temp Opanyi Nasiali questioned whether the city should contribute because the event included a Catholic Mass. As the hour discussion turned into a debate of church and state, cries of a potential violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause were soon raised.
You could probably guess the First Amendment and I are quite close. I have discussed, commented and defended it for decades. But I'm also a very pragmatic person. In these situations, I have to ask myself: What’s the right thing to do?

Come on, that’s just not going to happen.
In this case, it’s clear the Mass is part of the celebration; the celebration is not part of the Mass. Supporting the event only shows how Claremont embraces diversity in our community. But what happens is paranoia takes over the city is now headed down a path of supporting specific religious groups with public money.

It’s clear the Arbol Verde Preservation committee will make great use of $370. Why can’t we as residents simply take a deep breath and do what’s obvious and the right thing to do? Do we really think the First Amendment was designed to forbid Claremont from supporting the party for its own historical landmark?

I think not.

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