"Elections have consequences."

How many times have we heard that Obama Quote repeated?

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A New City Council Changes Previous Course

The Christian Science Monitor  says:

It’s the political way for winners to tell losers: “Tough luck, you lost. Get over it.” President Obama infamously espoused this view shortly after his 2009 inauguration, during a meeting with congressional Republicans about his economic proposals. Mr. Obama was later quoted as telling GOP leaders that “elections have consequences,” and, in case there was any doubt, “I won.”

And so the first term of the "great uniter" began...Hmmmm.

What's my point?  It's a setup for an opinion/reaction to the local editorial in Sunday's Yakima Herald-Republic(YHR) titled  Yakima City Council - The Harder They Work, The Farther Back We Go.

YHR Editorial Board Opinion Out Of Step But Entitled To It

A previous City Council made a couple of decisions that are being undone by the current council.  The YHR Editorial Board isn't happy about that and they are letting their opinion be heard. (elections DO have consequences)

In 2020 the City Council gave the go-ahead for the LGBTQ community to post the rainbow flag on the west side of City Hall alongside the State Flag, the American Flag, and the National POW/MIA flag. That's some pretty serious & significant company and many of us thought it was an inappropriate decision to align the city with advocacy for the special interest group that is the LGBTQ. Or ANY special interest for that matter.

The current council agrees but the YHR sees that as a step "back".  Back from what? Back from a position of lending city credibility to the endorsing of special interests or certain causes? Or embracing all causes?  That's not the City's job and the YHR knows it.  If it's to be considered a step back, it's a step back from emotionally driven overreach and mission creep, back to the position of neutrality that's the city's true purpose.

Simply For The Good Of The Event

The next egregious act of City retreat, as determined by the YHR editorial board, was staging the recent police awards ceremony at a church,  The editorial reads:

Then, they shrugged off separating church and state by holding a public police awards ceremony at a local evangelical church.

"Shrugged off the separation of church and state"  Really?  Why wouldn't the city choose to pick a venue with lots of parking, hundreds of comfortable chairs, and an awesome audio/visual setup as a great place to honor our law enforcement community?  Did the Stone Church pass the plate, serve grape juice and wafers, or present a sermon or song?  What was the offense that equates to another "step back?"

The YPD has a relationship with that facility, it's been used in training officers to better handle domestic violence incidents, and was used in the past for police recognition events for all the positive reasons listed above.  There is no violation of church and state as suggested by the YHR.

Stepping Back From Overreach

Finally, the YHR editorial board believes a decision to step away from the previous council's commitment to the national SAFE cities organization is an all-or-nothing abdication of the council's concern for the environment.  The editorial reads:

And now, just this past Tuesday, the council seems to have concluded that global climate change really isn't Yakima's problem after all.  So they took the first steps toward rescinding last year's resolution to support clean energy....and perhaps won't be bothering to make any further efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

Sophisticated Thoughtful Approach - Not

The highlighted words are just sour grapes and cynical speculation. They are the extreme negative emotional conclusions you might get from a junior high kid's temper tantrum when you tell them they can't go to a particular school event.  Example:

Fine, then If I can't go to the dance then  guess I will never have any friends, I'll never have a social life and I will probably drop out of school and become a burden on society

Get real.  What the council DID do was vote to form a sustainability advisory committee.  While we don't know all that it will do or become, it's already a step beyond "probably won't be bothering to make further any efforts."

Thoughts Can And Do Change Over Time

Councilwoman Holly Cousen supported the original decision to sign on to SAFE cities but has since had a change of opinion.  Councilwoman Cousens:

It's my opinion that this resolution that we have adopted is not tailored to Yakima but more on a national level.

Welcome aboard Ms. Cousens, many of us believed that and said so at the time.  In addition, logic and self-preservation dictate the idea of going to war on fossil fuels in an Ag-based economy with no viable mechanical alternatives was clearly unwise.  Think "going to war" is too strong?  Here's what SAFE cities says:

The fossil fuel industry’s harmful practices and reckless plans for expansion threaten the well-being of communities and people around the world.

Them's fightin' words in farm country at this time in our alternative energy development history. The Eeyore's at the editorial board moan their proclamation that the council erroneously evidently reasons "climate change will politely bypass the Yakima Valley"

The YHR concludes that since the council is taking us a few steps backward, they should perhaps, take the summer off.  What would any responsible parent say to that junior high student?  How about YOU go to your room, YOU take the summer off, and you come out when you have a better attitude. (and write a better editorial)

Aren't You Being Hypocritical

Finally, a listener called the radio show and suggested that I was a HYPOCRITE for supporting prayer before city council meetings but not supporting the city's display of the pride flag.

I can see how that might not be as clear-cut to some as it is to me, so here's my explanation.

A Flag Is Not Just A Piece Of Cloth

Do flags have a purpose? I believe they do.  What do flags represent? I think this point of view from Sage Journal works:

.....flags are assumed to be imbued with psychological meaning, paramount in conceptually representing the nation's core values, condensing the history and memories associated with one's nation, and embodying what the nation stands for

A flag should represent core values, not special interests. At this point in time, in this city and nation, the LGBTQ community is a special interest, as symbolized by the fact they have a special flag that delineates them from being wrapped in the American flag.

A Council Prayer is Not A Speech Or Positioning Statement

So why not the same for prayer?  Not everybody prays and not all that do are Christians.  Why support prayer before a council meeting?

For starters, prayer IS a core value to the founding of this country.

Government Prayer Is A Old As The Republic Itself

According to the Congressional Research Service, at least three court cases have examined the presence of chaplains in the House and Senate. The constitutionality of legislative chaplains was upheld in 1983 by the Supreme Court (Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783, .on the grounds of precedent and tradition. The Court cited the practice going back to the Continental Congress in 1774 and noted that the custom "is deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country" from colonial times and the founding of the republic. 

From the Senate website                  ;

Throughout the years, the United States Senate has honored the historic separation of Church and State, but not the separation of God and State. The first Senate, meeting in New York City on April 25, 1789, elected the Right Reverend Samuel Provost, the Episcopal Bishop of New York, as its first chaplain. Since then, all sessions of the Senate have been opened with prayer, strongly affirming the Senate's faith in God as Sovereign Lord of our Nation.

The Council Body Is Not The City

The Council is NOT the City.  Councilmembers are just individuals chosen by the people to represent their interests, hopes, dreams, and concerns to the City, to the opportunities, rules, resolutions, and operational systems of the City.  Councilmembers come and go but the City remains.

So when the Council prays and calls upon God's wisdom and grace to help them make the best decisions on behalf of the City and its residents, they are asking for divine providence for themselves as a deliberative body, to enhance the work they are about to do on behalf of the City.

My position is those who wish to present or speak to the council need not participate in the prayer if they choose not to.  Council members who choose not to participate can be excused as well.  But why would the council not want all the help they could get, celestial or otherwise, to handle the difficult job of providing wise policy to city administrators?

All Are Welcome For Prayer With The Purpose

What about non-Christian religions wanting to pray on behalf of the council?  To that I say - What's the point of having prayer at the Council?  They aren't just words without a specific purpose. Prayers are to increase, to enhance, to support the wisdom and decision-making capability of the council.  With that as purpose, bring it on.

All who want to meet those criteria for prayer can take turns, but don't turn our back on prayer in general and the ideas and inspiration that helped form and sustain the nation in the first place.

Did It Make The Case

That, in my opinion, is the difference between supporting prayer and not supporting the flag.  Both have specific intended purposes and they differ and that's why I say I'm recognizing the distinction- and not being hypocritical.

Do you disagree?  Let's hear from you, and thanks for reading.

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