Mount Vernon News
 
 
First Ward City Council Member Sam Barone, left, reads aloud the entire resolution that, once approved, placed the invocation back on council’s legislative agenda. Also pictured is Second Ward Council Member John Francis.
First Ward City Council Member Sam Barone, left, reads aloud the entire resolution that, once approved, placed the invocation back on council’s legislative agenda. Also pictured is Second Ward Council Member John Francis. (Photo by Samantha Scoles)

By Mount Vernon News
May 30, 2012 11:43 am EDT

 

MOUNT VERNON — The vote was unanimous but the decision to bring the invocation back to City Council’s agenda — by a resolution — was anything but easy for some members of council. The debate rested largely on whether or not legislation was necessary or if Council President Bruce Hawkins should simply put the practice back on the agenda.

Proposed legislation to permanently amend the agenda, and provide some guidelines as to who provides the invocation, was written and circulated by Sam Barone just days after Hawkins, following a recommendation from city Law Director Bill Smith, removed the invocation from the agenda and presented a prayer two minutes prior to the start of the May 14 council meeting.

John Fair, Janis Seavolt and Nancy Vail all questioned whether or not legislation was necessary.

“With a snap of the fingers you took it off the agenda,” Fair said to Hawkins. “You could snap your fingers and put it back on.”

Fair said he felt “backed into a corner” because although he supported council’s longstanding tradition of invocation, he did not believe legislation was the way to achieve the goal.

“I see no reason for a resolution,” Vail said. “It should be put back on the agenda. You, Mr. President, have the power to put it back on the agenda.”

“I’m not willing to do that,” said Hawkins, who stated he was in support of the resolution although he has no voting power on council, unless there is a tie vote.

Vail said that if supporting the resolution was the only way to restore the invocation, then she would support it but feels “strongly we shouldn’t have to have a resolution.”

Seavolt said she agreed with Vail and Fair and did not believe that a “law” was required to bring the tradition of the invocation back to the agenda.

In an email sent to council members on Friday, Hawkins said the resolution was not a “law” but a procedure followed by council. As an example, he stated a previous council passed a resolution regarding which brick streets could be paved. In his communication with council, Hawkins reminded the voting members that “the purpose of the prayer is NOT for the community at large, but is intended for divine guidance for council itself.”

For the full story, click here for the May 30, 2012 e-edition. The article will only be available for thirty (30) days.

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