July 19, 2007

Fort Collins Forms Holiday Display 'Task Force'

In a move that replaces legislative fiat with potential bureaucratic red tape, Fort Collins City Council has formed a holiday display citizen "task force" assigned to grapple with the pressing and difficult issue of whether or not to display a menorah during the "holidays":
The Fort Collins City Council took the right approach to a difficult dilemma by agreeing to form a citizen task force to review the city's holiday display policy.

For two years, the issue of whether a menorah could or should be allowed on city property has been left generally unresolved. City Council voted last year to continue its policy of not allowing unattended displays in Old Town, even after public forums dominated by discussion from residents who advocated the placement. While the menorah was rejected, the city does allow a Christmas tree to be placed in Old Town.

Tuesday's decision, though, transcends the menorah issue to address the city's guidelines for all holiday exhibits - an approach that is both sensible and inclusive.

The same goes with forming a citizens' group made up of stakeholders from religious, business, social and government communities. It is hoped that a diverse group can form a diverse and, perhaps, creative approach that allows for free expression rather than exclusion. This group can start by studying how other communities have addressed what has become an all-too-common controversy throughout the nation.

This is, indeed, a community conversation. And it is one in which City Council may have to be led rather than lead on determining appropriate displays for public property.
A recommendation will be brought to the City Council by Oct. 31 and the council will vote on the issue at its Nov. 6 meeting.

City officials are touting their foresight, civic fortitude, and "inclusionary" undertaking:
"I am really delighted to see us taking this step," said Mayor Doug Hutchinson. "We learned a lot about this issue two years ago, and I think Fort Collins is a great city, and I think great cities are inclusionary. I think what council is doing tonight is an act of proactive inclusion."

The 20-member task force will include representatives from many different city organizations, both religious and secular in nature, city staff told council members.
Controversy arose during the holiday season in Fort Collins during the past two years when City Council voted to maintain its policy of not allowing unattended displays – including the menorah – in Old Town.
. . .
"I am pleased council is doing this," said council member Kelly Ohlson, who suggested the task force at a study session. "I want to be clear, though, that we're not telling any churches or businesses or property owners what they can do on their own property. This purely a policy about what the city can do on city property."
"Inclusionary" bureaucracy. Gets you all warm and fuzzy!

We supported the display of a menorah in Fort Collins last December. That position hasn't changed.

We just find it amusing that a 20 person task force has been created to study the issue. Thanks to the ACLU for necessitating such a wasteful and pointless bureaucratic process, as the city cowers behind bureaucracy to avoid ACLU lawsuits and deflect cries of discrimination.

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