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  • Last modified 25 days ago (Nov. 16, 2017)

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Flag salute or prayer?

Commissioners want to add invocation, require meeting attendees stand for flag

Staff writer

After commissioners asked for rules for meeting attendees, a removal of one of those rules caught the criticism of commissioner Dianne Novak: a requirement to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Novak raised the issue at the end of Monday’s meeting, after language first appeared on initial copies of Oct. 31 meeting agendas. The line was removed in revised copies of that meeting’s agenda, and it was not on Monday’s agenda.

“Remove your hat and stand for the Pledge of Allegiance,” the second bullet point read under the original open session guidelines.

It did not say “please,” and it did not include a provision for protesters or those physically unable to stand.

County clerk Tina Spencer said someone complained about the addition, which is why she took it off the agenda.

“The complaint that I had was that you can’t really force people to do that,” she said. “Because of the Constitution, you can’t necessarily force them to do that.”

She said the wording did not require attendees to remove their hats and stand, which were only guidelines.

“You need to think about what you will do if someone refuses, because they have every right to refuse to do that,” Spencer said.

“I’m requesting that we put it back on, and I guess if someone actually refuses, we can deal with it at that time,” Novak said.

“What do you want the chairman to do, pull a gun out and shoot them?” commission chairman Randy Dallke asked.

Other guidelines on the agenda address cell phone usage, side conversations, courteous behavior, and following time limits.

Two cell phones went off during the meeting, one a commissioner’s and one a presenter’s. No reprimands were delivered in either case.

Novak said many people died for the flag before commissioner Kent Becker suggested adding prayers at the start of meetings. He said an invocation could rotate among church pastors across the county.

Dallke asked if there needed to be a time limit on pastor’s prayers.

“I can’t imagine they’re going to pray for 10 minutes,” Spencer said.

“Some of them can carry on,” Dallke said.

Commissioners agreed to have Spencer reach out to pastors to see if there is interest in performing invocation at meetings.

“And then that line would say to please stand for the prayer and the flag,” Novak said.

Dallke asked which would come first, the prayer or flag salute.

Novak and Becker said they thought prayer would come first.

“I would say God and country, if you’re looking at it that way,” Becker said.

Last modified Nov. 16, 2017

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