Invocations are fine, but focus on crime, jobs, schools, budget
September 10, 2010
We support the Hartford city council's decision to have local imams offer the invocation at two council meetings this month. The gesture affirms the city's commitment to e pluribus unum at a time when fear-mongering against Muslims is becoming rampant. If some two-bit megalomaniac minister in Florida wants to burn the Quran, then it's appropriate for the governing body of a diverse capital city to join in affirming the values of religious freedom and tolerance.
But after the invocation, we urge the council to remember that they were elected not to solve the world's problems, but the city's, and that how they begin the meeting should not be as important as what they do during the meeting. The council has done little this summer to inspire confidence.
It took two contentious months to fill the council vacancy created in June by the elevation of Pedro Segarra to the office of mayor following Eddie Perez's conviction on corruption charges. The arguments between supporters of different candidates got so bad on the night of the vote last month that a Hartford police officer threatened to start arresting people. Not a very classy display.
The vote last week in which majority leader rJo Winch was elected to the post of city council president, replacing Mr. Segarra, was equally contentious, replete with charges that Ms. Winch would do the bidding of former Mayor Perez.
Enough. Hartford has far and away the highest rate of unemployment in the state and leads in other negative categories as well. The city faces a dire budgetary situation. The mayor understands this. The council needs to drop the boxing gloves, go light on the symbolic gestures and get to work.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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