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Leece: ‘In God’ is about unity

Displaying national motto wouldn’t encourage religion, but patriotism, mayor pro tem says. Councilwoman Foley says any possible display should include other religious figures.

August 11, 2009|By Alan Blank

Costa Mesa took a step toward possibly displaying the motto “In God We Trust” in the city’s Council Chambers Tuesday night.

Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece brought the issue to her council colleagues at a study session, asking them to consider inscribing the phrase in the chambers and characterizing the motto as a secular show of unity, rather than an endorsement of religion.

“The intent is to encourage patriotism. It’s not religious; it’s a completely secular purpose,” Leece said.

Thirteen cities in Orange County, including Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley, already display “In God We Trust” in their chambers. Depending on how Costa Mesa decides to showcase the motto, if it does make that decision, it could cost up to $3,500, the city estimates.

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Leece said that she was already working on getting private funding for the project.

Mayor Allan Mansoor said he liked the idea as long as the city doesn’t have to spend any of its own money.

“My only concern is that I would like to be inclusive of all religions,” said Councilwoman Katrina Foley.

She proposed incorporating pictures of other world religious symbols like the Star of David and the Buddha into the design of the motto — a proposal that Mansoor didn’t support and said was unnecessary because the phrase was not meant as a religious gesture.

A few different designs will be drawn up and the council will consider them at a later meeting, per council’s orders.

In other news, the council approved new contracts with the union representing city firefighters. On a 3-2 vote, with Mansoor and Councilman Eric Bever voting against, the city agreed to augment retirement benefits — changing them to 3% at 50 instead of 3% at 55 — in exchange for the firefighters’ forgoing a scheduled pay raise and agreeing to staff fewer people.

Police officers and staff members agreed to furloughs amounting to a 5% pay cut at the last meeting.


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