Doral officials and several religious leaders on Wednesday unveiled a prominent wall fixture stating “In God We Trust” that hangs over the city seal above the council dais.
In June, the council unanimously approved mounting the display. The phrase is regarded as a national motto and has been printed on U.S. currency since 1864. “In God We Trust” also is Florida’s state motto and is featured prominently on the state’s seal.
The move comes about six months after Miami-Dade County placed a similar fixture in its council chambers in May. The city’s county commissioner, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, was a primary proponent of the item when it came before the county.
“A supreme being has been part of our national heritage since the Declaration of Independence stated that ‘we are imbued by our creator with inalienable rights’ and the installation of this motto in our chambers affirms that bond,” said Mayor Luigi Boria in a news release from the city.
The ceremony featured several religious figures from the area, including Pastors Ricky Fernandez, Edwin Castro, and Steve Alessi, Father Israel Mago, and Rabbi Avhrohom Brashevitzky. All took turns thanking both God and the council for what Fernandez called a “historic” occasion.
At the end of the ceremony, Fernandez asked those in the council chambers to rise and join him in prayer, to which the overwhelming majority obliged.
“I want to declare that this city be bonded to the United States and to God, so almighty god may come into every resident and that they may feel the trust,” Fernandez said. “In precious Jesus’ name, we pray.”
Only one resident objected to the display.
Changing chairs: At the morning session of the council meeting, Christi Fraga was announced as the city’s new vice mayor — taking over a seat previously held by Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz. This marks a change in city policy. The vice mayor’s chair now will be automatically rotated every November in an attempt to “take the politics out” of the position. Previous policy involved council members being nominated for the position by their colleagues and having the council vote on it. Fraga previously served as vice mayor in 2013. Next year, Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez will serve as vice mayor.
Vietnam memorial: Council unanimously approved a discussion item that places a battle cross sculpture at Veteran’s Park. Ralph West is a Vietnam war veteran who bought the sculpture on the Internet from an artist who was also a veteran of the war. West says that he has tried to gift the sculpture to different government bodies and municipalities for the past six or seven years with no success. The city agreed to pay for all expenses related to installation. The bronze statue features combat boots, a rifle and a helmet and is the only Vietnam-specific memorial in Miami-Dade County. The sculpture will be unveiled as part of the city’s Veterans’ Day festivities next week, and it will be dedicated on Memorial Day next year.
Ethics and travel ordinances: Two controversial ordinances died on Tuesday. The first involved an item that would have taxpayers pay attorney fees for city officials in matters before the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics. The second involved creation of a city fund dedicated to an economic development and international trade travel program. Both items were originally brought up at an August special council meeting. Special meetings are typically reserved for emergency items. The August items were deferred because they did not meet the “emergency” criteria in the city’s charter. Both bills were eventually passed at the next council meeting on first reading. However, support for both items disappeared once final approval was needed. No council members put their names behind either ordinance on Wednesday. Councilman Pete Cabrera consistently supported both items, and was present for the majority of the council meeting, but was not present when these items came up at the end of the evening session.
THEY SAID IT
“It’s not only good public policy, but it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars.” – Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz, on the use of city funds to include a Vietnam War memorial in a city park.
YOU SAID IT
“I am offended. Not all of us believe in God. I, for one, don’t. For you to take it upon yourself to invite a parade of people to come here and have a Sunday sermon to introduce four words is offensive to me.” – Luimar Garza, who added that the city should include emblems from different religions across the world.