By JIM MAURER
CAREY — Both Carey Mayor Armand Getz and Law Director Emily Beckley, who said they have received threats after the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer were not recited at the last council meeting, announced Monday they are resigning, effective April 1.
During Monday’s meeting before a packed council chambers, Carey Council voted unanimously to have resolutions prepared to allow the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence, rather than a formal prayer, at the beginning of council meetings.
Getz announced at the March 6 meeting the pledge would no longer be recited. At that meeting, Beckley also recommended the same for the prayer, based on her research of a Michigan village which was sued over reciting the prayer during the council meeting. She recommended, based on her research, council dispense with the prayer to avoid any potential lawsuit.
It was following council’s action Monday that Getz read a lengthy statement announcing his resignation. Getz had announced earlier this year he would not seek election in the November election.
He said since the decision two weeks ago, there have been threats made if both were not reinstated. Those threats “would have a very real implication to the health, safety and welfare of the Village of Carey.” He would not elaborate on specifics of those threats.
“I choose to live in a world of black and white, good and bad, right and wrong,” Getz said.
“Council’s decision to regulate how council meetings are conducted lies somewhere in the gray area. The law states that the mayor has the power to run council meetings as he or she chooses, and by legislating away that power or any other powers that the laws and the statutes of the state and local government grants to that position simply because their personal opinion differs is wrong.
“This gray area extends from the ‘just’ and ‘lawful’ and goes all the way down to, and tiptoes on, the line of unjust and corrupt. I feel operating in that area is a good way to get into trouble.”
He said it was his decision, not the law director’s to stop reciting the pledge and the Lord’s Prayer. Beckley was asked to research the prayer issue.
“My decision was based on another’s perspective if attending one of our council meetings. Would they feel comfortable refraining from saying the prayer or Pledge of Allegiance, or would they feel coerced into participating despite their personal beliefs?”
Getz said the federal court case “has everything to do with us.”
“If I thought for one minute that someone could conscientiously object to one or both the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance and not suffer any adverse consequences, I would have left it alone.”
A U.S. Air Force veteran, Getz served four years active duty, including time in the Persian Gulf, and four years in the reserves. His background in military and public service “… serves to strengthen my resolve in my decision. Reciting the prayer at our council meetings is not a religious test nor is reciting the Pledge of Allegiance proof of our patriotism, nor should they be.”
Likewise, Beckley made emotionally-charged comments following Getz in which she said Getz and herself both have gotten threats since the last council meeting.
“This ‘us versus them’ mentality has to stop,” she said and personal attacks are “not what we are,” and “not the Carey we know.”
The last two weeks have been “unbelievable,” she said.
She said she would like to continue in her job but that she could not prepare the legislation requested by council. She said the legislation “would take away the mayor’s authority as the person (responsible for) running the meeting.”
About 15 members of the Carey Fire Department attended the meeting, including Chief Chad Snyder, who requested the pledge be returned to the agenda.
Several residents also spoke in favor of the pledge, including Bob Myers, a veteran, who said the action “was disrespectful to all those who died (while serving) under the flag.”
Council’s next meeting will be held April 3; however, without a law director, it is uncertain if the legislation for the pledge and moment of silence will be prepared by then.
Send an E-mail to Jim Maurer