News in Brief: Mayor Proposes Banning City Meetings on Religious Holidays

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Responding to criticism from religious groups, Mayor Shirley Dean has proposed a measure for tomorrow's City Council meeting that would prohibit public meetings on major religious holidays.

A group of concerned community members sent a letter to Dean last month notifying her that several city commission meetings were scheduled on the first night of Passover, a Jewish holiday.

Viki Tamaradze said she requested that the meetings be rescheduled to include the comments of Jewish community members. She said she delivered the letter on the day of the meeting, but neither the city manager nor the mayor acted on it.

"The bad thing was that no one responded," she said. "All they had to do was make a phone call to the secretaries of the commissions."

Dean apologized for the problem and is recommending that the city manager's office prepare a calendar of all major religious holidays. It will include dates for Christianity, Judaism and possibly Islam, she said.

"I always thought that it was (already) city policy," she said. "It appears that there's been some slip-up."

Dean said her office was unavailable because a staff member had locked the door due to harassment from a "mentally disturbed" person.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington said the proposal to create a calendar of religious holidays is harder than it sounds.

"How do we define what religions we take seriously and which ones we don't?" he asked. "We want to show respect for all religions including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism."

Will Evans


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