At this special and festive time of year for people of various faiths, it is disconcerting to read that Oro Valley's interim manager, Jerene Watson, has decided to be "politically correct" on a very important issue to so many of us.
Through her pre-holiday directive, she instructed all Oro Valley employees that no overt seasonal decorations would be allowed in public view in deference to people who find such embellishments offensive or contrary to their own personal beliefs.
I say, what about the vast majority of people who do not find it offensive? Sadly, this directive even prompted the removal of Halloween decorations from the Oro Valley Town Hall's reception area. Really now, how is Halloween offensive and to whom? Ask the children.
Last year, and in previous years, our Town Hall was decorated with lights and a wreath. This year, that ended. Of note, the City of Tucson decided similarly but Pima County acted, in my view, appropriately. The Pima County Administration building, the Superior Court and, the County Recorder's office all had numerous displays to include Christmas trees, wrapped gifts, garlands and wreaths in their reception and lobby areas. It seems that our County Administrator, Charles Huckleberry, dealt with this matter in a fair and positive way by allowing his departments to determine how employees want to recognize the holidays without directing them. Chuck said, "No complaints; we let common sense prevail." Of note, the Arizona State Government building in downtown Tucson has a Christmas tree in its lobby.
Our neighbors in Marana did it all … their Town Hall has decorated trees, colored lights in the courtyard and, yes, lighted Menorahs marking Hanukka for our Jewish community – a great move.
Our governor, even as she was dealing with a major state financial crisis, took time out in early-December to officially declare Arizona a Christmas and Hanukka "safe zone" for state employees. In her executive order, Gov. Brewer said "any executive branch agency that reports to me cannot stop employees from personally celebrating either holiday. That includes putting items that are traditionally associated with the holidays on their desks."
Similarly, and to her credit, the governor barred those branch agencies from stopping state employees from wishing others either a "Merry Christmas" or a "Happy Hanukkah." Governor Brewer said her move was necessary because, "State and local officials in Arizona (and elsewhere) in the past have attempted to strip both Christmas and Hanukka of their meaning."
In my humble opinion, Gov. Jan Brewer has not lost her "moral compass." Rather, she has dealt with this sensitive and political hot button in what most would say was a fair and sensitive manner. It serves as a reminder to each of us that we should not shut out folks who believe in Christmas and Hanukka (the majority of Americans) because of some who do not believe that way. I believe it is time that we get back to doing the right thing instead of making decisions and judgments based on who might be offended because of different beliefs.
For Christmas, it should be "Merry Christmas" and for Hanukka, it should be "Happy Hanukka" as it was for centuries. We should never be ashamed of our rich heritage and traditions which our founding fathers addressed.
Happy New Year!
A few days before Christmas, Oro Valley officials allowed some decorations to be placed in the town hall lobby, including a small table-top tree and other items. – Ed.
Tom Plantz is a retired health care executive living in Oro Valley.