Facebook Twitter

LaVerkin Council declares town a U.N.-Free Zone

SHARE LaVerkin Council declares town a U.N.-Free Zone

LAVERKIN, Washington County — The City Council voted 3-2 in a special session Wednesday night to keep the United Nations out of its business by declaring the town a United Nations-Free Zone.

"Any private party who wants to wave the U.N. flag and support the U.N. can do that," said Mayor Dan Howard Thursday morning. "This ordinance simply puts limitations on what can be done with and on city property."

More than 50 people attended the meeting, many in support of the proposed legislation. Several who spoke during the public comment period said council members were doing the right thing by "standing up to the United Nations."

The ordinance prohibits the use of U.N. insignia on city property and spending city funds to support the United Nations. A dozen changes were made to the ordinance before its passage, including clarifying language involving the payment of any taxes, the mayor said.

Some opponents of the ordinance said the new law would give people a city-sponsored reason to stop paying any taxes that might go toward payment of dues to the United Nations.

"There's been a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about this ordinance. This is not a tax dodge, and it doesn't infringe on anybody's right to free speech. We went through the ordinance before we passed it, and that's not our intent at all," Howard said.

Enforcing the ordinance, which carries a Class C misdemeanor penalty, will not be difficult either, since the city doesn't expect any violations, he added. "There's really not much that needs to be enforced, since it deals with city funds and property," the mayor said. "Although the ordinance does make a statement, it's still enforceable."

Howard, who did not have a vote on the issue, said his support of the ordinance comes from a deep desire to keep LaVerkin free from those who want to micromanage its resources and land.

He pointed to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance as one prime example of a group that needs to be watched.

"SUWA has connections to the U.N., and they're trying to tell us how we can develop our own land," Howard said. "We know what's best for us."

Mike Reberg, SUWA communications coordinator, was surprised Thursday upon hearing the mayor's concerns.

"You'll have to give me a minute here to think about that," Reberg said, laughing. "I've never had to think about how we're connected to the United Nations.

"For some people, evoking the specter of the bogeyman has always been easier than rational discourse," he said.

Two council members voted against the ordinance, saying they would rather see the city pass a resolution stating their opposition to the United Nations.

E-MAIL: nperkins@redrock.net