TAMPA CITY COUNCIL - Mitch Perry07/29/04
Controversy erupted this morning at the very beginning of todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Tampa City Council meeting, just before an atheist was scheduled to give the invocation, which opens every meeting.
Last month City Councilman John Dingfelder, whose turn it was to choose somebody to begin the Meeting with traditionally has been a nondenomational prayer from a reverend or rabbi, announced that Michael Harvey from the group Atheists of Florida, would give the invocation for this morningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Meeting.
But just before Harvey stepped up to microphone to deliver the invocation, City Councilman Kevin White broke in, (roll tape#1 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?that I representÃ¢â‚¬?) White said he had seen a television report last night where Harvey said he would speak about WHY there shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be an invocationÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.
Councilmember Linda Saul-Sena said she couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t support WhiteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s MotionÃ¢â‚¬Â¦. She discussed the historical background in how Councilmembers were given the right to choose people to give the Invocation at Council meetingsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦..And She defended the right of Harvey to speak (roll tape#2 Ã¢â‚¬Å“in a particular wayÃ¢â‚¬?)
Then Councilmember Dingfelder Ã¢â‚¬â€œ who had chosen Harvey, reacted viscerally,
saying that banning an atheist from speaking was tantamount to censorship.(roll tape#3 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?of contentÃ¢â‚¬?)
The City CouncilÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Attorney then said in order for Councilmember WhiteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Motion to pass , the vote would have to be unanimousÃ¢â‚¬Â¦..It was only supported by Councilmember Mary AlvarezÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Although Councilmember Rose Ferlita voted against WhiteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s motion, she went on to say why she agreed with his intent (roll tape#4 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?we should not beÃ¢â‚¬?)
Finally, after 20 minutes of these type of exchanges, Councilmember Shawn Harrison, acting as the Chair, brought up Michael Harvey from the group Atheists of FloridaÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ But about halfway through his invocation Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Harrison interrupted him (roll tape#5 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proceedÃ¢â‚¬?)
Which Harvey did for the next minute and a half. . .