Town passes ordinance, sensing threat from world organization
Fri, July 6, 2001 00:00:00
The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY -- Forget all that peacekeeping and humanitarian stuff. The tiny Utah town of La Verkin doesn't want any part of the United Nations.
Sensing a threat from the world organization, the La Verkin City Council held a special session on Independence Day to approve an anti-U.N. ordinance by a vote of 3-2.
Many of the law's supporters fear their land is in jeopardy from the United Nations.
The 3,300 folks in this southwestern Utah town 22 miles from Zion National Park, are keenly protective of their property, always looking out for federal - or in this case, international - interference.
The law prohibits the city from spending money to support the United Nations or putting U.N. insignia on city property.
Two-thirds of Utah is owned by the federal government, and those who favor the ordinance say U.N. environmental policies could sway how the feds use that land.
That's what prompted Councilman Al Snow to propose the ordinance. And he's not afraid of those who might question the wisdom of the move.
"Oh, I imagine that every time you stand up for freedom, you're a radical, aren't you? But this isn't radical. When you stand up for freedom, God is there with you. And that's what it's all about," Snow said. He added that he is doing this for his grandchildren.
But the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Utah chapter, Carol Gnade, said the law is misguided.
In her view, the law violates residents' freedom of speech, association and privacy.
"If they're doing it for their grandchildren, they should teach them some tolerance," Gnade said.
Snow got the idea for the U.N. ban from Texan Daniel New. New is the father of former Army medic Michael New, who was court-martialed in 1996 after refusing to wear a U.N. beret and insignia for peacekeeping duty in Macedonia.
New also gave the town a draft of the ordinance which he is peddling across the West, said Councilman Kelly Wilson.
"Some believe, and it's apparently true, that the U.N. is supporting the global environmental movement. That's absolutely wrong, tying up the public land. I think it's a big issue all over the West," said Wilson, who voted against the ordinance, wanting instead to outline their anti-U.N. stance in a resolution rather than an ordinance.
Rhonda Shore, spokeswoman for the State Department, said the United Nations makes only nonbinding resolutions about the environment, which individual governments are free to ignore. U.N. officials said they had no comment, though several said they had heard about La Verkin's ordinance.
Virgin, a town of 400 six miles east of La Verkin, also is considering the anti-U.N. ordinance.
So far, that town is best known for its ordinance requiring residents to own guns.