Flap over Flag Pledge

So down at Orange Coast College, a public institution provided by the government for the benefit of its citizens, we have some student trustees who decided to ban the Pledge of Allegiance. Three recently elected student trustees (who ran for office wearing revolutionary-style berets and afterward created their “Manifesto of Student Government 2006-2007”), said they do not believe in publicly swearing an oath to the American flag and government at their school.

Ooo-kay, that’s fine, but then they wanted to force their personal opinion on the rest of the student body, and censure the pledge altogether.

Not to be outdone, a wussy spokeswoman for the Coast Community College District, said her office would bravely take a “no position” on the flag salute ban.

“If their personal belief is that they don't want to say the Pledge of Allegiance, the district certainly isn't going to dictate what they do,” she whimpered.

This office of academic achievement was altogether stymied on ways to offer any kind of instructive statement on the hypocrisy of biting-the-hand-that-feeds, or slapping the hand that proffers. In America, a free education is available to all citizens – regardless of race, color, sex, political orientation, handicapped personal ethics, or even folks who are gratitude-challenged.

It might have also been altogether educational – since this was an institution of some higher learning – to promote thoughtful discussion and debate on the meaning of the pledge.

So a child shall lead them – or in this case, an 18-year-old sophomore – Christine Zoldos.

“America is the one thing I'm passionate about and I can't let them take that away from me,” Zoldos, a political science major and former vice-president of the student trustee board, said unapologetically to Reuters. “The fact that they have enough power to ban one of the most valued traditions in America is just horrible.”

Zoldos said she would attend every board meeting to salute the flag – during the “public comment” portion of the agenda.

Within two weeks, the pledge turned into a full-blown controversy, with administrators complaining to the trustees that the college’s reputation had suffered nationwide. The 68-year-old student president, Lynne Riddle, actually blamed 18-year-old Zoldos for the commotion. (Then Zoldos, in turn, questioned why Riddle – a former judge – did not relegate herself to an advisory role rather than taking major positions within the campus newspaper and government that should have gone to young students needing first-hand experience and seeking to build their résumés.)

Specifically, the student trustees didn't want to publicly vow loyalty to the American government before their meetings. Three of five Associated Students trustees took the action, with newly elected board member Jason Ball calling the flag salute “irrelevant to the business of student government.”

“Nationalism is something that divides people,” said Ball, who wore black boots, the revolutionary-style beret and a hammer-and-sickle pin.

The Santa Barbara connection in all of this? Zoldos was in the first class of the Young America’s Leadership Program last summer. This program teaches young leaders (among many things) critical thinking skills and to articulate and defend their positions to bring about positive changes in society. So I guess she learned her lessons well.

But what was all the passion over the pledge and why did it mean so much to Zoldos in the first place? Throughout her life, she had heard firsthand the value of freedom and the benefits of the America way of life. Her grandfather and prominent local realtor, Stephen Zoldos, escaped from communist Hungary nearly 60 years ago.

Bye George

I will miss George Anderjack coming into the beautiful annual holiday party of the Santa Barbara Historical Society. Executive director of the Historical Society for the past dozen years, Anderjack decided the time was right to return to his beloved Tennessee. As he wrapped up the calendar year, and the society is within a few months of finishing that awful soil abatement project, and well on its way to the museum expansion project, Anderjack saw that many of his objectives had been met.

His energy, enthusiasm and accomplishments have turned that organization around into a class act – with outstanding programs (and parties!) now in place.

He is looking forward to enjoying the holidays with his three daughters back in Nashville.

Museum Curator David Bisol is now serving as interim executive director.

At the Butt End…

Here’s a “crappy” holiday prank. Last week, police were called to an office building on upper State Street, where thieves had stolen – get ready for this – a toilet.

The bathrooms require a key to get in, but some accomplice had taped the door so some John could get his john later in the middle of the night. While looking for clues in the bowl-less bathroom, the police have nothing to go on. Folks told the detective to use his head, but there wasn’t any. (All joking aside, this really did happen.)

This also opens the possibility for a good Dave Barry joke about low-flow toilets, and people taking desperate measures to procure an (illegal) old normal toilet. However, this was a commercial toilet! Considering the time (and tools) needed to get the toilet out of this high-rent neighborhood (La Cumbre and State area), they would have been ahead to just go to OSH and pick up a brand new one.

The theft is now the butt of jokes around the offices there. And on law enforcement’s list of priorities, this theft is number one and number two.

Congratulazioni Dick

Regulars at Via Vai in the Upper Village for pizza, know the friendly face of Dick Prato.

Well now they are congratulating him – for being elected “Man of The Year” by the Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California.

Nominated by the Italian American Boot Club in Santa Barbara (that he started nearly 30 years ago), his fellow Santa Barbara Italians praised him for his hard-working, humble spirit. “With all that he does, Dick is the most modest and humble person we know,” his nomination papers read. “His warm and kind manner is the glue that has shaped and formed the strong sense of community in Santa Barbara. He has earned the respect of all who know him because he exudes respect for everyone he encounters.”

Meanwhile, Prato just celebrated his 40th anniversary with wife, Judy. Double congratulations!

One More Thing…

Happy Birthday to Father Virgil Cordano! 88 years young!