The Revere City Council approved a motion co-sponsored by Councillors George Rotondo and Richard Serino that the Council recommend to all boards the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance before all city board and commission meetings held in the Council Chambers.
City Solicitor Paul Capizzi was called upon to give a legal opinion on the matter at the outset of the discussion.
“What do you want to know?” Capizzi asked the Council.
“I already know the answer,” said Rotondo. “But at the end of the day, as someone who served as military, along with Councillor Novoselsky, I feel this [the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance] is something that should be done. I know people have a right not to do it, and that’s their choice.”
Capizzi said if the city were to codify such a requirement in the city’s ordinances, “it would be subject to litigation.”
Capizzi said he was concerned about a potential legal challenge that could cost the city a lot of money in defense of the ordinance. “The fact is we would have to defend it. It’s our ordinance. I feel like this is a solution in search of a problem. I don’t know why we’re even proposing this, but that’s my personal opinion,” said Capizzi.
Novoselsky suggested the Council should give a “high recommendation” to Mayor Brian Arrigo “that the chairperson of the committee highly recommend the offering of the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Councillor-at-Large Steven Morabito, who was chairing the Legislative Affairs Subcommittee meeting where the discussion was held, asked Ward 6 Councillor Richard Serino if disciplinary action should be taken if the chairperson failed to conduct the Pledge of Allegiance.
“This is just a simple recommendation that we [the Council] feel strongly that boards and commissions should begin with the Pledge of Allegiance,” said Serino.
Janine Grillo Marra, chair of the Revere Human Rights Commission (HRC), said that after a conversation about the issue at the October HRC meeting some of the highlights of that conversation were, “First and foremost for someone to not state the pledge, that does not mean they are unpatriotic. Second, our Commission more so than any other Commission is tasked specifically with issues around inclusion.
“Because the word, God, is in the Pledge of Allegiance, and there is not a separation of church and state, there are people that do not believe in God – that’s not their religion or their spirituality, and so it just does not express a sense of inclusion, and those were some of the concerns we had as a Commission,” said Marra.
Morabito recommended that the Council hold off on the vote “since there’s going to be a new Council in a month-and-a-half,” but quickly withdrew that recommendation.
The members of the Legislative Affairs Subcommittee unanimously supported the measure, a vote that was later affirmed by the entire City Council.