STEUBENVILLE - Mayor Domenick Mucci called upon supporters of the city's unofficial logo to "stay united" as city officials review their options in light of a threatened lawsuit by a Madison, Wis., organization.
But the supporters who packed City Council chambers Tuesday night urged council members to officially adopt the logo and to fight attempts by the freedom from Religion Foundation to remove the cross and a silhouette of the Franciscan University of Steubenville's Christ the King Chapel from the logo.
"This all started when the city manager and the City Council thought it would be nice to have a logo that encompasses all aspects of the city. This council embraced the logo because we all wanted it to be inclusive of everything we have here. We decided we would use the logo so it would catch on. But we should have assumed someone would challenge such a beautiful logo," said Mucci in remarks to a standing-room-only crowd in City Council chambers Tuesday night.
LOGO SUPPORTER – John Saggio of Steubenville was one of several speakers Tuesday night supporting the unofficial city logo that contains a cross and the silhouette of the Franciscan University of Steubenville Christ the King Chapel. The standing-room-only audience urged council members to officially adopt the logo that is under attack from the Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison, Wis. -- Dave Gossett
"The logo was painted in the Martin Luther King Recreation Center gymnasium and 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto included the logo on the billboard sign at the entrance to Belleview Park that Councilman DiLoreto paid for. But the logo was never officially adopted by the council. We surely did embrace it, but we did not officially adopt it. We will find out how legitimate the complaint by the freedom from Religion Foundation really is since we didn't adopt it," continued Mucci.
"We are finding out there are organizations willing to assist the city. The city manager and law director are sorting through those offers. But we can move forward even without the logo. And I can assure that while the logo may not appear on city vehicles or stationary, it will appear throughout the city," added Mucci.
"I urge you to adopt the logo. Make it legal so you can use it. If there are any residents who don't like the logo, let them come forward. How do we really know there is a resident who is complaining. Don't throw this logo away because someone didn't like it," urged city resident Mary King.
"I don't understand why the Ku Klux Klan can burn a cross and it is considered protected speech. But putting a cross on a logo is considered wrong. I also urge you to adopt the logo," Wintersville resident Albert Macre said.
Marshall Myers of the Knights of Columbus presented petitions signed by more than 300 people last weekend at St. Peter Catholic Church in Steubenville supporting keeping the cross and chapel silhouette in the logo.
And, John Saggio of Steubenville said the FFRF "has a problem with God. That is really where the issue is."
"The city is talking about doing away with the emblem because one person said (he or she was) offended. Well I am offended when someone can say I can't represent Jesus Christ. We stopped prayer in the schools and now we have less people in school and more people in prison. Once you start this it will affect your children, your children's children and your children's children's children," stated Minister Willa Wade of Steubenville.
DiLoreto announced the Belleview Park entrance sign he paid for will not be changed to exclude the logo.
In other business during the regular council meeting, 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich called for a council safety committee meeting at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the possibility of reinstating traffic cameras.
Lalich said putting traffic cameras in school zones and in neighborhoods where residents are complaining about speeders may be the answer to a limited police force.
"The cameras may also generate additional revenue that will allow the city to hire more police officers. We will discuss this in an open meeting and decide if we want to proceed," said Lalich.
Council formally approved legislation authorizing the expansion of the Steel Valley Regional Transit Authority to allow the village of Wintersville to join Steubenville and Mingo Junction in the authority.
Council also approved appropriations legislation and a tax budget for the remainder of the year and adopted a tax budget for 2013.
An ordinance renaming the city's FEMA Fund as the Emergency Management Fund also was approved after a third reading.
A second reading for a revised employee table of organization was heard but also came under fire from former city finance department employee Lori Mason, who questioned the salary for new fire Chief Carlo Capaldi.
"The fire chief's salary will be the same as the police chief's salary. We can't put more police on the streets if we are going to give salaries that will put us in a deficit by 2014. If the fire chief deserves a raise, give it to him after a period of time on the job. An immediate raise is not fair," said Mason.
Council also heard from Joseph Antoniello of the Students for a Fair Society who questioned poverty and crimes in poor communities.
Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf called for a council pride committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. prior to the Aug. 14 regular meeting to discuss Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce ideas for a new entrance to the city at Washington Street and state Route 7.
"We will also hear an update on 4th Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs' ideas for neighborhood beautification," said Metcalf.
Fifth Ward Councilman Willie Paul called for less emergency legislation to be brought before council.
"We need to receive the proposed legislation earlier so we can study it and not face emergency passage of ordinances," said Paul.
And council unanimously approved Tyrone Thomas to replace William Welsh on the city planning and zoning commission. Welsh resigned citing his inability to serve full time on the commission.