Pledge of Allegiance sparks debate

NEW MILFORD — Board of Finance Chairman Gale Alexander sparked a minor controversy last week when he omitted the Pledge of Allegiance from the board’s meeting agenda.

When Beth Falder, a member of the board, requested that the pledge be recited, Alexander readily agreed. But afterward she posted about the omission on Facebook, prompting a deluge of emails and phone calls to Mayor David Gronbach.

“I was surprised that it was not initially recited and have instructed all town boards to recite the pledge at the beginning of each meeting,” Gronbach said later. “The Pledge affirms that we as public servants serve a cause greater than political party, and it is important to remind ourselves of that at the beginning of each meeting.”

Alexander said Falder “overreacted.”

“Beth was never told we couldn’t, shouldn’t, or wouldn’t say the pledge,” Alexander said. “I was simplifying the agenda so it just stated our business. Not listing the pledge on the agenda indicates no prejudice against it on my part. Many chairs before me didn’t include it on the agenda, but that didn’t stop members from reciting it if they wished.”

Falder was still bothered that the pledge would not be a formal part of the meetings.

“I think it sets the mood for the meeting and reminds us of why we are there,” Falder said. “Ever since I’ve been in town government, the pledge has been part of the meeting.”

The pledge is recited at Town Meetings and meetings of the Town Council, Board of Education and Economic Development Commission. It is not normally said at land use boards and commissions, Parks & Recreation or the commissions on aging and the arts.; 203-731-3352