“God save the United States and this honorable court,” this is part of the opening prayer statement that the U.S Supreme Court opens its sessions with, it also relevant that the city commissions of the city of Royal Oak, Michigan also opens with a prayer thanking God and asking him to bless others for the Thanksgiving Holiday. The City’s commission also begins with facing the flag and stating the Pledge of Allegiance which also included the citizens of Royal Oak as well. The opening of the session was what surprised me most, and I say that because it has been banned that teachers can no longer lead students in prayer at the beginning of the day in pubic schools, but the U.S Supreme Court, Congress and city governments continue to open their meetings and start their day out with a prayer though they rule this to the American People as “unconstitutional.” Also the stating of the “Pledge of Allegiance” has also been ruled out in many schools and can no longer be pledge in public schools, there has even been a debate whether to remove the statement “In God we Trust,” which in conclusion was ruled out and continues to stand. This show to be a true controversy because under the first amendment it is interpreted that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
In a particular case Engel v. Vitale case where in the State of New York A state board of regents in the late 1950’s established a statement on “Moral and Spiritual training in school,” part of that statement was “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.” The Board of Education of Union Free School District No. 9 of New Hyde Park, NY, had the board of regents have the students to recite this to teachers at days beginning. It made its way to the Supreme Court when parents of the students complained that it conflicted with their religion, and religious practices, they put out a lawsuit against the State of New York Court, the state of New York court rule that it was ok as long as teachers did not force students to say the statement, but parents argued this and used the Constitutions first amendment.
In the Supreme Courts ruling, they ruled that indeed prayer in public schools was unconstitutional and the statement established by the board of regents was also, that under the first amendment governments and I quote “compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite as a part of a religious program carried on by government,” unquote and its meaning was interpreted that governments religious programs can not imply one religion better over another. What is controversial about this is that religion and God has been mentioned by government in examples such as the National Anthem, the National Motto “In God we Trust,” the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance, and how the Supreme Court opens with Prayer. There were many reactions to the Engel v. Vitale case after the courts decision New York Representative Frank Becker stated that this was “The most tragic in the history of the United states.” or how Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina said” I should like to ask whether we would be far wrong in saying that in this decision the Supreme Court has held that God is unconstitutional and for that reason the public school must be segregated against Him?”
Royal Oak commissions discussions is similar to that of the Supreme Court as viewed in the Gideon v. Wainwright movie during class, except that the Mayor of Royal Oak Jim Ellison sits in the middle, and speaks first, similar to the U.S Supreme Court but the Chief Justice sits in the middle and speaks first. Other similarities can be like the Supreme Court there is a flag present, and citizens of the United States of America. Also that when the agendas have been discussed the board members vote only, similar to that of the justices and their ruling. However there are many differences, such as in the Supreme Court cases are heard, tried, and sentenced, and are debated by present lawyers with their clients, while in Royal Oak cities commissions the meetings have a agendas that are briefed and addressed, and later pubic comments are given by the citizens but not debated, and not necessarily in regards to the meetings agenda.
The agenda discussions of the Royal Oak Commissions was the type C Bistro/Liquor License and PA 501 License, they specifically described their components, their differences in contrast to one another, how they were modified and why, the process in getting these license and the applicants eligibility to receiving the license. They began by explaining when the discussion of the license was first discussed because it was not first mentioned in Royal Oak. It was first prompted in 2006 where an amendment was passed that admitted different types of liquor licenses but would provide for different opportunities for communities for a spur of economic developments. So this amendment that was passed created more types of liquor license to communities in hopes of spurring economic growth. It was mentioned that at a time that Birmingham did not allow certain types of liquor licenses but now allows them to diners but with a more focused on food consumption than liquor consumption. Under state rules and regulation of liquor licenses the license was permitted to sell for retail, and that a community is granted one C Bistro liquor license on a premises. Also under those regulations and rules as a population of a city increased the more type C licenses they could have, for the city of Royal Oak it was permitted 40 C license but as of November 2 2008, the population of Royal Oak decreased so there are a number of 45 type C license, 44 active, one in estro. Since the population of Royal Oak is decreasing legislature in Lansing came up with two new licenses “Redevelopment project license and development license, called PA 501 licenses which was created to attempt to spur economic development and to offer additional opportunities to communities.
Components of the PA 501 alternative licenses such as:
- The license is not transferable
- If business closes license is returned to state MLCC
- The license can be surrendered to MLCC to another applicant for that license
Commission then went on to explain business eligibility for the license there are;
There business have to accommodate a diner, entertainment or recreation
- Has to be open to public
- Seating capacity has to be fifty or more
- Had to had to attempt to obtain a quota license but was denied
- Pay a fee of 20,000 that goes to the state
To obtain a PA 501 license the process is rather long, the business must be investigated first by the state, then it’s taken to the cities police department, who are contacted with a request for investigation and recommendation from the city, the city makes a decision and then it goes back the state. (MLCC) In contrast to a business applying for a type C Bistro license the process is opposite. It would first be investigated by the city and city would approve and then it would go to Lansing for investigation and approval where it would then be issued. Also in another contrast to the city of Birmingham in obtaining a type C Bistro license is different also such as:
- The business has to have a seating capacity of 65 or more
- The business also has to have an outdoor seating area
In conclusion people from outside the city of Royal Oak can come and obtain a PA 501 license as well.
After the components of the new license were explained the floor was then open for discussion and debate from board members and their views on the license, the thing that came up as debate was limiting the characteristics of the license and who should be able to obtain the license, if outside business could apply. The new licenses were then voted on and all members of the board were in favor of.
There were other criteria’s on the agenda that was discussed also; CMN the Community Media Network whose director is Jay Weinko is Royal Oak’s television production company. Jay Weinko presented the board with a slide presentation on updates and new ideas for the city of Royal Oak of those were:
- Investments in facility and equipment
- Training services
- Outreach to non-profits enhanced branding efforts financial accountability
And the other agenda discussion was on the Cost Management for contracting Operational Management for parking structures. Where they discussed the types of parking constructions, and companies, and their conclusion and decision on that was that Royal Oak wanted to save money so they went us the Parking Company by the name of Camco.
The last discussion was from the letter from chairman of the downtown development authority regarding DDA items as requested by commissioner Drinkwine.
The argument was who should run and participate in the Royal Oak Parade. The Mayor Kim Ellison closed with closing remarks, adjured the meeting.