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Allegheny County Council's motto plan expands

| Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 11:09 p.m.

One motto wasn't enough.

A proposal to post “In God We Trust” in Allegheny County Council's meeting room expanded on Thursday to include “e pluribus unum,” which means in Latin “out of many, one” and “virtue, liberty and independence,” Pennsylvania's motto.

“Instead of this becoming a religious thing, it becomes something to honor our mottoes' history,” said Councilman Ed Kress, R-Shaler, whose amendment tripled the mottoes.

Members of council's Government Reform Committee voted to send the amended bill to the full council for a vote. Councilwoman Barbara Daly Danko, D-Regent Square, cast the lone vote against the proposal. Council members have not discussed how much posting the mottoes would cost.

“Why are we even doing this?” Danko asked. “I don't know if any of us were elected to put a plaque up in the Gold Room.”

Council holds its twice-monthly meetings in the Gold Room of the Allegheny County Courthouse, Downtown.

Councilwoman Sue Means, R-Bethel Park, introduced a proposal in July to post “In God We Trust” and the Bill of Rights on a plaque in the Gold Room. Her proposal is part of a national movement to put the phrase in municipal and county government meeting rooms. About 380 counties and municipalities in the United States have approved displaying the motto, Means said.

The state House approved a bill in June allowing schools to post “In God We Trust” and the Bill of Rights, a step back from an earlier bill that mandated it. Butler County and Butler city officials approved placing the phrase in their meeting rooms in April.

Means, who supported the amendment adding other mottoes, said council should post “In God We Trust” for patriotic and historic reasons. She did not mention religion.

State Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, has urged posting “In God We Trust” in Western Pennsylvania municipal buildings. He addressed council members in July.

“This is not a religious issue, this is a history issue,” Saccone told council members.

Audrey Glickman, 57, of Greenfield said that is “baloney.” The debate over “In God We Trust” is a religious issue, Glickman said. She addressed council twice about her opposition to displaying “In God We Trust” and attended Thursday's meeting. She doesn't support the amended proposal.

“It's other citizens trying to impose their religion,” Glickman said. “Religion should be out of the civil sphere. When we go to do the people's business, if we are open and honest about it, then we are serving whatever we believe in.”

Council will likely vote on posting the mottoes and the Bill of Rights at its Sept. 9 meeting.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

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