Reed College is a private educational institution located in Portland Oregon.
According to the Princeton Review it has been identified as one of the top 10 most liberal colleges in the United States.
Why would Reed be of any interest to one considering the ramifications of the Lafayette Cross dust up?
Bear with us and all will become clear...
In 2005 as the first event in that year's public policy lectures, Reed College hosted conservative firebrand David Horowitz, speaking about his Academic Bill of Rights, an idea he devised in an attempt to counter the overwhelmingly leftist cant of modern American academia.
Set up in debate format, Mr. Horowitz faced off against Reed's Dean of the Faculty, Peter Steinberger.
What followed was so contentious on the part of Mr. Steinberger, outraged that someone would challenge the leftist domination of higher education, that he referred to Horowitz during the event as "a political pornographer" among other epithets.
This forced Reed's president to take the unusual step to demand that Steinberger publicly apologize for his demonstration of intemperance, see "So why was I so mean to David Horowitz?"
Reed College is also the site of an anti-Iraq war memorial quite similar to that which has been the source of controversy in the East Bay Area suburb of Lafayette, California.
Instead of crosses, Reed's display features little white flags [with the significance of a white flag, possibly being lost on the coordinators of this pr effort] to signify dead Iraqis [based upon the bogus British Lancet magazine study of the country's war deaths] and with red flags being used to symbolize fallen U.S. servicemen.
While such media-wise efforts are by no means unique on American college campuses we feel that it is of great pertinence to the local debate.
Because Lafayette's City Manager Steven Falk is a graduate of both Reed [class 86] as well as the Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, possibly the citadel of nanny-state governance.
We feel that provides some perspective on why Mr. Falk has so unfairly tipped the city's response to the hillside memorial in favor of a small band of leftists who are allied with the George Soros funded 527, MoveOn.org.
It's not a conspiracy and it's not guilt by association. What it consists of is an attitude reflected by these institutions and by extension Mr. Falk, in which the alleged rights of a small vocal and activist minority trump the larger and more defensible right of a community to be secure from visual assault and having their local laws, such as signage codes used against them as a pretext to defend something that in another context would have been subjected to a withering and official legal assault by the city.
Mr. Falk's judgment in this entire matter has been off base, at every juncture he has decided against the interests of his constituents, bending signage codes to defend an ugly, in your face tantrum on a highly visible and heretofore beautifully natural hillside, on the faux basis, argued by the ACLU that it is protected political speech which should be essentially unregulated.
But what about city residents who oppose for whatever reason the war in Iraq, or the war in Afghanistan or the larger so-called war on terror? Why should they too reject the city's imposed settlement here?
Simply because it is unfair and is tainted with a haughty paternalistic attitude that the government knows best and that even phony “free speech" has neither limitations nor boundaries. All should recognize that this is a sword which can and will cut both ways.
Lafayette's General Plan claims noble goals:
"The Lafayette General Plan includes goals, policies and programs pertaining to code enforcement for property maintenance, nuisance abatement, enforcement of the Sign Ordinance, and conservation and improvement of the city's housing stock."
Yet there has been demonstrated in this affair almost zero concern for the thousands who traverse Deer Hill road every day and who stream into and out of the BART station from dawn to dusk, or to parents like Lafayette resident Mike Valerio who testified at the April 9 Council meeting that his 5 year old daughter was extremely distraught because she "thinks that there are bodies buried under each cross" on the hillside.
Additionally, the City of Lafayette asserts via its Municipal Code a broad range of powers and enforcement mechanisms regarding public nuisances which are especially sensitive to the "public view."
In just one small example chapter 6-23, item 4 & 5 are devoted to defining keeping a "stored vehicle not screened from public view or an adjoining property" and "Household waste, recycling, or garden waste receptacles or other trash visible from public view" as potentially public nuisances.
Such broad claims of authority to act on what are really minutae in the normal scheme of life belie the City's now extant claim of being powerless to abate the hillside cross display.
In plain english, Lafayettes' city government could act against this constant eyesore if it so chose. It seems that the theory in practice here is that while common citizens must be subservient to such measures, organized mobs fueled by outside agitators can not only ignore such, but can actually enlist the governmental power structure to secure rights to which they have no reasonable claim.
It is now the job of local citizens to convince the Mayor, Vice Mayor, City Manager and the City Council to end this charade, defy the American Civil Liberties Union and the thugs from MoveOn and take back this hillside and their city.
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