New City Library Board Trustee Tom Ninan asked on Thursday night for the Pledge of Allegiance to be said prior to the official start of the meeting. The agenda, which had been distributed to the board and made available to the public several days earlier, did not include the pledge. Board President Terri Thal denied the request at the time but has since reconsidered her decision.
Thal released a statement on Friday explaining her decision to put the matter before the entire board.
“The practice of saying the Pledge of Allegiance at New City Library board meetings was introduced in February 2009 by the then-board president. It had not been done before then. When I set the agenda for last night's meeting, I returned to the earlier practice of not reciting the Pledge. In retrospect, I think that whether or not to say it should be a decision of the entire board, not just the president, so I plan to present a motion to formally make it part of the agenda at the next board meeting.”
At the meeting Thal said reciting the pledge is not included in the board’s bylaws. According to New City Library Director Chuck McMorran, the bylaws state that the board president sets the agenda for the meetings.
McMorran said although the pledge has been said at the meetings for the past three years, it was not part of the agenda when he started with the library three and a half years ago. McMorran said the pledge was added to the agenda when Tom Ninan became board president in 2009 and Aney Paul continued it.
Thal’s decision drew strong reaction from audience members. Matthew Brennan said, “I can’t believe a veteran asked you if you could say the Pledge of Allegiance and you said no.”
A former library board member agreed that in the past, the pledge was not said but thought it should be. Marge Hook said she was going to tell veterans about the meeting and urge them to attend the next one. The board of trustees’ next meeting is Thursday, March 15.