I was on my way to work this morning and saw the above story in paper in the newspaper rack at the drive-thru window. Needless to say, I was intrigued by the title and bought a paper. I read the story and I’m sure my mouth fell open several times as Lancaster, CA mayor Rex Parris was revealed to be a complete nut job. Later, in the morning I shared the story with my cube-mate who lives in Lancaster. She was horrified as she read the story and said “I voted for the man, but didn’t realize he was such a nutcase.” Another coworker, who is pretty religious, said her pastor attended the meeting and was shocked by the mayor’s statements.
I’ll post the complete story from the Antelope Valley Press, along with my comments from each section. I don’t usually post a complete story, but in this case I’m commenting on all sections of the story. Here is the story on their website.
Parris Touts City as a “Christian” Community
Mayor’s address focuses on crime, culture, green energy
By Gerry Price
Valley Press City Editor/Assignments
LANCASTER – Mayor R. Parris sees his city as strongly Christian, and he’s proud of that.
“We’re growing a Christian community, and don’t let anybody shy away from that,” he told an audience of 160 people, mainly pastors and their spouses, during his State of the City address Tuesday at the John P. Eliopulos Hellenic Center.
He said he wants the community’s electorate to validate a Christian stance in the April municipal election, in which a ballot measure endorses prayers at city meetings, specifically with permission to invoke a specific deity, including Jesus.
How can this possible be anything but divisive? The mayor wants a “Christian city”. What does this even mean? Does he want a higher percentage of Christians living in the city? Or does he want a town run by Christians for Christians? And if this is supposed to be a city run meeting, why is the audience mainly Christian pastors and their wives? What about switching the word “Christian” to “White”, then the bigotry is instantly obvious.
While Parris, who is running a second term as mayor in April, sail he didn’t care which candidates the voters favored. “I do want them voting for that prayer amendment,” referring to a measure asking voters whether or not the City Council should seek religious guidance before its meetings.
The council put the measure on the ballot after the American Civil Liberties Union sent the city a letter of warning that said allowing “sectarian” prayers, such as those that mention Jesus Christ, at governmental meetings is divisive and unconstitutional.
“I need them standing up and saying we’re a Christian community, and we’re proud of that”, he said, speaking of his multimedia Powerpoint presentation flashed a big-screen picture with a large Christian cross and and the phrase “Growing a Christian Community.”
Currently the ACLU is suing the city of Lancaster for the use of sectarian prayers before city council meetings. But even worse in addition to the sectarian prayers, Mayor Parris has also limited the denomination as well. Only a couple of pastors are allowed give the prayer.
[Correction – Currently the ACLU has not sued the city of Lancaster yet. They are waiting to see if the ballot measure allowing sectarian prayers passes.]
If the measure passes, hundreds of residents should petition petition the city to allow them to pray in the name of various deities. That would be hilarious. How can they possibly turn someone down without making it obvious the city prefers only Christian prayers? Personally I prefer the goddess Bastet, since I love cats.
Asked afterward whether his talk of being a “Christian community” tends to leave out or anger residents who are not Christians, the mayor said he doesn’t mean to exclude anyone.
Noting that he had a meeting scheduled that evening with members of a local gay and lesbian organization, Parris said “My vision of it is not a vision of exclusion. It’s a vision of attraction. I understand for so long it had an exclusionary feet to it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. We should remove the exclusionary aspect to it.”
The mayor says he wants a Christian community and says he can’t see how that is divisive. What a crock of shit. How can stating a Christian community is better than a community that is not exclusively Christian not be insulting and divisive? It’s like when Christians advertise they would like to talk to the “lost”. How can this be anything but insulting?
Parris maintained in post speech remarks that a Christian city had a better sense of community that an “atheistic city”, and said that the progress Lancaster has made over the past several years came about because of the sensor of cooperation between the various elements in the city.
What the hell is an “atheistic” city? Some place in North Korea or China? Or the former Soviet Union? Certainly no place here in the United States that I know of. Or perhaps he is talking about some city that is not expressively Christian? It’s like when some Christians refer to anything non-Christian as “atheistic”. Or perhaps he is confusing a neutral stance of not mixing government and religion as “atheistic”?
As a prime example, he referred to the recently announced 31% drop in the Lancaster crime rate in the last two years, commenting, “That 31% is the difference between a city that is dangerous to live in vs. a city that is safe to live in.”
Despite the best efforts of the Sheriff’s Department, that drop wouldn’t have occurred without the cooperation of all the city’s departments and its citizenry, Parris said.
“It was all of us coming together,” he said.
What’s with all of the statistics? References please, Mayor. I’ve spent time in places where the crime rate was low, a lone woman could walk around freely at midnight and never be disturbed. But these are places I would never live in. For in those places, there is little to no freedom to speak and write as one pleases.
Parris praised the jump from 118 active Neighborhood Watch groups in 2008 to 192 in 2009, and an even greater hike in involvement in Business Watch.
Other city-led actions took a large step to reduce what he called “hyper vigilance” of youth, which led them to become vulnerable to gang involvement.
Specifically, by allowing graffiti, truancy, roving pit bulls, and gangs to proliferate, we were putting our children in harm’s way, Parris said.
To that end, the city:
- Cleaned up graffiti in 18,114 locations in 2009.
- Removed 1,034 pit bulls from city streets during that same time frame.
Paris also touted the planned Voyager Sky Sentinel project, which will allow a Sheriff’s Department official to keep an eye on crime from above the city from some 8,000 feet above the ground.
He noted that, during one demonstration of the aircraft, the brainchild of aviation pioneer Dick Rutan, he was able to see every detail of an accident or crime in real time.
He discounted any idea of the plane infringing on the privacy of law abiding individuals, noting, “This device will not do anything a current (Sheriff’s Department) helicopter can’t do.
At the same time, by using the aircraft “we’ll be able to utilize services like we’ve never done before.”
I honestly believe we’re on the way to becoming the safest city in America,” Parris said, despite the many reasons that shouldn’t happen, including the city’s proximity to a state prison and the high number of parolees in the community.
I’m almost beyond words at this. All I can think of is the quote by Benjamin Franklin, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.” The mayor has strayed far, far from the American vision of our founders.
The mayor also praised the introduction of Community Impact Homes in the community.
The first two, one near Piute Middle School and the other in the Trend tract, are run by personnel from Grace Chapel and Central Christian Church.
Parris said, “We’re not putting churches (running neighborhood houses) in every impoverished neighborhood. I’d like to put them up in every neighborhood.
The mayor also said he would like to have health workers operate out of the community houses.
I would like to see how these houses are financed. Are the churches renting them? Can only Christian groups rent them? Here is a video of the dedication of the Trend Community House.
The video starts off with the mayor, Rex Parris telling of his vision of overworked parents being helped (or preyed upon) by a house in every neighborhood run by an evangelical Christian church. If the Evangelical Churches are renting these houses, can’t other groups rent as well. The Satanist Community House would be one happening place, with large pentagrams in the windows, and heavy metal blasting the neighborhood. Or a Rastafarian house, with mighty clouds of pot smoke drifting over the neighborhood. HehHehHeh. Perhaps the AV Freethinkers can get a house as well.
Then the mayor hands the podium over to a Pastor Dave Prather from the Central Christian Church, with the remark “Now he is responsible for an entire neighborhood.” WTF? If I lived in that neighborhood, I would be insulted at the patronizing tone. No one is responsible for me but myself.
Pay attention at 4:15 in the video where Concepcion Harris says “We’re here to transform the neighborhood for Christ. That’s what we’re here to do.” And the mayor wants one of these in every neighborhood? Holy Church-State entanglement, Batman. Talk about preying upon those too poor to afford decent daycare.
Also notice the cross symbol. Apparently, this is the new city symbol for Lancaster CA. Lancaster’s previous symbol was a California Poppy, representing the California Poppy Reserve west of the town. I’ve noticed the new symbol the last year or two. I liked the poppy better. It was much nicer and more representative of the city. Interesting note, the video is no longer hosted at the city’s website. I found it on Youtube and downloaded a copy for myself.
He also said that on Sundays, church buses should be stopping at homes in all the neighborhoods to take children to church.
You mean these buses? The mayor is probably a member of Lancaster Baptist Church. I’ve done some searching, but he never comes out and says which church he is a member of. But the Lancaster Baptist Church always seems to be involved in city business. (I’ve heard this from some friends.) I also have a vision of surveillance drones busily flying over the city on Sunday morning, searching for those children not going to Sunday school.
Another area the mayor praised was the city’s support for the arts, especially in the development of Lancaster Boulevard as a mecca for artists and patrons of the arts, and as a place for fine dining.
Noting the opening of the Brooklyn Deli and Giannini Bistro and the upcoming opening of BeX, the mayor bragged, “Pretty soon, when you go out to eat, you’ll be going to Lancaster Boulevard. They’ll have better restaurants than the (Antelope Valley) Mall, and more fun, too.”
Upon revealing a slide titles “Alternative Energy Capital of the World,” Parris said a Monday meeting between a foreign company and a “major home builder” will lead to the construction of 10 of the most energy efficient homes in the world within the next year.
Touting the “best sun in the world” and the Valley’s nearly constant winds as wonderful sources of green energy, Parris said a planned trip to China will allow him to meet with representatives of a major company that builds batteries designed to store green energy.
The mayor also said the city hopes to be announcing that 6,000 to 10,000 new jobs will be coming in the near future.
Other statistics cited by Parris were a 36% drop in fatal collisions from 2008 to 2009, the elimination of 5,421 illegal dump sites during 2009, and the repair of 24,129 pot holes in that time frame.
Managing Editor Charles F. Bostwick contributed to this report.
The above sounds like the city has neglected large problems for a long time, then suddenly realized how bad things were. The mayor sure seems to like bragging about himself a lot. How exactly did the city reduce the number of fatal collisions?
Story continues here.