Overcome with emotion

The council majority vote to place military banners in public space is inappropriate

Let’s call the Chico Military Heroes project what it is: a vanity project. That’s what the Chico City Council supported when the conservative majority voted in favor of the group’s efforts to place large banners with photos of local military personnel on utility poles along East Avenue.

Since they are fine with playing favorites with a special interest group, we have a suggestion for Mayor Mark Sorensen, Vice Mayor Sean Morgan, and Councilmembers Andrew Coolidge and Reanette Fillmer. They should hang the banners in their front yards, rather than along a major commercial and residential corridor.

They wouldn’t, of course, because the banners are, to put it nicely, loud. Yet, they expect the entire city of Chico to have to look at them every day.

Any rational person can see that the banners don’t belong on public property. There is the ideological argument that they glorify war and will serve to indoctrinate local youth. There’s also the notion that the money spent on the project—irrespective of the fact that it is being privately funded—would be better spent on the local veterans who are struggling to readjust to civilian life (as one opponent pointed out, there are some 50 homeless veterans in the Chico area).

All of those things are true. But, again, this is a vanity project, and the loved ones of current local servicemen and women are seeking recognition. That doesn’t exactly sound honorable or selfless or patriotic.

But there are better arguments to shoot down the Chico Military Heroes’ proposal. What will the conservatives do when other groups come forward with proposals that don’t align with their ideological stance? This is a matter of fairness.

Indeed, the only reason to allow such an effort is for sentimental purposes.

Case in point: Morgan, who looked like he was getting choked up, didn’t even attempt to conceal that his support comes from an emotional standpoint. The first-term councilman rattled off a list of family members who had served in the armed forces, and said that they would be honored by extension.

Our servicemen and women deserve of our support, but in a substantive way. Fact is, the banners are purely symbolic, nothing more. They belong on private property, not in public space.