Several terms were used during the council member's discussion: non-denominational invocation, sectarian prayer, and ecumenical prayer. Apart from the suggested moment of silence, the offerings from those pushing for some kind of invocation cited God. To a non-believer like me, the proposition is not insulting, but it does have the potential for creating a wedge between interested parties. Ms. Vielma's reasoning for promoting an invocation was to help unify the council before their meetings started. A noble precept; however, I don't think you necessarily need a prayer to help bring members together to do the business of the city.
It should be understood that, as soon as you walk into council chambers, everyone is held to the standard of working for the best interest of the City of Laredo as a whole.
An interesting aspect of the discussion was how each council member prefaced their remarks with a declaration of their own faith. Alex Perez didn't utter a word; he just sat there like the stump he is, glazed look and all.
Councilman Roberto Balli spoke out against any kind of invocation at council meetings. But apart from wanting to keep church and state separate, he lamented the fact that the idea of prayer was what council, Nelly Vielma especially, took away from their recent trips to Austin and Washington, D.C.
He went further and stated that some council members didn't take part in all meetings when they went to Washington. A source tipped him off to that. Apparently, Balli didn't go to our nation's capital because he thought the traveling group was too large. Judging from the photos that were provided to me, I'll take him at his word that council members made themselves scarce. Local politicians are obsessed with photo ops. The fact that they're missing from the shots the city released to the media is very telling. (The photos above are from Day 1 in D.C. )
This set of photos is from Day 2. They include both the mayor of Laredo and the mayor of Nuevo Laredo, along with our two TX senators. And that's it.
On Day 3, our leaders came together and listened to several Washington peeps speak.
We're wiser now, thanks to somebody speaking up. Their jig is up. Oh, and yeah, no prayer at meetings.