Caroling at City Hall? | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Caroling at City Hall?

City attorney cautions against non-secular music

Posted: December 6, 2011 - 3:44pm

Instead of Carnegie Hall, how about singing a few carols at city hall?

Brainerd City Council President Mary Koep said at Monday night’s meeting that she’d like to see carolers performing in city hall during this holiday season, suggesting they come and sing for city staff an hour a day.

Koep said Crow Wing County used to have similar groups come in and perform at county buildings.

But city attorney Tom Fitzpatrick said in the interest of the separation of church and state, he would caution the city against bringing in people singing religious songs in city hall. Fitzpatrick said it would likely be acceptable if the music was more secular in nature. He said the city should be cautious.

“I only thought how nice it would be,” said Koep. “We don’t want to do anything that will get us into legal trouble. It’s a shame we can’t enjoy the caroling of the season and the camaraderie and the spirit of the occasion.”

Sam Jordan, a Brainerd High School student, suggested Koep speak to the BHS choir director, Brian Stubbs, about having the Windfall jazz group come and sing. Koep said she would contact him.

In other council action, the council approved the purchase of 50 Tower Award walnut plaques at a cost of $76.83 each as recommended by Mayor James Wallin. The plaques will be purchased using $1,500 out of his mayor fund for 2011 and 2012 and about $1,500 from the city. Wallin awards about six or seven of the awards a year.

The city accepted Bob Miller’s resignation from the Police and Fire Civil Service Commission with regret.

JODIE TWEED may be reached at jodie.tweed@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5858.

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City attorney Tom Fitzpatrick said in the interest of the separation of church and state, he would caution the city against bringing in people singing religious songs in city hall.