March 11, 2008
By Ken Krayeske • 9:25 AM EST
In the days before the war, activists stuffed Hartford City Hall's second floor Common Council chambers. The protestors carried signs and filled the tiny room to the brim in hopes that their presence would embolden City Council to pass an anti-war resolution before the invasion of Iraq.
Unfortunately, then-councilor Elizabeth Horton-Sheff's resolution failed, 5-4. Mayor Eddie Perez didn't stand behind it, and some councilors, even though opposed to the war, said their duty wasn't foreign policy.
Fast forward to Monday, March 10, 2008, approaching the fifth anniversay of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and now Working Families Party councilmen Dr. Larry Deutsch and Luis Cotto put an anti-war resolution on the table, item #39.
This time, it was a normal Council meeting setting with a few dozen chairs empty in Chambers. A couple of anti-war activists like Green Party stalwart Dave Ionno sat quietly, without waving any signs.
But this time, the anti-war motion passed in a 6-0 vote with two abstentions.
The resolution calls for an end to the war and for a monthly recognition at Council meetings of its ongoing financial and humanitarian tolls. It will be sent to President George W. Bush, Connecticut's Congressional delegation and the Connecticut General Assembly.
And no, Deutsch said, it's not five years too late.
"We weren't here five years ago," Deutsch said.
Deutsch began the discussion before the vote explaining how Council reached a compromise on the language of the resolution.
"A phrase to end the war now, not just end the war was removed in the interests of compromise," Deutsch said. "We were interested in changing the primary terms to make it broadly acceptable to everyone."
Councilors were in broad agreement on the resolved clause stating "That at the second meeting of each month of the Council as a whole, after the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer, time is taken to suitably honor those serving and those who have lost their lives in the conflict and communicate information about the continuing fiscal and humanitarian costs to the City of Hartford."
Deutsch's Working Families Party co-sponsor on the resolution, Councilor Luis Cotto, an Army veteran, explained succinctly the importance of said clause.
"The costs associated with this war are so depressing," Cotto said. "We need to be depressed once a month."
Council Ken Kennedy, one of the abstentions, supported the resolve clause, but sang his familiar chorus that City Council should not be a forum for foreign policy.
"I have always had the belief that some things are beyond the scope of Council," Kennedy said. "I do not support the war, but I do not think it is appropriate for City Council to comment on this."
Foreign policy should be left to Congress, Kennedy said. Cotto disagreed.
"It is incumbent upon us to respond to the foreign policy decisions of those who we elect," Cotto said. "Imagine if every municipality voted positively for this, we would have a mandate to end the war."