April 13, 2006

Florida councilman won’t swear support for U.S

By Jane Sutton

MIAMI (Reuters) - A newly elected councilman in a tiny
Florida village has refused to take an oath of office pledging
support for the U.S. government because he adamantly opposes
the war in Iraq.

Councilman-elect Basil Dalack, 76, a Korean War veteran,
won an uncontested election to fill a vacancy on the
five-person council of the southeast Florida town of Tequesta.

But he is refusing to take the oath of office -- due to be
administered on Thursday -- because the oath requires him to
"support, protect and defend" the government. His decision
comes at a time when polls show ebbing support for the war.

Dalack said believes the U.S. war in Iraq is unjust and "an
abomination." He said he could not sleep at night if he took a
pledge implying blanket support for the U.S. government.

"Those dead kids in Iraq, American kids and Iraqi kids,
would haunt me," Dalack said.

He sued the village and asked U.S. District Judge Donald
Middlebrooks for an emergency order that the oath be reworded.
On Wednesday, the judge refused, saying Dalack's suit was
unlikely to succeed, but he gave Dalack and the village 25 days
to present written arguments in the case.

Village Manager Mike Cuozzo said the oath is contained in
the city charter, which can only be changed through a voter

It is copied nearly verbatim from one widely used for
state, county and local office holders, Mayor Jim Humpage said.

The mayor said the village of 5,800 is made up mostly of
middle-aged conservatives, many of whom have told him they
think Dalack picked the wrong forum for his anti-war campaign.

"He has a job to do with the village and we don't need the
village to be a platform for national issues," Humpage quoted
constituents as saying.