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Otero pushes for for ‘In God We Trust’ referendum PDF Print E-mail
Aug 12, 2009 at 10:21 AM

By Juliana A. Torres
Staff Writer

Two weeks ago, four out of five Kissimmee commissioners voted to drop an attempt to add “In God We Trust” to the city logo.

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Click to see real size
But two weeks later, Commissioner Art Otero, who “proudly cast the lone dissenting vote,” said the fight isn’t over and called for a possible voter referendum to bring the issue to the forefront again.

“It’s a lot of people supporting bringing this to referendum,” Otero said. “This is important to them in reference to our patriotism.”

In an e-mailed statement, Otero stated that he’s had “hundreds” of calls and e-mails from people supporting the logo. He added that he felt “ambushed” by Mayor Jim Swan, who proposed stopping all redesign efforts at the beginning of the July 28 meeting, as well as by the residents who spoke against him later in the meeting.

He said that some people who wrote or e-mailed him were offended by the reference to God, the importance of “In God We Trust” – which also is Florida’s state motto. However, he said that the motto was meant to be patriotic, not religious.

“Some of the people, a small minority, a real minimal, don’t want to see that added into the logo in the city, because of their own belief,” Otero said. “But the majority of people calling me are saying that they want to see that in the logo.”

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Commissioner Cheryl Grieb said voting against any logo change was the right thing to do, considering Otero’s comments. In recent media reports about the city’s logo and the possibility of adding the motto, Otero was quoted as saying he was against “homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion and the legalization of marijuana.”

“I believe the intent was patriotic. I think it’s perceived as religious and that’s where the problem is,” she said. “It’s just a shame that it got blown up as big as it has.”

Though he has spoken against those things in the past, Otero said in the meeting two weeks ago that he his statements were taken out of context.

“My thing was ‘In God We Trust,’ nothing more, nothing less. That was the goal. Unfortunately, it went somewhere else,” he said.

Grieb, who said she and her partner are celebrating their 17th anniversary this month, said she wasn’t personally offended by Otero’s remarks.

“As far as his homosexual comments, I knew that he felt that way. I did not take that personally,” she said. “I still think that people are people and if you know someone for who they are and who they stand for, all those things don’t matter.”

The rest of the commissioners couldn’t vote for the logo change after Otero’s comments without feeling like they were aligning themselves to “Otero’s values or lack thereof,” Grieb said. Before the infamous comments, she still had been undecided as to whether she would have supported the final approval of the logo change.

She said Otero did apologize to her personally later.

“I told him, ‘You shouldn’t apologize for something you believe in,’” she said, adding that those beliefs wouldn’t affect her ability to work with Otero. “We can still be civil, still get the job done that we were both hired to do. We just happen not to be the same page on certain items.”

Grieb said she did “have a personal relationship with God” but felt that her personal beliefs shouldn’t become an issue as a commissioner. She didn’t understand why Otero’s proposal to add the motto “In God We Trust” garnered more support than her proposal in 2007 to have a graphics professional upgrade the logo with a more professional look. That proposal was dismissed because of cost.


Contact Juliana A. Torres at or 321-402-0434.


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