Mike Antonovich's Ironic Cross

Supervisor Mike Antonovich has rolled up his gray-flannelled trousers to wade deep into the culture wars. Specifically, according to the L.A. Daily News, he wants the crucifix put back in the County Seal, now that the steel cross has been restored to the roof of the San Gabriel Mission, following its absence during years of earthquake restoration. In other words, he wants to take the county into a head-on legal collision with the American Civil Liberties Union -- this, at a time of record budget shortfalls and time-demanding crises.

For those who care to remember, the County Seal underwent its own retrofit in 2004. For one thing, Pomona became Ramona, as the Roman goddess dominating the seal took on a Native American  look -- sort of the reverse of when Columbia Pictures slimmed down and blonded the company icon that appears onscreen before each of its films. More politically, though, the ACLU threatened to sue the county if it continued to display a cross on the tiny representation of the San Gabriel Mission that replaced the oil derricks of the original, 1957 seal. With Zev Yaroslavsky, Gloria Molina and Yvonne Burke in the majority, the supes voted 5-3 to keep the seal's Mission cross-less, although, admittedly, not having the cross does make the building look like the back of an old movie theater.

Now that the real cross is back atop the Mission, Antonovich wants to

see it on the seal too -- imagining, perhaps, that new supe Mark

Ridley-Thomas will happily insert his arm up to

the elbow into this hornet's nest by voting with him and Don Knabe for the cross. Antonovich

bases his demand on a "historical accuracy" argument, the way

Christians try to slip the Bible onto public school reading lists as

"literature." Why Antonovich is reviving this issue, which became one

of those They're Taking Santa Claus Out of the Constitution issues that

deflect people's attention from truly urgent matters, is anyone's

guess. If consistent legal precedent is any indicator, Antonovich's proposal has

about as much chance of success as getting "Jesus Saves" printed on the seal.

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