The discussion about whether to place the national motto "In God We Trust" in Oakley's new city hall is the most recent example of that debate. The City Council should be credited with allowing ample public discourse on the issue. They got legal opinions and did considerable research on their own before making the decision this week to allow it. Whether the motto is appropriate for a city facility will always depend on whom you ask, but no one can accuse the council of failing to do due diligence or of wimping out on a hard decision.
But there is also a hidden benefit to the impassioned discussion that's taken place on the issue, and that's the impassioned discussion itself. Like many small cities, Oakley has seen its share of poorly attended City Council meetings. It could be partly because so many Oakleyites commute and are too tired to attend them, or perhaps the busy modern lifestyles don't leave much time for getting involved in government.
It might also be because of Oakley's relative youth. Residents might still be getting used to having a local government that must be responsive to them, and are simply unaccustomed to engaging in public activism. It's a phenomenon we have noticed on our Letters to the Editor pages in our various editions: far fewer people contribute opinions in Oakley than in Brentwood, Discovery Bay or Antioch.
But perhaps that's changing. The debate over inclusion of the national motto has brought opinions out in droves, from the packed Council Chambers this week to the letters to the editor to comments on our Web site. Whether pro or con, the outpouring of public comment must be considered a healthful thing for the community. Keep it up, Oakleyites.