Thu, May 23

Cross controversy grows in Camp Verde
Scannell responds, churches organize

Mike Scannell

Mike Scannell

CAMP VERDE - The controversy over a cross displayed on Town property is shaping up for show down on Main Street.

Following a citizen complaint and a request by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the cross, owned by the Bread of Life Mission and on display in the Camp Verde Community Center gymnasium for more four years, was removed

In an interview with The Camp Verde Bugle last week, council member Norma Garrison charged that Town Manger Mike Scannell, who asked Bread of Life Director Duane Burris to remove the cross from Town property, had no right to do so.

Garrison contends its removal should be a decision of the Town Council, not the town manger.

On Monday, Scannell responded to Garrison's remarks in a memo addressed to Garrison and sent to her council members, Town Attorney Bill Sims, town staff and the press.

In it, Scannell firmly denies he "overstepped my authority," stating first that he took an oath to uphold the Constitution.

"The action I took...was based on the sole fact that its presence was, in a word, unconstitutional," Scannell states.

He goes on to state that although his decision may have been unpopular with a portion of the community it was "by its very nature, an act to defend the Constitution of the United State and more specifically the First Amendment thereto ... My action was exactly what the Constitution contemplated."

"I stand by my action and accept full responsibility for having taken the action ... I stand ready to have my actions reviewed by your Town Council, your Town Attorney, or by a court of law and to accept any punishment that you and your colleagues collectively may deem appropriate, should my actions be deemed to be illegal."

Scannell goes on to invite Garrison to put the item on the July 15 agenda for review by the council.

In addition to Garrison's comments in the newspaper, a group consisting of members from Parkside Community Church, Calvary Chapel and First Assembly of God Church and others have begun an e-mail and phone call campaign to Scannell's office.

According to group organizer Carlie Androus, the group has not decided what its next move will be.