The City Council this week chastised student officials at Saddleback College for dropping the Pledge of Allegiance from their meeting, but declined to pass a resolution on the subject.
Although they angrily denounced Saddleback Associated Student Government President Jeff Haskell, who appeared before them, they voted 3 to 2 against telling another governmental body what to do.
"This has nothing to do with the flag," said Councilman Joel T. Lautenschleger said. "I wouldn't want another government agency coming in and telling us how to run our meetings."
The San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano city councils have asked Saddleback students to reinstate the pledge. In a letter sent earlier this month, San Juan Capistrano Mayor Wyatt T. Hart asked the Laguna Hills council to do the same.
His request was backed by a group of local war veterans and a pair of Saddleback College students. "These aren't students who have anything on their minds other than their own interests," said Brent Meyer, who told the council he intended to run for president of the student government.
Officials of the student government last year discontinued the pledge, saying it was insensitive to minorities, atheists and foreign students.
Haskell told the council his administration continued the no-pledge policy because "people started to argue beliefs" rather than taking care of student business.
Councilwoman Melody Carruth told Haskell, "What is so disturbing is that you seem intent on destroying the college" with controversy that could have a chilling affect on donations to the school.
Speaking in favor of the resolution, Councilman R. Craig Scott said the city has "a legitimate interest in what other bodies do, particularly when they are supported by our tax dollars."
Before the council vote, Meyer told Councilwoman Cindy Greengold that she and the council "should be leading this community in this fight and not passing the buck."