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LaVerkin Declares Independence
July 6, 2001

Most city councils focus on potholes rather than peacekeeping, but this Fourth of July, civic leaders in LaVerkin, Utah (pop. 3,400) fired another shot heard round the world. By a vote of 3 to 2, the City Council of this tiny Western town made history by declaring independence - from the United Nations. Neighboring Virgin, Utah (pop. 400) will vote on a similar measure July 19.

Under the new ordinance, city property will not bear UN symbols, no resident will participate in the "involuntary servitude" of UN operations, and municipal funds will not be spent to support UN activities. Those who disagree must register with the city and post yard signs that read, "United Nations work conducted here."

Radical, yes, but not surprising given the source. Opponents worked overtime to caricature the resolution's backers as conspiracy-peddling, gun-toting zealots still disappointed that Y2K fizzled. Not so. They're average citizens of a state where 83% of land belongs to the federal government, and residents of a town near Zion National Park, a site already requisitioned by the UN's World Heritage Committee. LaVerkin understands encroachment. "We live in the West and we see parks now where part of the fees that they earn go to the UN because it is a biosphere," Councilman Al Snow said. "I can see our country's sovereignty slowly slipping away."

The pundit chorus clucks that the move is symbolic, a right-wing ploy with a short shelf- life. More likely, LaVerkin is cresting the first wave of a global sea change. Mayor Dan Howard hopes "LaVerkin is the crucible to get the rest of the cities and the national government to listen." They're already listening, Mr. Mayor. From Ireland and Denmark where voters just sent the EU back to Brussels to other small towns in Washington and New Mexico considering "UN free-zones" of their own, sovereignty is back in the saddle.

Had our forefathers returned this week to fete our nation's founding, they would have been gratified by the Capitol fireworks and Philadelphia performances. But the brave souls who transformed themselves from King George's subjects to freedom's champions might have enjoyed LaVerkin more. For in that Utah corner, the patriots who staked their sacred honor on the first declaration would have recognized a familiar insouciance and felt right at home in the country they left us.

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