The West Hollywood City Council stopped short this week of reinstating Christmas as an official holiday, deciding instead to poll employees on the issue.
The city's 70 workers will be asked today if Christmas should be a paid holiday or if they should retain the existing system of choosing their own paid days off.
In one of its most controversial actions last year, the City Council canceled Christmas as a city holiday and kept City Hall open for the day.
Employees who did not wish to work Dec. 25 did not have to. They were compensated with one of their 4.5 paid "floating" holidays. Most of the city's work force chose to take the day off.
Mayor Asks for Change
Mayor Stephen Schulte this week asked the council to rescind its action of a year ago, saying that the "majority of people I have talked to want Christmas reinstated as a city holiday."
Mayor Pro Tem Alan Viterbi opposed Schulte's recommendation, insisting that "the city should not impose one religion on other people."
The other two council members, Helen Albert and John Heilman, took no public position on the issue because, as Heilman put it, "the only people affected by this are the city employees."
How the poll of employees will be used is unclear. City Manager Paul D. Brotzman said that the issue of holidays is subject to bargaining between the employees and the city's negotiators.
"This issue has not come up for discussion yet," Brotzman said.
Abby M. Baker, president of the local unit of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employes, which represents most of the city workers, said the vote could be close.
"It is not a simple issue to decide," Baker said. "Some employees like the idea of making their own decisions on days to take off. Others share Mr. Viterbi's concern about separation of church and state. Since we have not considered the issue before, it will be interesting to see how it turns out."