The ACLU, representing an atheist, is threatening five San Diego-area personalities with legal action over the proposed wording of a ballot initiative that will determine the fate of a historic cross on city land.

The five behind the Mt. Soledad initiative are KFMB radio talk-show host Rick Roberts; KOGO radio talk-show host Roger Hedgecock; San Diego Padres radio announcer Jerry Coleman, Rep. Randy Cunningham, R-Calif.; and Director Phil Thalmeimer.

The attorney for atheist Philip Paulson, James McElroy, has told the men he will file the challenge next week.

McElroy claims that a number of their statements on the ballot, prepared for the July 26 city-wide vote, are “false and misleading.”

Some statements at issue include, “as in the case with Mount Soledad, wherever veterans are honored with the symbols of the fallen, an intolerant few will launch frivolous lawsuits that waste our tax dollars … .”

Another statement under challenge is, “in 2004, the president of the United States signed legislation designating the Mount Soledad site as a ‘National War Memorial,’ necessitating the land transfer.”

McElroy also objects to the sentence, “Vote Yes to transfer the land to the federal government and to permanently preserve Mount Soledad — as it is where it is.”

Last month, the San Diego City Council allowed voters to decide the fate of the historic cross, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean in nearby La Jolla. The legal battles date back to 1989.

Roberts said today he and the others “will defend the wording in court.”

While there has been “a legal challenge against all five of us, I think we will prevail in court,” he said.

Roberts stressed that the issue is important for those who want to preserve the heritage of San Diego, which includes the La Jolla cross. Donations for that cause are being taken by both radio announcers and

Roberts also is a regular guest host for Michael Savage’s nationally syndicated radio show. Hedgecock substitutes for Rush Limbaugh occasionally. Coleman will be inducted this summer in the Baseball Hall of Fame as a radio announcer.

Related stories:

Voters to decide on historic cross

Congress gets into ACLU cross brouhaha

Vet sues to save mountaintop cross

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