I found the phrase, ‘hold the rule near and dear” in the sentence of the article of New York Times (August 4) reporting the scheme of Nik Wallenda, the world record holder of farthest distance travel by bicycle on a high wire for walking across the gorge of Niagara Falls balancing on a steel cable. As the headline of the article says ‘Before a Walk across Niagara Falls, a Balancing Act,” the Niagara Parks Commission regulates such scheme as a tawdry stunt.
The text follows:
"But the Niagara Parks Commission, the Canadian agency that oversees the parkland adjacent to the falls, traces its creation in 1885 to the desire of local officials to reduce the “increasingly carnival atmosphere” at the falls. Even though the mayor of Niagara Falls, Ontario, is a Wallenda supporter, the Parks Commission prohibits “stunting” at the falls, and “holds that rule near and dear.”
I found the definition of ‘hold dear’ as a verb meaning ‘be fond of, be attracted to, cherish’ in Freeonline Dictionary, but there was no entry of ‘hold something near and dear’ in any dictionaries I’ve checked. Is “Hold rule near and dear” an established English phrase or just neologism?
An additional question. Isn’t the Niagara Parks Commission at the beginning of the above sentence lacking a predicate to the effect of ‘bans?’ Did the author omit the verb to avoid redundancy with the ‘prohibits’ that come in the following clause?