Bill may not help Jupiter flag-flier
By Marc Caputo, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 13, 2002

TALLAHASSEE -- Reinforcements have arrived for George Andres, the Korean War veteran who's fighting his Jupiter homeowners association over his right to fly Old Glory.

On a 108-4 vote, the Florida House sent the governor a bill Tuesday that prohibits neighborhood groups from telling citizens they can't display the American flag in their front yards. 

The bill is retroactive, designed to cancel the ongoing court case brought against Andres by the Indian Creek Phase III-B Homeowners Association, Inc. 

But the measure could be tactically flawed.

It says a homeowner can only display the flag in a "respectful" manner, regardless of restrictions. Andres, however, was sued not because he was flying the flag, but because his 12-foot flagpole violated the association's zoning code. 

"This bill does not help Mr. Andres. He has a flagpole problem, not an American flag problem," said Rep. Fred Brummer, R-Apopka, one of the few dissenters.

The only lawmaker who attempted to rectify the apparent flaw was Rep. James Harper, D-West Palm Beach. At the last minute, he tried to amend the bill to include language about flagpoles. It failed because lawmakers disagreed with its wording.

Rep. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, sponsored the bill and said she didn't mention flagpoles because she didn't want to get into the "nitty gritty" of running a homeowners association. Sobel said the bill's language was copied from an existing law that allows condominium owners to display the flag.

A Palm Beach County circuit judge ordered Andres to take the flag down in October 2000. He defied the order and continued to do so, even after an appeals court upheld the judge's decision. In that time, he said, he's racked up $30,000 in fines and legal fees.

Andres, 64, said any help is welcome from the legislature, even if it means more court battles.

"It's a small price to pay for supporting your country," Andres said. "But I'd really like to get my money back."

Gov. Jeb Bush is expected to sign the bill into law, having called for it as patriotic fervor swept the country after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Senate has already approved the measure.

But dissenters questioned whether the bill was an exercise in patriotism or a heavy-handed government order that cancels a legal homeowner restriction, which buyers agreed to before they moved in.

"We talk about principles of less government. Nothing could be further from this concept" said Curtis Richardson, D-Tallahassee. 

"That's one of the things that we fight for constantly -- to let us determine what will happen in our neighborhoods."

Please read our other articles by clicking on headlines!
Senate votes to protect flag-flying
State lawmakers rally behind the flag
What is wrong in our Country? Story of the "Jupiter Flagman"
Finally Change of Politics? Politician's statements
Did The CAI Finally Cave In ? The Community Association Institute statements!
Fly It Proud - Editorial
Florida Bill Proposal, Comments and Dispatch
Flagpole lawsuit - THIS TIME IN VIRGINIA?
Hanging On Tight to Patriotism
Right-to-fly flag bill proceeds