Interview Jupiter Flagman George Andres
Lou Dobbs Tonight!
Transcript September 12, 2003

 DOBBS: Is there a house so fancy or a lawn so manicured that a U.S. flag flying over it detracts from the value of the neighborhood? Such a thing couldn't happen in this country, could it? 

Well, it's happening in Jupiter, Florida. Marine veteran George Andres is in danger of losing his home tonight because he flies an American flag in his front yard. His homeowner's association prohibited flagpoles. The courts have agreed and say the association can foreclose on his home to collect legal fees. 

George Andres joins us now from Jupiter, Florida. George, good to have you with us. 


DOBBS: This is a remarkable story. You've been fighting this for how long now? 

ANDRES: Since 1999. 

DOBBS: And what is the position of the homeowner's association? Why is it that a flag is so detrimental to their community? 

ANDRES: Well, first they said that it was going to cost more to cut the grass around the pole, which is kind of funny. And then they told me that the flagpole was going to take away from the value of the property. 

And I said, well, then we should be able to take away all the trees around here, because they're the same as the pole. And my pole is a portable poll. And the state government says I can do it. 

DOBBS: The state government says you can do it. The courts say you can't. In fact, you're in danger of being foreclosed upon. Governor Jeb Bush has come to your assistance. The Florida attorney general has done so. Why are you in this situation tonight? 

ANDRES: Because judges don't want to go by what the state statutes say. And the judge who found against me on the foreclosure is adding a new bracket to the state law, the Constitution. And I don't know how he's doing it. But the state attorney general, Charlie Crist, is going to go into court next week and try and find out. 

DOBBS: Well, you have served in the U.S. military, a former Marine. You have neighbors. You love your country. You obviously love your neighborhood and your community. What do the men and women there with whom you talk and live say to you? 

ANDRES: Well, my neighbors all love my flagpole. In fact, 15 of them filed suit against the homeowner's association for using their money against a fruitful suit. 

DOBBS: And, again, where's the mayor of the city of Jupiter, Florida? Where is the city council? Where in the world is your local government? 

ANDRES: Well, the local government doesn't want to get involved, because this is a homeowner's association. 

And the homeowner's association has got its own rules. And the city of Jupiter has its rules. And my flagpole, according to their rules, is perfectly legal. It's a -- their law says 21-foot flagpole, and I only have a 20-foot flagpole. 

DOBBS: And what has...

ANDRES: So the town just.... DOBBS: Go ahead, George. Go ahead, George.

ANDRES: The -- and the town says that they think it's absolutely ridiculous that this whole thing is going on. But it's above and beyond their jurisdiction.

DOBBS: Your mortgage, I presume, is paid up? The foreclosure -- the homeowner's association has the power to literally foreclose on your home?

ANDRES: Well, they're going to attempt to. It has a mortgage on it. The mortgage company would have to be paid off and I really don't know what's going to happen. I'm just hoping that we're going to get help from the state government and I hope that we're going to be able to persuade these judges that the state law clearly says what it says, and that the judge doesn't write into the law what's not written in the law.

DOBBS: Well, you have the support of Governor Bush. You have the support of the state attorney general. It's hard to imagine that a -- a man or a woman in this country cannot put an American flag on his or her lawn if they want to. That a homeowner's association would have power that supersedes that of the state legislature, the state attorney general, the local government, is mind boggling. How far are you going to take this?

ANDRES: We're going to take this as far as we have to. Have my attorney Barry Silver (ph), who's doing this pro bono, and he's with me all the way. He says he'll take it to the United States Supreme Court if we have to. But the United States Supreme Court has ruled on a case very similar to this in 1995, and said anything that you do on your private property with flags and signs are an expression of your feelings, which is covered under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which I feel is my right to put it up underneath the Constitution, even though the state of Florida has rules that say you can put it up, the top line is the Constitution.

DOBBS: And George, we -- we want to wish you all the luck in the world in this process. We hope that reason prevails in Florida. I can't imagine why you are still even having to -- to bear this battle as a burden there. We appreciate you taking the time. As I say, we wish you all of the best of luck.

ANDRES: No problem. I just hope that the federal government turns around and passes the addendum to the flag law that we're trying to get put in. And it will help everybody in the United States who wants to fly their flags.

DOBBS: George Andres, Jupiter, Florida, thanks for being with us.

We'd like to hear your opinion on the subject. "Do you think every American has the right to fly the flag in his or her frontyard? Yes or no?" 
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