Media focusing on flagpole fight

Article Courtesy of Sun Sentinel
By Peter Franceschina 
Posted September 14, 2003 

The flap surrounding George Andres, his flagpole and his crusade to fly Old Glory on that flagpole played across the country on Friday.

Rush Limbaugh weighed in on the controversy, and Andres also did a segment on Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN.
Andres said his phone began ringing shortly after 6 a.m. Friday.

"I started at 6:15 this morning with Fox television in New York," said Andres, adding he did interviews with about 35 talk-radio hosts around the country.

Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Edward Fine ruled Wednesday that the Indian Creek Phase 3B Homeowners Association could foreclose on Andres' Jupiter home on Oct. 12 to collect legal fees.

The association allows homeowners to fly flags from brackets attached to their homes, but its rules prohibit Andres' flagpole. The association won a court case against Andres prohibiting the flagpole, and then filed a lien against his home for about $21,000.

The story received national attention including a notice on the Drudge Report, an Internet news site managed by Matt Drudge, which linked to a story about the judge's ruling on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Web site.

Andres, a Marine Corps veteran, said callers to the talk-radio shows supported him.

"The people are really out to protect us. The people are really behind the flag, what they can do to support us," he said. "It was fantastic."

Boca Raton attorney Barry Silver, who represents Andres, said the outpouring of support was fueled by the timing of the judge's ruling, coming as it did the day before 9-11 commemorations around the country.

"Everybody is obviously shocked and appalled that an association would throw a veteran out on the street for flying a flag," he said.

Silver and Andres say the dispute is about Andres' right to fly the flag. Members of the association and their attorney say the controversy is over the flagpole itself, and that is what the court cases have focused on. 

The story has received national attention before, Andres said.

He said he did his first talk-radio show on the case back in June 2001.

Last year, the Legislature passed a bill designed to alleviate Andres' legal troubles, and Gov. Jeb Bush signed it into law. 

It allows people to fly a removable American flag "in a respectful manner" regardless of homeowners association rules.

On Flag Day last year, Bush delivered an American flag to Andres that had flown over the Capitol and helped him raise it on the controversial pole, amid applause from neighbors. 

The new law was made retroactive, so it would apply to Andres, but it was passed long after the lien was filed and the homeowners association won its case. Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist is now vowing to support Andres in an appeal of the foreclosure ruling.

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