State lawmakers rally behind the flag
Bills are flying in the Legislature in reaction to homeowners groups that curtail the display of Old Glory. 
By JULIE HAUSERMAN, Times Staff Writer
published January 12, 2002 

TALLAHASSEE -- Fly the flag. 

That's what mourning Americans were told after the Sept. 11 attacks. But in some Florida communities, that simple patriotic act proved controversial. 

Flying the flag, it turns out, can be against the rules. Tussles have broken out in some of Florida's planned developments and condominium complexes, where even the tiniest detail is scrutinized to make sure everyone's property conforms. 

Some residents were told they couldn't fly a flag on a free-standing pole -- it had to be attached to the house by brackets. Others were told the opposite. In New Port Richey, a man got a letter from his homeowners association saying he had to take a flag off his roof and put it on a pole. 

And in Jupiter, a long-running case has a veteran facing foreclosure on his house and about $28,000 in fines, all because he refused a homeowners association order to take down a flagpole in his front yard. Some of his neighbors have turned around and sued their association, saying they are embarrassed to live in a place where a man is persecuted for flying a flag. 

Now, several state lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, have filed bills to make it harder for homeowners associations to restrict how people fly their flags. 

"My position is, if you can burn a flag, you should certainly be able to display one," said Anna Cowin, a Republican senator from Leesburg who is sponsoring a bill that would make it illegal to restrict how flags are displayed. 

Cowin's bill sets stiff penalties: a $5,000 fine for a first offense, $10,000 for a second and jail for the third. Her law would make it "unlawful for any person to prohibit the display of the flag of the United States" unless it posed a health or safety threat. It passed a Senate committee this week. 

Sen. Steve Geller, a Democrat from the Broward County community of Hallandale, was the first lawmaker to file a bill to protect a person's right to fly the U.S. flag. He filed his bill on Sept. 17, after hearing complaints from constituents who live in condominiums. His measure would prevent homeowners associations from restricting how people can fly flags, but it doesn't include penalties. It is up for consideration by the full Senate after the Legislature convenes Jan. 22. 

"I was personally appalled that in the aftermath of 9-11, while the president and the governor were telling people to fly the flag, and even while the flag was still flying at half-staff, that people were being fined for flying a flag from a flagpole," Geller said. 

After the terrorist attacks, Gov. Jeb Bush asked Floridians to fly their flags, and immediately got an earful from people complaining about deed restrictions. He released a statement urging lawmakers to change the law. 

"No one should be able to sign away their rights to fly and display Old Glory," Bush wrote on Sept. 15. "While I firmly support in general the right of communities to set their own policies for those who choose to live in them, I nevertheless believe an exemption applies to the flying of our flag." 

One Florida activist group, Cyber Citizens for Justice, has taken up the cause of homeowners who are restricted in how they can display their flags. 

"Most lawsuits are not about the right to display the flag, but about the way they can display it," said Bob Janauskas, the group's spokesman. 

Don Taggart's flag troubles didn't end up in court, but he learned the hard way that homeowners associations can be pretty picky about how property owners fly the flag. 

Taggart is a 73-year-old New Port Richey retiree who spent 26 years in the Army. His trouble started last spring, when he tacked a 4-by-7-foot American flag on the front of his house in the Arborwood at Summertree development. On Sept. 12, he added a 5-by-9-foot flag to his roof. The homeowners association asked him to put his flag on a flagpole. 

"It didn't sit too well with this old soldier," Taggart said. 

Still, he complied. 

"It's over with now," Taggart said. 

- Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. 
 © St. Petersburg Times
By Willow Vance
As a member of Cyber Citizens for Justice I salute the Legislature's late effort to pass a bill to permit residents in homeowner associations to uphold our American tradition of flying our flag.
      But the deeper issue is WHY Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, or Inspector General Marcia Cooke has never revoked any CDD charter  of FL. homeowners' associations for a violation of public trust and failure to comply with nonprofit-mutual benefit statutes,  which require reasonable, fair-minded etc. decisions voted and approved by ALL members, not deep-pocket lawyers controling power mad directors?
       Common interest developments are the brain child of Urban Land Renewal and begun in 1963 when congress mistakingly released federal funds from Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, VA and HUD loans to finance self-maintenance communities(?) for one reason only. They tricked over 57 million buyers into signing non-disclosure contracts to pay double property tax and only get deductions for one- and allowed all tax assessors, to discriminate on property tax revenue against  CDD homeowners,  while ALL tax from other residents continued to cover cost used to maintain streets,trash, police and fire etc.

Not one politician raised a bribed hand to stop this equal protection violation!
       A California citizen from Malaysia, in San Clemente, CA was told police would not protect her from Hate crime violence because a homeowner association is private property? 
       A group of homeowners in Florida recieved death threats ignored by Attorney General Butterworth who has refused to honor civil rights in Florida on excuse his staff is too small, budget too tight. So CDD owners are a man without a country.
        It is time for congress and state legislatures to correct their mistake and abolish all CID rogue governments before they create a whole group of homeless refugees driven to bankruptcy by grief-case lawyers by the misuse of force.
        The United States will suffer a new depression like 1929 if they continue to allow homeowner associations to leave people homeless, bankrupt or dying;  like Jim Troutman who shot himself after years of HOA hostile harrassment and Al Gray who suffered a fatal heart attack, and the Gilbert, Az shootout by a man whose home was foreclosed by HOA lawyers over his right to trim his shrubs as he saw fit. The homeowner was driven over the edge when his HOA lawyers fined him $500,  stole his home in illegal foreclosure (no due process) and forced the depressed senior and wife to live out of his truck. He shot five board members, leaving three dead.
        The warning signs are clear. America is facing a poor economy due to the fact that 57 million homeowners are now robbed by double taxes, frivolous lawsuits and nonjudicial foreclosures under color of the law. The flag-flying disputes are a warning, don't rally around the flag laws, rally around constitutional property rights and dissolve this fifth level of gulag government, called homeowner's association before Florida ends up like Texas where Harris County had 11,000 homeowners in foreclosure by unAmerican homeowner association theft sanctioned by congress, because they failed to heed the warning of George Washington, " Government is NOT reason, it is not eloquence. It IS force, like fire and like fire it is a dangeorus and fearful matter." " Quasi-governments destroy property rights and lives, not just flying flags. " 

World War Two Military Widow, Willowdean Wootten Vance,
"Tired of sacficing my family for a freedom that no longer exists."

Please read our other articles by clicking on headlines!
Right-to-fly flag bill proceeds
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