Florida Senate 2003 - SB 260 Senator Mike Fasano
Fasano fights ban on service flag flying

Article Courtesy of the St. Petersburg Times
Published January 17, 2003 

Condo owners who are military veterans soon could be able to fly their service flags without a hitch. 

In his first bill as a state senator, Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, filed a proposal last week to allow condo unit owners to fly armed services flags on designated days and patriotic holidays. 

His action stems from a controversy close to home. Fasano lives in Heritage Lakes Estates. Last May, the Three Westminster Condominium Association within Heritage Lakes told a U.S. Marine Corps veteran to stop flying his service flag. 

George Fisher and his neighbors in the other two dozen homes in the association were sent a letter from the group's president telling them to stop flying anything but the American flag. 

Fasano's proposed law, Senate Bill 260, was filed Jan. 8. 

"As promised, we made a commitment that it would be the first bill that we filed (in the Senate)," Fasano said of his campaign promise last year when he was still a state representative before winning the November election. 

Fasano said the bill likely will be sent to the committee that he chairs, a committee that oversees military and veterans affairs. After that, he said, it could pass to the full Senate. The bill could take effect July 1. 

Last April, Gov. Jeb Bush signed a law allowing homeowners to fly the American flag in a reasonable, respectful manner and to sue their homeowners associations if the groups forbid it. 

Fisher and his neighbors turned to Fasano for help after getting letters from the association president, Grace Macchia, telling them stop flying the service flags. 

Fisher, 71, a former gunnery sergeant, flies his red Marine Corps flag with the American flag on military and national holidays, such as Veterans Day and Flag Day. He served 12 years in the Marine Corps between active and reserve duty and four years in the Navy reserve. 

He said he was surprised at the speed of Fasano's actions. 

"Sometimes (politicians) say things, and for whatever reasons, they don't deliver," Fisher said. "He certainly did deliver quicker than I thought." 

Fisher said he and some of the 11 other veterans on his block flew their service flags on special occasions through the autumn. 

Given their sacrifices, Fisher said, he and the other men thought, "No one has the right to tell me I can't fly the flag." 

The association sent more letters. 

Then in November, the community voted off association president Macchia and two members from the condo board. 

Macchia could not be reached Thursday for comment. 

In her letter to condo owners last May, she explained her position: "It would not be meeting the standards of a fiduciary if some unit owners were given a privilege that is not accorded to all the other unit owners, no matter how worthy." 

The new president, Eleanor Hunt, said she had no problem with the residents flying the service flag. Several of her family members fought in the military, including a brother in the U.S. Army infantry who was killed during the invasion at Normandy. 

Fisher said he especially wanted to show his patriotism now that more young men and women are being sent to possibly fight a war in Iraq. 

Added Fisher: "I would gladly go back into service if they'd accept me." 

Please read our other articles by clicking here!