By Marc Caputo, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
may not help Jupiter flag-flier
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
"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."