FLYING "OLD GLORY" ?
Date: 05-28-2003; Publication: Hannity & Colmes (Fox News Network);
Author: Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes
But first ex-Marine George Andres almost lost his home because the American flag is flying in his own backyard. His homeowners association says the flagpole is not allowed and they're trying to make George pay their legal fees of more than $20,000.
Joining us now in Boynton Beach, Florida, George Andres. George, welcome to the program.
GEORGE ANDRES, FIGHTING OVER FLAG ON PROPERTY: Thank you.
COLMES: I on the one hand think you should listen to the homeowners' association, since there are rules, but I also think it's insane that they're trying to take your home away from you over this. Tell us what's going on.
ANDRES: Well, the homeowners association
back in 1989 gave me permission
A new board came in in 1999, several months later, and wrote me a letter and said I was in violation of the homeowners' documents. Now I've been in that homeowners' association for a long time and I have never seen nothing in the documents. And I told them show me the documents, where it is, and next thing I know I get a letter from their lawyer telling me that if I don't take it down he is going to take me into court.
COLMES: Now do other homes have similar displays of the flag, are they all attached to the house with a bracket as the homeowners' association suggests?
And there's your flagpole we're showing right here.
ANDRES: Right. Well, the flagpole is the only one in phase 3-B, but there are 15 subdivisions in Indian Creek where I live and there are quite a few flagpoles standing in the other places because the people -- the homeowners' association allowed them.
Our homeowners' association has no rules or regulations, which the state law says they're supposed to have, and they have no rules or regulations. So I put the flagpole up to Title 36 USC-10 which is part of the United States...
COLMES: We just showed Jeb Bush, the governor, who apparently has come to your support here, had him out to your home.
Tell us what happened. How could you lose your home here over this?
ANDRES: Well, the lawyer for the homestead -- for the homeowners' association took me into court and I went to -- had a judge tell them that they could go ahead and foreclose on my house. That judge violated my state law on the homestead exemption.
In the state of Florida the homestead exemption says that there's only three ways a house can be foreclosed, and the lawyer's fee was not one of the ways that it could be foreclosed. The state attorney general's office stepped in to protect the homestead law and at that time they brought their lawyer into the courtroom and their lawyer explained to the judge what the homestead law is, and three days later the judge reversed his findings.
HANNITY: Hey, George, Sean Hannity here, my friend. You're a great American. You can live next to me anytime you want, George, and fly that flag any way you want, buddy.
I'm glad that Governor Bush got involved. I'm going to see him, we' re going to be interviewing him for this program on Friday night. I'll be down in Florida. And I'm going to ask him about your case.
But I mean, it was a pretty gutsy thing for him and the attorney general to get involved in. How did that happen?
ANDRES: Well, back in 2001 the governor -- I was on a lot of radio stations and my story was all over the United States in the newspaper.
Local newspaper that we had actually did a big story on me and it got all over and the governor had over 4,000 e-mails and tons of letters from people from all over the United States telling him...
HANNITY: How are many members are doing this to you, then?
ANDRES: Just the board.
HANNITY: Just the board?
ANDRES: My neighbors -- just the board members. In fact, there's only three of them that are doing it. I got 15 of my homeowners that belong to the association who are suing the board for what they're doing.
HANNITY: Well, let me just remind people, I want to go through just a couple of little facts here.
You got permission to fly it in '98. You knew there was a state law that says a homeowners' association cannot prohibit the flying of a flag.
That's in part there.
You've had to spend $40,000 of your own money. They got $4,001 out of your account, they took your social security checks, your pension checks, and you had to fight to get your own money back, right?
ANDRES: That's right. And they still have the $4,100 because the judge said that they could have that money. And the judge who did that was in violation of the state law.
HANNITY: Yes. Now how are you financially? Are you OK or is this bankrupting you?
ANDRES: Well, it put me into some pretty rough shape and I had some friends of mine who took care of me. But we had it pretty rough when they took our social security, took my wife's and mine.
HANNITY: But you got it back, though, right? You got your money back and you're living large again for the most part and you're just fighting?
ANDRES: Well, if you call living on your social security living large, yes.
HANNITY: I'm kidding. I'm just teasing.
COLMES: Well, we hope you have a happy resolution here. And this is crazy to have your home taken away over this. Insane. We hope we can have a happy ending to this story.
HANNITY: You're a great American, buddy.
COLMES: Thanks for being with us.
ANDRES: As long as the attorney general does his job there we'll be OK.
COLMES: All right, sir. Thank you for being on our show.
ANDRES: Thank you.