Senate 2003 - SB 260 Senator Mike Fasano
fights ban on service flag flying
Article Courtesy of the St. Petersburg
By SAUNDRA AMRHEIN
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
He said he was surprised at the speed of
"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
Given their sacrifices, Fisher said, he
and the other men thought, "No one has the right to tell me I can't fly
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
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."