I may actually have to quit doing stories on HOAs that fine and foreclose on veterans who try to display the America flag on their homes. There are just too many of them. Despite my earlier promise to report on all these outrageous cases, I’d just end up doing several such stories a day and not much else.
So, I hereby reluctantly admit that the anti-American, anti-homeowner movement, CAI, Associa, American Bar Association, ACLU are too firmly rooted in our society to ever win back our right to display the flag on our homes. We might still be able to put flag decals on car bumpers, but that, too, is under attack.
Greed is a powerful taskmaster. When a lawyer knows he can automatically make a few thousand bucks every time he sues a flag-waving veteran like Larry McMurphree, when a morally corrupt HOA board knows it can put a few hundred extra bucks in the neighborhood kitty by fining any homeowner who even thinks displaying a flag is patriotic, then I guess that portion of our battle is lost.
The really weird thing is that if you displayed a Nazi Flag or the Rainbow Flag, or any of the flags representing the Islamic Revolution, you actually might have a stronger case in court.
The courts have long recognized that certain people groups have protected status under our Constitution and cannot be allowed to suffer the indignities sometimes shown to people of other belief systems. They’ll get free representation in court. The owner of a Stars and Stripes flag never will.
Stranger still, it’s absolutely OK to desecrate the flag, trample on it, burn it, those are all protected forms of speech according to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It hurts to say all this. It really does.
(Tampa CBS story on veteran being sued by his HOA)
(Elisabeth Hasselback talks about flag story)
(good news for flag-flying veteran)
My summary and analysis (and opinions) of the Murphree case, based on various sources and my own experience, are at
I’m not sure why you include the ACLU in that list.
While I’m no fan of the ACLU for many reasons, in just this one instance, the ACLU did more for home owners in H.O.A.s than all of the conservative and libertarian groups like Cato, Institute for Justice, the Inependence Institute, and the Goldwater Institute ever did. Ask George Staropoli; he was on top of this long before I ever figured it out.
I spoke to Larry Murphree via phone on Sunday 6/29/14. He told me his dues are auto pay from his checking account. However, just as you addressed:
“After applying dues payments to disputed fines and fees (including attorney fees), H.O.A. corporations then slander homeowners as “delinquents” who “don’t pay their dues”. It happened to me, and to God knows how many other home owners across the country.”
The HOA is doing the exact same thing to him. They are using his dues to pay the fines over the flag. And then declaring he is not paying his dues and proceeding with foreclosure.
They will not provide him with a detailed billing of the $8,000 they claim is in arrears. Additionally, he said, while he was hospitalized having surgery the HOA auto withdrew more money than he had authorized to be withdrawn.
I suspect most of the $8,000 that they won’t account for is for attorney fees from the case that was dismissed earlier this year, even though the judge DENIED the H.O.A. corporation’s motion for attorney fees.
It happened to me four years ago.
Robert, I agree with quite a lot of your analysis, to include your analysis of the ACLU. However, I am confused by your reference to Libertarians as being behind rigid HOA restrictions and rules.
Here is how the Libertarians describe themselves:
http://www.lp.org/faq state in part:
“What is a Libertarian?
Libertarians believe in, and pursue, personal freedom while maintaining personal responsibility. The Libertarian Party itself serves a much larger pro-liberty community with the specific mission of electing Libertarians to public office.
Libertarians strongly oppose any government interfering in their personal, family and business decisions. Essentially, we believe all Americans should be free to live their lives and pursue their interests as they see fit as long as they do no harm to another.
In a nutshell, we are advocates for a smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom.
Are Libertarians liberal or conservative?
Libertarians are neither. Unlike liberals or conservatives, Libertarians advocate a high degree of both personal and economic liberty. For example, Libertarians advocate freedom in economic matters, so we’re in favor of lowering taxes, slashing bureaucratic regulation of business, and charitable — rather than government — welfare. But Libertarians are also socially tolerant. We won’t demand laws or restrictions on other people who we may not agree because of personal actions or lifestyles.
Think of us as a group of people with a “live and let live” mentality and a balanced checkbook.”
Why would a “socially tolerant” group that favors “more freedom” and with a “live and let live” philosophy give a hoot about a little flag in a flower pot? What part of the Libertarian philosophy embraces collectivism? It seems to me that Libertarians are not behind excessive HOA restrictions and strict enforcement of rules.
Likewise, an explanation of the Tea Party http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ appears to indicate that they would be IN FAVOR OF AMERICAN FLAG DISPLAYS.
In my opinion, abhorrent HOA harassment of residents through extortion and legal abuse is a result of pure greed and a quest for power, regardless of stated political affiliation.
Please re-read the excerpt from Reason I posted above. Reason is the premier small-“l” libertarian, if not big-“L” Libertarian, publication in the country. I read it religously throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, when I was a conservative-libertarian or libertarian-conservative. Also, I used to be a volunteer “research associate” for the Independence Institute, a libertarian-leaning think-tank in Colorado. I have had a few articles published on National Review‘s web site. So it is not as though I had some anti-conservative or anti-libertarian bias when my H.O.A. experience began.
I’ve posted related thoughts here (PDF), here (it’s a long blog post but it does get to a point, so please bear with it), and here.
If you disagree with my characterization of H.O.A. corporations as conservative and/or libertarian, answer this simple question:
Or, name one single proposal that Libertarians or Republicans have put forward to protect home owners governed by H.O.A. corporations. *
You don’t have to take my word for it. Ask George Staropoli, who has written about conservative and libertarian think-tanks such as the Cato Institute, the Goldwater Institute, and the Institute for Justice (FYI: I used to donate to IJ).
Although I am critical of conservatives and libertarians, don’t think that I believe the Democrats/liberals/progressives have been helpful — the Left has been worse than useless (e.g., Colorado state senator Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora). But the ideological and philisophical basis of H.O.A. governance is undeniably conservative and libertarian. And those who believe that government should not interfere or regulate private H.O.A. corporations, that privatization of government is always better, are going to be the biggest obstacle to any meaningful reform.
There’s an old Vulcan proverb that says “Only Nixon could go to China”. Ironically, I believe that only the same folks who are the biggest obstacle to H.O.A. regulation that can take the lead in this generation’s civil rights struggle and enact truly meaningful H.O.A. reform that would actaully empower home owners.
See Chapter 10 of my book — available for free on my web site — or this 2-page flier (PDF, 1 sheet if printed double sided) for details.
Unfortunately, it would require the Republican Party to pull its head out of its arse, something I’m not sure it is capable of doing.
* If you answered “The Freedom To Display The American Flag Act of 2005”, you are wrong, because it obviously does not protect home owners who display the American flag.