guest blog by Deborah Goonan
Finally, some common sense prevails in an Indiana flag dispute, thanks to intervention by Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Griffin.
In an October 23rd letter to the Fieldstone HOA Board of Directors, Griffin strongly urges the Association to resolve its dispute by November 1, or face legal suit to stop enforcement of penalties against the Willits household.
Check out the link to Griffin’s letter below, in which he states, among other things: “In summary, the association does not have a legally‐sufficient “substantial interest” invoked by the Willits’ display. Under the Flag Act, without a “substantial interest,” the association cannot regulate the Willits’ flagpole and American flag.”
And, furthermore, that “Aesthetic preference is not a legally‐sufficient “substantial interest” of the association with respect to American flag display, and I know of no other reason for an association to distinguish between flagpoles attached to the facade of a home and free‐standing flagpoles.”
By October 29, the matter was resolved. The Willits’ flag can stay; pole and all, including the POW-MIA flag. Fox 59 news reports that a compromise deal has been reached. The Willits will have to remove the flag and flagpole in the future when their house is sold.
The dispute dragged on for months. Griffin became involved after the story received national attention in the media.
Although the dispute is officially resolved, and the Willits received hundreds of phone calls of support, some of their neighbors have sent them anonymous hate mail, and Board members have also received threats.
What price, happiness in your HOA?
ps: Perhaps in Florida, Duval County Prosecuting Attorney can follow Griffin’s lead, with regard to Larry Murphree’s flag dispute with Sweetwater by Del Webb Master HOA?
(link to Fox 59 television news report on flag dispute)
(link to letter from Prosecuting Attorney Griffin to Fieldstone HOA Board)
DA’s across the country should be taking a greater interest in the HOA abuses and especially, the criminality, selective discrimination, fraudulent lawsuits, slapp lawsuits, created conflict for cash and property, and yes, even flag pole issues within them. Too many DA’s have been lax, lazy, not interested, in denial, or as in Monroe County, PA too involved with their own “issues,” at the time and/or lack the “manpower”. The other issue is that DA’s are elected and they only care about who is funding and supporting them. Many times the thieves thugs and bullies in the HOA abuses and criminality are those who have helped get a DA elected to office. I saw this first hand with an attorney who was supposed to be representing an HOA homeowner against this outrageous criminality. The “powerful” HOA board apparently cornered her at during a short break and some advised her of how much they had contributed to her DA’s race. She told her client she would be back following the lunch break and never came back. They forced the homeowner to proceed with the trial on their own!
What about homeowner abuse, violating the law and criminality don’t DA’s get? Let’s hope this DA sets an example for the many DA’s across the country and they realize the HOA abuses and crimes are their responsibility too!
It’s disturbing, yet fascinating, that this issue is STILL coming up. How many years now have these stories appeared in INTERNATIONAL news stories, about HOAs hassling people for any number of reasons, flying an American flag on their property and the HOAs still lose! That there are that many people with that sort of a mindset PLUS a short enough attention span that they can’t foresee such an outcome?! It SHOULD [but won’t], put the State DA on notice as to what sort of behaviors occur in HOAs and for them to yank that scab off and let some healing fresh air and sunlight in.
As often as one reads the stupidity of cases like the flag there are probably 10,000 cases of HOA actions which never get any attention other than the homeowner usually ends up paying a ton of money to the greedy HOA. I really wonder why HOA appear to hate the USA flag. I wonder if it is because the flag represent the brave and free and members of an HOA can be neither because government allows the HOA special status. Why a private business needs special treatment is not clear to me but I suspect it is nothing but pure money and those that are bribed.