Editorial: Old Glory costs thousands

This Flag Day, while many Americans forgot what day it was, Gov. Jeb Bush spent the little-noticed holiday in George Andres’ front yard, presenting the Marine Corps veteran with a flag that had once flown over the state capitol. Andres and Bush hoisted the flag on Andres’ 12-foot flagpole, a pole that is in direct violation of his homeowner’s agreement. Bush’s visit and subsequent comments may hurt the governor’s credibility by ignoring the importance of adhering to rules.

By giving Andres a flag and a personal check for $100, Bush is sending the wrong message to other Homeowner’s Association members. He admonished the Association by saying, ” … people ought to put aside their differences and their obsession with rules and regulations, and use common sense to make decisions,” according to a Tampa Tribune article published Sunday. Andres was ordered by a judge to take the flag down in October 2000 and has subsequently been fined $100 a day for as long as it remains up. Currently, Andres owes the Homeowner’s Association $30,000.

Bush’s statement ignores the common sense he espouses. Andres was well aware of the rules of the Homeowner’s Association when he moved in. The association does not object to the flying of a flag, but it stipulates that flags must be flown from brackets attached to the house.

Andres’ case received extra attention after Sept. 11, when patriotism was running rampant. However, Andres has at least two choices: Take down the pole or continue to pay the fine. He knew he had to get permission to fly the flag, and he didn’t. He should be more than ready to accept the consequences.

While Gov. Bush doesn’t want to look unpatriotic, he should recognize that Andres put himself in this predicament. There is nothing wrong with taking down the flagpole and attaching the flag to his house. Andres would still be showing his American pride, and it wouldn’t cost him $100 a day.