Author Topic: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...  (Read 4857 times)  

Offline 911jason

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http://www2.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/local/article/POLEGAT02_20091202-091201/309031/P0/

Henrico Medal of Honor recipient, 90, ordered to remove flagpole



Col. Van T. Barfoot, a local Medal of Honor recipient, is under the gun from his Henrico County community's homeowner association.

In a five-paragraph letter to Barfoot that he received yesterday, Barfoot is being ordered to remove a flagpole from his yard. The decorated veteran of three wars, now 90 years old, raises the American flag every morning on the pole, then lowers and folds the flag at dusk each day in a three-corner military fashion.

In a priority mail letter, the Coates & Davenport law firm in Richmond is ordering Barfoot to remove the pole by 5 p.m. Friday or face "legal action being brought to enforce the Covenants and Restrictions against you." The letter states that Barfoot will be subject to paying all legal fees and costs in any successful legal proceeding pursued by the homeowner association's board.

Barfoot's daughter said this evening that news reports about the association order have prompted an outpouring of sympathy and offers of help from people following her father's ordeal.

Tonight, the Sussex Square Homeowners Association issued a statement reiterating its position that Barfoot directly violated the association board's denial of his request to erect a flagpole.

"This is not about the American flag. This about a flagpole," the statement reads.

Barfoot lives in the Sussex Square community in far western Henrico; its board of directors rejected a plea from Barfoot in July to approve the pole, disallowing the fixture on aesthetic grounds.

There is no provision in the community's rules expressly forbidding flagpoles, Barfoot's daughter said. But she said the board ruled against her father's fixture and ordered it removed in July, deciding that free-standing flag poles are not aesthetically appropriate. Short flag stands attached to porches dot the community.

"Dad sort of feels like this is the end," said Margaret Nicholls, Barfoot's daughter, who lives a few doors away. But she said this morning that she and her husband are attempting to generate support for her father's cause, a flag-raising rite that he has undertaken for most of his life.

Barfoot received the Medal of Honor on the battlefield during World War II in Italy and fought as well in the Korean and Vietnam wars. A portion of a highway in rural Mississippi, his native state, was named in his honor this fall. A building at McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond also carries his name.

Barfoot began regularly flying the flag on Veteran's Day this year despite the Sussex Square board's decision.

He said in November that not flying the flag would be a sacrilege to him.

"There's never been a day in my life or a place I've lived in my life that you couldn't fly the American flag," he said.

For more on this story, see tomorrow's Richmond Times-Dispatch.

-- Bill McKelway

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    Offline MichelleR

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #1 on: December 03, 2009, 04:33:24 pm »
    Your subject line says it all.
    Michelle
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    Offline Angela

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #2 on: December 03, 2009, 04:50:39 pm »
    This is so wrong.
     

    Offline Ruby296

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #3 on: December 03, 2009, 04:51:17 pm »
    Don't these people have something better to do?  This is just beyond ridiculous, I hope the Colonel can beat this.

    Offline NogDog

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #4 on: December 03, 2009, 05:01:52 pm »
    My recommendation would be to put it to a vote of the entire community, but only allow those with an honorable discharge from the US armed forces to be allowed to vote (a.k.a. the Heinlein Starship Troopers political solution. ;) ).

    Seriously, though, I'll bet if there's enough media coverage that the association will either revoke their claim, or some level of local government will try to pass a bill saying that veterans - or at least MoH winners - must be allowed this privilege.

    A nearby neighbor of mine has a nice, brand new house with a separate flagpole in the front yard, and I find nothing aesthetically displeasing about it.

    Offline Sporadic

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #5 on: December 03, 2009, 05:03:02 pm »
    I'll be honest, I don't get what the issue is. That's the potential problem you run into when you live in a community with a HOA.

    His age or military service shouldn't play a role in the decision. He asked them if he could build a flagpole, they said no and he did it anyways.

    Also this quote

    Quote
    "There's never been a day in my life or a place I've lived in my life that you couldn't fly the American flag," he said.

    doesn't click with

    Quote
    Short flag stands attached to porches dot the community.

    So he can fly the flag, just not on a freestanding flagpole.

    - edit
    Seriously, though, I'll bet if there's enough media coverage that the association will either revoke their claim, or some level of local government will try to pass a bill saying that veterans - or at least MoH winners - must be allowed this privilege.

    I doubt it. This has already happened once before ten years ago and the HOA won.

    Quote
    This case is similar to one we covered about ten years ago when Richard Outlton, a Vietnam vet fought his homeowner's association over a 25-foot flagpole he put up in his yard. You may remember he lost in court.

    http://www.wtvr.com/news/wtvr-flag-follow-rob,0,2102842.story
    « Last Edit: December 03, 2009, 05:07:47 pm by Sporadic »

    Offline NogDog

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #6 on: December 03, 2009, 05:28:57 pm »
    I'll be honest, I don't get what the issue is. That's the potential problem you run into when you live in a community with a HOA.

    His age or military service shouldn't play a role in the decision. He asked them if he could build a flagpole, they said no and he did it anyways.
    ...

    You're right, certainly from a legal standpoint he has no leg to stand on, and the HOA is well within their rights. It just "feels" wrong to me -- which of course doesn't do him one bit of good. (The fact that he willfully ignored their rejection and just went ahead and did it rather than trying to rally the community behind him to change the ruling if it was that important to him, does constitute a bit of a strike against him in my eyes, too -- but still... :( )

    Offline Betsy the Quilter

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #7 on: December 03, 2009, 05:54:43 pm »
    I hate homeowners' associations.  Thank goodness we don't have one where we live.

    Betsy
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    Offline NogDog

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #8 on: December 03, 2009, 06:06:05 pm »
    ...
    (I don't know anything about the Heinlein Starship Troopers political solution, but I do know that it's not only those who have been discharged from the US armed forces who are patriotic.  Just sayin'. )


    In Heinlein's Starship Troopers, you had to serve in the military before you could earn the right to vote. (I'm not actually in favor of that as a real policy, nor am I sure Heinlein necessarily was, either; but this situation made me think of it.)

    Offline Betsy the Quilter

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #9 on: December 03, 2009, 06:20:25 pm »
    Thanks for clarifying!  I've read some Heinlein, but not that one!

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    Offline mlewis78

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #10 on: December 03, 2009, 06:45:03 pm »
    I don't like it when HOA's impose silly restrictions (including the flagpole) such as what color you choose to paint your house.
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    Offline Scheherazade

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #11 on: December 03, 2009, 06:51:32 pm »
    On the short flag pole issue... it sounds like it's an important sort of ritual for him to raise and lower the flag and that's just not something you can really do with one of those cheesy porch poles that are better off fluttering banners with birds and flowers on them.  I would just choose not to live somewhere with a home owner's association like that.  And yeah, he had better recourse to take than to simply ignore their ruling and do it anyway, but I can see why he would want a free-standing pole.  There's a whole ceremony with it that he wants to continue to observe like he has for so many years before now (from what I gathered in the article).
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    Offline geko29

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #12 on: December 03, 2009, 07:02:02 pm »
    Reason number 3,485,962 while I'll never live in a community with a Homowner's Association.  HOAs are proof positive of the ability to translate the stupidity of several into the misery of many.

    Offline 911jason

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #13 on: December 03, 2009, 07:25:16 pm »
    His age or military service shouldn't play a role in the decision. He asked them if he could build a flagpole, they said no and he did it anyways.

    I absolutely disagree with you on that statement. I think this is precisely where our country has gone wrong, common sense is so very uncommon. Your statement is probably the "politically correct" one, but think about what you're saying. A man who honorably and courageously served this country in three different wars and has put his life on the line for our flag should not absolutely have the right to display that same flag in a respectful manner in front of his own home? Really?

    Screw the rules. There are, and should always be, exceptions to the rules.

    Offline carlobee

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #14 on: December 03, 2009, 07:35:08 pm »

    Screw the rules. There are, and should always be, exceptions to the rules.

    Yeah. I would have to agree. On this matter, the HOA should just have been more considerate. They should have been proud of having him there.
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    Offline Carld

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #15 on: December 03, 2009, 07:44:15 pm »
    When you choose to move into an area with an HOA you agree to abide by their terms. Veterans, however much we appreciate them, don't get to write their own rules.

    Offline Carol Hanrahan

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #16 on: December 03, 2009, 08:05:17 pm »
    I hate HOA rules.  I understand them, just don't like 'em.

    Carol Hanrahan

    Offline Susan in VA

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #17 on: December 03, 2009, 08:30:01 pm »

    I'd say "screw the rules" too except that he did choose to move to a place with a HOA, and could have checked into this beforehand...  OTOH since he initially asked for permission, there was probably nothing in existence in their rules about flagpoles, and he might have just assumed that of course it would be all right.

    I dunno....  legally it's pretty clear, but it's still all wrong.  There do need to be exceptions to laws sometimes.

    As for voting rights, I think that that right should be restricted to people who can show that they have a basic grasp of the issues they're voting on (the specific issues in local voting, some demonstrable understanding of history and economics and social issues in national voting) ...  but that isn't a particularly popular point of view, nor is it PC, nor is it easily enforceable.   :-\




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    Offline Meemo

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #18 on: December 03, 2009, 08:40:34 pm »
    I hate homeowners' associations.  Thank goodness we don't have one where we live.

    I hate them too...then I open my front door and look across the street at the neighbors we call "the Clampetts" = not affectionately - and I start to rethink. 
    Sometimes HOAs wield more power than common sense.
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    Offline Jeff

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #19 on: December 03, 2009, 09:33:04 pm »
    This man is no ordinary veteran. The home owners should be proud to have him as a neighbor.

    Quote from: Medal of Honor citation
    For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 23 May 1944, near Carano, Italy. With his platoon heavily engaged during an assault against forces well entrenched on commanding ground, 2d Lt. Barfoot (then Tech. Sgt.) moved off alone upon the enemy left flank. He crawled to the proximity of 1 machinegun nest and made a direct hit on it with a hand grenade, killing 2 and wounding 3 Germans. He continued along the German defense line to another machinegun emplacement, and with his tommygun killed 2 and captured 3 soldiers. Members of another enemy machinegun crew then abandoned their position and gave themselves up to Sgt. Barfoot. Leaving the prisoners for his support squad to pick up, he proceeded to mop up positions in the immediate area, capturing more prisoners and bringing his total count to 17. Later that day, after he had reorganized his men and consolidated the newly captured ground, the enemy launched a fierce armored counterattack directly at his platoon positions. Securing a bazooka, Sgt. Barfoot took up an exposed position directly in front of 3 advancing Mark VI tanks. From a distance of 75 yards his first shot destroyed the track of the leading tank, effectively disabling it, while the other 2 changed direction toward the flank. As the crew of the disabled tank dismounted, Sgt. Barfoot killed 3 of them with his tommygun. He continued onward into enemy terrain and destroyed a recently abandoned German fieldpiece with a demolition charge placed in the breech. While returning to his platoon position, Sgt. Barfoot, though greatly fatigued by his Herculean efforts, assisted 2 of his seriously wounded men 1,700 yards to a position of safety. Sgt. Barfoot's extraordinary heroism, demonstration of magnificent valor, and aggressive determination in the face of pointblank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Medal_of_Honor_recipients_for_World_War_II#B

    Offline 911jason

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #20 on: December 04, 2009, 03:24:15 am »
    This man is no ordinary veteran. The home owners should be proud to have him as a neighbor.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Medal_of_Honor_recipients_for_World_War_II#B

    Thanks for posting that Jeff... that was exactly the point I was trying to make. I understand that legally, to the letter of the law, he is probably in the wrong. However, looking at the big picture, this man is a HERO in every sense of the word, he's not asking to spraypaint swastikas on his house or sunbathe nude in his front yard. He is displaying the very flag he repeatedly risked his life for. In three wars. Show me one person living in that housing development who has done more to protect the very land he has erected this flag pole on... then we'll talk.

    Offline webhill

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #21 on: December 04, 2009, 04:21:05 am »
    I also don't really get why it's so wrong. When you live in a place governed by an HOA, you sign papers at settlement regarding it, and you know what you're getting into. I know - I live in a place with an HOA! And don't get me wrong - I think our HOA, like many others, is petty, beaurocratic, annoying, and generally power-hungry and often wrong. That said, I also know that if I ask if I can erect a structure or make a change in the aesthetics of my property, they are within their rights to say no. Those mofos actually sent me a letter advising me that I had 24 hours to remove the approximately 5 cm square "national wildlife preserve" sign that my 9-year old had acquired for our property through dedicated hard work documenting existing wildlife habitats here, which we had stuck into the mulch surrounding a tree near our driveway. I mean, this was a tiny tiny sign on an 18" high dowel. But they were going to fine me $25/day so I removed it and requested a hearing on it, went to the hearing, pitched a fit, and got my way. But I didn't get my way when I wanted to build a fence that would keep out troublemaking kids from my vegetable garden, and so be it. It's not up to me. If I don't like it, I can move; if I like where I live enough to put up with this petty crap, I can stay, that's the beauty of our great country, right? But you can't choose to live somewhere with an HOA and then totally disregard the HOA and whine about it - reminds me of my parents b*tching about the airplanes flying over their house, which is about 1/4 mile from a small airport.

    Offline suicidepact

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #22 on: December 04, 2009, 04:42:01 am »
    Just unbelievable. I'm gobsmacked after reading that. What an insult to someone who has done so much for his country.  An absolute insult!

    Offline Geoffrey

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #23 on: December 04, 2009, 05:11:44 am »
    Don't know where to stand on this.  I personally hate HOAs.  One of the main selling points for the neighborhood I live in is it has an optional HOA - and even that one can be a bunch of old biddies complaining when someone puts their large trash out for pickup a day early.  I know there is an entire sub-culture that wants a neighborhood where everything looks alike and there are no visual 'surprises' to 'mar' the place - but I'm not a part of that.  I bought into a neighborhood built in the 60's where there is a riot of mature trees, houses that each look different from the other and families covering the range of age and ethnic groups (we're all in about the same socio-economic group, of course).

    That said, if someone moves into a neighborhood with a mandatory HOA, one should have known at the beginning what one was getting into.

    And, I hope there is a lot of press that embarrasses the HOA into changing their position on his flag pole.



    Offline Carld

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    Re: There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start...
    « Reply #24 on: December 04, 2009, 05:50:19 am »
    And, I hope there is a lot of press that embarrasses the HOA into changing their position on his flag pole.

    But then where do you draw the line as an HOA? Suppose the fellow across the way wants to show his religious convictions by erecting a 30-foot cross in his front yard. Are you going to say no to him after saying yes to the other guy? Making exceptions to supposed hard and fast rules is asking for a whole lot of trouble.

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