Waiving The Right To Wave The Flag
Wednesday - February 17, 2010
I love our country and I have deep appreciation for those who serve her. I applaud and respect the men and women who choose to dedicate their lives in order to protect ours. I revere our nation’s symbols of Americana. A recent visit to Washington, D.C., solidified my affection for America. The Smithsonian preserves our relics, the U.S. Capitol represents our representatives, the White House serves as the “People’s House” and the various monuments immortalize the individuals and events that have shaped our nation.
Chief among the imagery of our country is the American flag. I have a “rush” each time I see the Stars and Stripes.
State Rep. Kymberly Pine (R) - 43rd District recently introduced legislation on behalf of a constituent regarding his desire to install a flagpole on his property to display the American flag. As a member of a homeowners association, Harold Alejandro is battling for the ability to display his flag.
Mr. Alejandro is a retired master sergeant and veteran of the Iraq War, and personifies the best America has to offer. But he and Rep. Pine are on the wrong side of this issue.
Let me cut to the chase. We all go into contracts with open eyes. If we don’t, then it’s our own fault if we discover something unexpected. It’s even more our responsibility to adhere to contractual obligations if we accept every detail and their ramifications. Mr. Alejandro did one of two things. When he bought his home as a member of a HOA, he either did not know of the contractual restrictions applicable to his property, or he did know the content and, with his signature, accepted them.
Because ignorance of the law is not a defense, Mr. Alejandro cannot plead such ignorance in pursuing a favorable decision on his dilemma. I am not saying this is the case, but it’s a scenario that needs to be addressed.
Second, if Mr. Alejandro was fully aware of the HOA restrictions, his pursuit to change the rules (ostensibly to receive special dispensation for his grievance) via the Legislature is inappropriate. The fundamental message is if you accept the rules in the beginning, then you should adhere to the rules for the duration.
Part of the problem is the nature of HOAs. It’s not democratic and, in some ways, it’s its own fiefdom. The laws regarding HOAs vary greatly throughout the U.S. Some states, including Texas, California and Florida, have numerous laws addressing HOAs, while other states have a minimal number of laws on the books.
If you are not prepared to reap the benefits - and the limitations - of a HOA, then don’t buy one of its houses.
I can appreciate trying to make right if you believe you are wronged. Petitioning the state Legislature and a lawmaker thereby using the time and power of government to effect change to a transparent HOA dispute smacks just a bit of grandstanding. If there are to be challenges, upon exhausting the dispute procedures within the HOA, litigation should be the next step. A civil court is the arena, not the halls of TheBigSquareBuilding on Beretania Street.
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