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Archive for December 3rd, 2009

Senator Webb Urges ‘Reasonable Resolution” of Homeowner Association Dispute Involving World War II Veteran’s Display of American Flag  

From the Office of Senator Jim Webb

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) today sent a letter to the legal representative, Karen S. Peterson, of the Sussex Square Homeowners Association in Henrico County to urge “reasonable resolution” of a homeowner dispute between the Association and Medal of Honor winner Colonel Van Barfoot over the installation of a flagpole in the yard of his home for purposes of displaying the American flag.  

Senator Webb wrote in the letter, “As a fellow combat veteran, I hope you and the Association will consider the exceptional nature of Col. Barfoot’s service when considering his pride and determination in honoring our flag. I am pleased to join with many area citizens in expressing my concern over the action taken by the Sussex Square Homeowners Association.”

“Since it appears that Col. Barfoot’s request was denied based on subjective criteria as opposed to an explicit regulatory violation of the covenants governing the Homeowner’s Association, I would hope that your clients would exercise the discretion afforded to them to develop a reasonable resolution that would allow this distinguished combat veteran to honor our nation in a manner in keeping with the established traditions, customs and regulations governing the display of the flag of the United States of America,” wrote Senator Webb at the conclusion of the letter.

 

 

Text of Webb’s letter follows:

December 3, 2009

Karen S. Peterson 

Attorney-at-Law

Coates & Davenport, P.C.
5206 Markel Road, Suite 200
Richmond VA 23230

Dear Ms. Peterson:

I have been made aware of a situation involving a dispute between your client, the Sussex Square Homeowners Association in Henrico County, Virginia, and a homeowner, Van Barfoot, a retired Army Colonel. It is my understanding that Col. Barfoot installed a flagpole in the yard of his home for purposes of displaying the American flag and that the Homeowners Association is now requiring him to remove this flag pole under threat of legal action.  I have been informed that the covenants governing this neighborhood association do not expressly forbid installation of flag poles and that the association opposed the flag pole on the grounds of its aesthetics.

I am mindful that the Association is a private entity, and I respect its right to regulate such matters. At the same time, as you are aware, Col. Barfoot served this country with great distinction, and I am very disturbed by the treatment that he received as he attempted to honor our nation by flying the American flag in the front yard of his home. The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed on a member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself “conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” As a fellow combat veteran, I hope you and the Association will consider the exceptional nature of Col. Barfoot’s service when considering his pride and determination in honoring our flag. I am pleased to join with many area citizens in expressing my concern over the action taken by the Sussex Square Homeowners Association. 

Since it appears that Col. Barfoot’s request was denied based on subjective criteria as opposed to an explicit regulatory violation of the covenants governing the Homeowner’s Association, I would hope that your clients would exercise the discretion afforded to them to develop a reasonable resolution that would allow this distinguished combat veteran to honor our nation in a manner in keeping with the established traditions, customs and regulations governing the display of the flag of the United States of America.

                                                                        Sincerely,

                                                                        Jim Webb

                                                                        United States Senator

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Virginia Homeowner’s Board Orders 90-year-old Medal of Honor Winner to Remove Flagpole, or Else!

By Jerry A. Kane

In a priority mail five-paragraph letter, the Coates & Davenport law firm in Richmond has ordered Colonel Van Barfoot to remove the pole by 5 p.m. Friday or face legal action. According to the letter, Barfoot would have to pay all legal fees and costs if the legal proceeding pursued by Sussex Square Homeowners Association is successful.

Family members say Barfoot is the most decorated American combat veteran alive. He has been awarded more than 20 medals, including the Medal of Honor, The Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, The Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. This fall, his native state of Mississippi named a portion of a highway after him and a building at McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, is named in his honor.

Wounded in combat three times, the World War II, Korea, and Vietnam veteran raises the American flag every morning on the pole, then lowers and folds the flag in a three-corner military fashion at dusk each day.

Although the homeowner’s association doesn’t explicitly forbid flagpoles, its policy stipulates they must be “aesthetically appropriate,” which means only short flags on porches are permitted.

Margaret Nicholls, Barfoot’s daughter, said the board ordered her dad’s free-standing flag pole removed in July, ruling that such flag poles are not pleasing to the board’s eye.

But Barfoot holds a more dignified respect for the flag:

“[a short flag on a porch] shows you got it in the half mast position… you can walk around here and I’ll bet you the American flag is hanging out in the rain, nobody ever checks it.”

The Homeowners Association remains adamant in prosecuting Barfoot for violating the board’s denial of his request to erect a flagpole. Barfoot flew the flag on Veteran’s Day this year in spite of the board’s decision.

“This is not about the American flag. This about a flagpole,” reads a statement issued by the board.

Not flying the flag would be a sacrilege to Barfoot:

“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.

Barfoot’s daughter who lives a few doors away said, “Dad sort of feels like this is the end.” But she and her husband are not giving up. They are trying to generate support for her father’s flag-raising rite that he has performed for most of his life.

Since this saga began, Barfoot has received a sympathetic outpouring and offers of help from a lot of people, including national radio talk show host Mark Levin and US Senator Mark Warner.

Write Colonel Van T Barfoot at:

11815 Coat Bridge Ln, Richmond, VA 23238

Write, phone, or fax the law firm representing the home owner association at:

Coates & Davenport

5206 Markel Road, Suite 200

Richmond VA 23230

Toll Free: (800) 450-8311

Local Phone: (804) 285-7000

General Fax: (804) 285-2849

Real Estate Fax: (804) 285-3426

Phone Sussex Square Service HOA at: (804) 740-8795

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One of the biggest worldwide scams ever perpetrated and Boxer wants to persecute the whistleblower hackers and not the scientists and those responsible for the fraud. Boxer and the progressives care doodly-squat about science or justice; they care only about imposing their leftist agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but how does the US Code give Congress the authority to investigate an alleged “crime” that occurred outside the United States?

I.M. Kane

Sen. Boxer’s First Remarks on Climategate –

We May Or May Not Have Hearings on Climategate

Boxer: Hackers should face criminal probe over ‘Climategate’

By Michael O’Brien

Leaked e-mails allegedly undermining climate change science should be treated as a criminal matter, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said Wednesday afternoon.

Boxer, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said that the recently released e-mails, showing scientists allegedly overstating the case for climate change, should be treated as a crime.

“You call it ‘Climategate’; I call it ‘E-mail-theft-gate,'” she said during a committee meeting.

“Whatever it is, the main issue is, Are we facing global warming or are we not? I’m looking at these e-mails, that, even though they were stolen, are now out in the public.”

The e-mails, from scientists at the University of East Anglia, were obtained through hacking. The messages showed the director of the university’s Climate Research Unit discussing ways to strengthen the unit’s case for global warming. Climate change skeptics have seized on the e-mails, arguing that they demonstrate manipulation in environmental science.

Boxer said her committee may hold hearings into the matter as its top Republican, Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), has asked for, but that a criminal probe would be part of any such hearings.

“We may well have a hearing on this, we may not. We may have a briefing for senators, we may not,” Boxer said.

“Part of our looking at this will be looking at a criminal activity which could have well been coordinated.

“This is a crime,” Boxer said.

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Iranian terror network in S. America

By Hilary Leila Krieger

The Argentinean prosecutor who ferreted out Iranian links to Argentina’s largest terror attack warned Wednesday of Teheran’s growing terror network in Latin America.

“The Iranians are moving fast,” assessed Alberto Nisman, who has secured Interpol backing for the arrest of several Iranians, including former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, for ordering the July 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community offices in Buenos Aires.

“We see a much greater penetration than we did in 1994.”

He said that Iran, particularly through Lebanese proxy Hizbullah, has a growing presence in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, using techniques it honed in Argentina before the country took measures to counter Teheran following the AMIA bombing.

He described sham operations involving taxi drivers, who conducted surveillance without arousing suspicion; fake medical school students, who could stay in the country for many years without raising eyebrows; and business fronts that helped funnel cash to operatives.

Meanwhile, the Iranians cultivated ties at the local mosques to search for people who could be radicalized.

Now, he said, Argentina is considered a “hostile environment” for Iran, but the Iranian terrorist groups are finding fertile ground in other countries.

“The stronger element that happens today is the complicity of the government,” said Nisman, pointing to the networks Iran develops through its embassies.

“We know that Chavez allows Hizbullah to come in.”

Nisman, who spoke through a Spanish interpreter at a Foundation for Defense of Democracies event Wednesday, said he regularly shared the information he has gathered on Iranian and Hizbullah activities with other countries in an effort to get them to act.

He described responses of “surprise” at how clear the evidence against Iran is in the AMIA case as well as “interest” in the case and the issue of the terror ties.

But, he stressed, “Much more can be done and hopefully will be done before it’s too late.”

Referring to countries who have not done all they could, particularly in bringing the Iranian perpetrators of the AMIA attack to justice, he continued, “There are too many countries in Europe that continue to turn a blind eye … like [they did] with the Nazis.”

Nisman called on these countries to refuse to welcome Iranian leaders to international forums like the United Nations until they adhere to the Interpol-backed warrants and hand over the men wanted by Argentina.

“Iran will not long be able to resist,” he contended.

“It can’t fight against the entire world.”

Still, Nisman said he is contemplating additional avenues for bringing the suspects to trial, and the Argentinean courts have already taken some civil actions, with $1.5 million in assets turned over to victims and $633 million attached pending resolution of the case.

He has already succeeded in indicting a former Argentinean president and judge involved in the AMIA case for hindering the investigation and being involved in corruption.

He credited US and Israeli intelligence officers in helping him find the right trails to follow over the course of his three-year investigation, begun a decade after the attack and substantially concluded in 2007. [emphasis mine]

Both are due to stand trial soon, according to Nisman.

Nisman maintained that he has not given up hope that he will send these top Iranian figures to jail, pointing to the unexpected internal fissures resulting from June’s flawed presidential elections as a sign of the potential for change.

“The Iranian revolution has been going for 30 years. It’s going to end someday,” he said.

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Bah! Humbug!: Town outlaws Merry Christmas sign

Made by firefighters 50 years ago

By Crystal Bozek

First it was the menorah on the town common. Now it’s the Merry Christmas sign on the fire station.

The town has put an end to a longtime holiday tradition ordering firefighters to take down their homemade Merry Christmas sign from outside the fire station after people complained. The sign had been up for a week before it was taken down Friday.

Fire Chief William Martineau said the sign was made by firefighters some 50 years ago and was never an issue before.

“I think Christmas is officially a religious holiday. But to all of us, it has always been a holiday for the kids,” Martineau said.

“It just seems sad.”

The sign is now sitting in the basement and there’s only one decoration hanging from the station — a Happy New Year sign.

This is the second holiday controversy in two weeks for the town.

Andover Rabbi Asher Bronstein has threatened a lawsuit against North Andover after the selectmen would not let him place a menorah on the town common for all eight days of Hanukkah.

Selectmen voted on Nov. 23 to allow the menorah for one day. They argue that their new town common policy only allows displays to stay up for one day, no matter what they are. That way all groups have equal time and there is no discrimination.

Attorneys for the town and the rabbi are in talks.

Town officials said yesterday that the menorah fight is what caused Merry Christmas to be outlawed at the fire station for the first time in five decades.

“This is political correctness run amok,” selectmen’s Chairman Tracy Watson said.

“It’s really an unfortunate turn of events. … This has become all about religion, and from the start it has had nothing to do with religion. We were enforcing a policy.”

Selectmen’s phones are ringing off the hook with calls from all sides. The town is divided into people who believe the menorah should get its eight days and those who think the selectmen’s policy is fair. Some do not want to see any religious displays on the common, saying even a day is too much.

Watson said she expects taking down the Merry Christmas sign is only going to rile people up more.

“It’s going to make a lot of people angry,” she said.

Town Manager Mark Rees said the fight over the menorah brought a “heightened sensitivity to these kind of issues.”

“Well, it is a public building and Merry Christmas certainly is a Christian reference,” Rees said.

A public building should not be displaying things specific to a particular religion.”

Rees said he hopes to work with the Fire Department to put up a more appropriate sign.

“Maybe a more generic ‘Happy Holidays,'” he said.

Something more inclusive.” [emphasis mine]

The town has wreaths with red bows hanging on poles throughout downtown and has decorated the trees in the town common with white lights every year. Those are allowed because they are called secular decorations.

Attorney Robert Meltzer of Framingham, who represents Bronstein on the menorah issue, said it was unfortunate that the sign was taken down from the fire station.

“I’m sorry they felt the need to do that,” Meltzer said.

“I don’t like to see those things intertwined. … It has not been part of any of our conversations with the town.”

Meltzer said he is trying to work with North Andover town counsel to resolve the menorah issue without a lawsuit. North Andover selectmen meet in executive session Friday to discuss what to do — whether to take on the rabbi or make concessions.

“We haven’t made any decisions yet,” Watson said.

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