Local American flag debate gets national attention
It's the flag being heard around the nation.
The owner of Gieyric's Automotive Repair is getting national news attention about the city of Albany code enforcement saying he can't fly his American flag on the curb outside his business.
"The really good things that's come out on this now is that the flag itself has gotten some attention; not my flag but the U.S. flag in general," said Tom Gieyric."I'm fighting the fact that our government is telling me where I can put my flag and where I can't put my flag."
The city is also getting a lot of national attention, but it isn't positive. Responses call city officials unpatriotic.
"We've gotten calls from as far as Arizona, we've gotten emails from people in Massachusetts and Utah," says Albany City Commissioner Christopher Pike. "The people who are enforcing the rules are by no means unpatriotic and have probably served the country more than most people commenting on this story, so to say that we're unpatriotic, at best, is a distortion of the truth."
City officials say they want to clarify that having Gieyric's flag where it is now on the curb is not an American Flag issue or a sign ordinance issue. Pike says it is state law that any private property cannot be in a right of way.
"There's nothing in the city ordinance of the city of Albany that includes someone from flying an American flag on their property. The fact of the matter is you have your private property on the right of way which could cause an accident and so it doesn't even have anything to do with the sign ordinance," says Pike.
Gieyric says a city official did stop by his Dawson Road business on Friday to ask him to move the flag pole back a foot from where it was.
"We went out there and moved the flag one foot closer to my building at the edge of my curb and that's it; that's as far as I'm moving it," Gieyric says. "By their ordinance they consider the United States flag a sign. It's not a sign by definition it's not a sign it's a symbol, so number one it shouldn't even pertain to any of them."
Gieyric says he's planning on keeping his flag out by the street unless he receives daily citations.
"Then I'm going to have to find another place to do it, but it's always going to fly," he says.
Code enforcement says Gieyric received one citation regarding the placement of his flag but it was reduced to a warning hours later.