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Elderly woman faces eviction for American flags


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PHILLIPSBURG, NJ (NBC) - A 75-year-old New Jersey woman faces the possibility of eviction for hanging three American flags from her balcony.

Main street Phillipsburg, NJ is adorned with that inalienable symbol of American patriotism.

The stars and stripes hang in front of the municipal building, on private homes and commercial businesses.

There's a big one outside the government run senior housing complex where Dawn Paulus lives, but it's the three little ones hanging from her sixth floor balcony that have stirred a huge controversy.

"They say I should be shipped off to the Russian gulag, that I'm anti-American," said Paul Rummerfield, Housing Authority Executive Director.

That's because the Housing Authority has ordered Paulus to take down the flags she attached to her balcony in early may or face eviction.

That was two weeks ago and the flags are still there.

"I understand that's their rules, but I'm still sticking to my Constitutional rights," Paulus said.

Paulus decorated her entire one bedroom apartment to mark the Memorial Day holiday, and says if she stuck the flags in her flowerpot, it wouldn't be the same.

The Housing Authority says it's not about old glory, it's about safety.

"Let's just say you let somebody have a flag and somebody puts a hanging basket up there that's filled with dirt that may weight five to 10 pounds and comes crashing down on someone. It has a potential to hurt, then it's we didn't do enough to protect people," Rummerfield said.

It's in the lease, paragraph 20, but Paulus says she wants a legal opinion before she waves the white flag.

"If the law says I have to, I will," she said.

Paulus has lived in this senior complex for four years now, she pays $423 a month and knows it's competitive and if they kick her out, it will be tough to get back in. But she says you can't put a price tag on freedom.

"Our veterans gave their lives for us and this is why it's supposed to be freedom. But for me, I don't know if this is freedom if I can't fly my flag," Paulus said.

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Posted

If it's in the lease, then she agreed to the terms when she signed. Legal opinion not required.

She's just an attention seeking old baggage.

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Posted

Without knowing the specific terms used in the lease, it is hard to say who is right. I've often seen very vague terms used in a lease that give the property owners broad powers to pick and choose what they want to say violates the lease. And some of these property owners will pull the "safety issue" card on just about anything. They shouldn't be playing "what if" but looking at the individual situation. Were HER flags a danger to anyone? If not, then leave her the hell alone and focus on people who actually DO present a genuine safety problem. What in the hell does a hanging basket filled with dirt have to do with a flag that might weigh a pound or two at most?

edit: here is the picture of the offending flags:

post-26908-0-11344100-1338987821.jpg

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Posted

Ambiguity benefits the party that did not draft the contract. So, if her lease does not explicitly state what you can and cannot have on your balcony, then I can see her getting away with it. However, I wouldn't be surprised if she isn't allowed to renew her lease when the current one is up if she continues to push the issue.

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Posted

Such small flags, and so much fuss about it :crazy:

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Posted

If one person hangs something, then another does, then where does it end? I think that's what they were getting at.

Also, it's not a constitutional right, and the majority of people who hang them off their houses don't treat them the way they're supposed to be treated ( does she keep them lit at night?), so... it's really no different than a pot of flowers.

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Posted

If one person hangs something, then another does, then where does it end? I think that's what they were getting at. Also, it's not a constitutional right, and the majority of people who hang them off their houses don't treat them the way they're supposed to be treated ( does she keep them lit at night?), so... it's really no different than a pot of flowers.

Oh, that's a load of BS and you know it. There is a HUGE difference between a 5-10 lb. pot of flowers and a half pound (if that) bracket with three tiny flags attached to it. Anyone with a shred of common sense would deem that this presents no safety issue at all.

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Posted

It's 100% certain that people will be injured by a car today, but no one bans those.

Gotta love the fear-mongering. :laugh:

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Posted

Oh, that's a load of BS and you know it. There is a HUGE difference between a 5-10 lb. pot of flowers and a half pound (if that) bracket with three tiny flags attached to it. Anyone with a shred of common sense would deem that this presents no safety issue at all.

My point was she hangs something, the guy next door sees it and says, "oh we can hang things" and then hangs a 10 pound bucket of flowers off a tack nail. This is not uncommon in leases, and has nothing to do with flags.

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My point was she hangs something, the guy next door sees it and says, "oh we can hang things" and then hangs a 10 pound bucket of flowers off a tack nail. This is not uncommon in leases, and has nothing to do with flags.

Oh, I'm quite familiar with vague items in leases. Unfortunately, common sense when drafting those clauses is rarely present. All it would take to correct problems like this would be to add weight limits and/or statements that anything attached to the balcony or railing must be securely attached so that it cannot fall. That is the type of wording that is used in the lease at the apartment I live in, so there is no reason that the same type of thing couldn't be applied there.

And that's why things like this should be taken on a case-by-case basis.

I've seen a "nothing may be attached to the balcony railing" clause used to ban people from locking their bike to the railing while the bike is inside the balcony! Utter stupidity.

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Posted

"They say I should be shipped off to the Russian gulag, that I'm anti-American," said Paul Rummerfield, Housing Authority Executive Director.

Yeah, pretty much.

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