City apologizes for warning over patriotic flags
by John Roach
June 29, 2012 01:42 AM | 5246 views | 25 25 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo special to the MDJ
Photo special to the MDJ
slideshow
Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q moved the POW-MIA flag inside and hung it next to a citation after management was told to take it down from a flagpole. <br> Photo special to the MDJ
Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q moved the POW-MIA flag inside and hung it next to a citation after management was told to take it down from a flagpole.
Photo special to the MDJ
slideshow

MARIETTA — After an uproar erupted on social media, the city of Marietta has apologized to a Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q manager and told her the restaurant is welcome to fly flags expressing support for the military — just in time for the July 4 holiday.

Before the Roswell Road restaurant opened Wednesday morning, a code enforcement officer cited the eatery for flying non-governmental flags and said they must be taken down within 48 hours, General Manager Michelle Jehlen said.

The two flags in question were one bearing a POW-MIA logo and another with the insignias of America’s armed forces above the motto “We Support Our Troops”

“So we did take them down — we didn’t want the fine,” Jehlen said.

But because the flags have been flying in front of the restaurant every day for years and managers didn’t want customers to think they had taken them down just ahead of the July 4 holiday without good reason, they posted the citation on their Twitter and Facebook pages.

And that got everybody’s attention.

“It just blew up,” Jehlen said. “It went crazy.”

Video below is courtesy of our news partner Fox 5 Atlanta

News of the incident spread across the Internet, and patrons who asked where the flags had gone were shown where they were on display inside the restaurant — with the city’s warning hanging firmly between them.

“All the customers asked us last night and this morning (why the flags were down),” Jehlen said Thursday.

On Thursday morning, Brian Binzer, Marietta’s director of development services, went to the restaurant and apologized, telling Jehlen she was welcome to fly the two flags.

Binzer told the Journal that the code inspector who issued the warning couldn’t read the flags because the wind was not blowing at the time and had assumed they were advertisements for the business.

It is not city policy to cite a business for unauthorized flags without seeing the flags themselves, he said.

“Code inspectors customarily do not issue warnings based on assumptions and we are in the process of reviewing this matter internally,” Binzer said. “Part of this process is to see if procedures were followed or not and how we can improve the process to prevent a similar incident from happening again.”

Binzer would not reveal the identity of the code inspector.

Jehlen said the flag flap couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“It’s our busiest week of the year. It’s horrible timing on their part,” she said. “We’ve always supported the troops. (Restaurant founders) Danny and Larry Williamson support the community as a whole, but absolutely the military. So for anyone to ask us to take them down seems absurd.”

Flags have had a rough time in Marietta in recent years. In 2007, the city made national headlines when then-mayor Bill Dunaway initially told local members of Veterans of Foreign Wars that they could not hand out miniature flags during the city’s annual Fourth of July parade, citing a policy stating “Absolutely no distribution/throwing of candy or other materials during the parade — this is a safety issue and will be strictly enforced.”

Dunaway relented the weekend before the parade, saying no veterans would be arrested for handing out American flags.

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - News, Sports, Classifieds, Businesses in Marietta, GA

Comments
(25)
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MIke Powder Springs
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June 30, 2012
Sorry people, the code enforcement officer's job is to issue the citation. He cannot show favoritism or interprest the law on his own. It is his boss's job to decide if the flags can be granted an exception. If it is a bad law, that is up to the city code office to resolve, not the enforcement officer.
namtah
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June 29, 2012
Man. How can I get some of that code enforcement action in my neighborhood?
Ken Lamb
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June 29, 2012
I guess the inspector did not look at the flags to see what they said when they were taken down, or else they did not care.
SG68
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June 29, 2012
Dumb first move by the inspector.

Good recovery by Binzer and the city.

It's anybody's guess as to why the inspector would do something like that. Maybe going by the "letter of the law" instead of using their own good judgement.

I am pretty sure it was all a big misunderstanding, but inspectors can get carried away sometimes.
itstime
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June 29, 2012
Good recovery? Is this some kind of game the City is playing? If this inspector - and his boss Binzer - worked in the private sector, they would be long gone. A big misunderstanding this is not. Small mistakes happen, premeditated mistakes and cover ups are not excused. It appears to me that Binzer knew about the citation before it happened and proceeded, assuming Wilkinson's would not make any waves. Thusly the cover up and non release of the inspector's name. If there is a left wing agenda at City Hall, we should know.
SG68
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July 02, 2012
@ itstime

If what you are saying is true and it is a pattern of behavior then I agree with you.
dmkochatl
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June 29, 2012
petty bureaucrat...
anonymous
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June 29, 2012
The citizens of this city should not overlook the code enforcement's stupid, bone headed decision to jump without thinking against a landmark BBQ establishment. The "tool" that found a flag he "thought" was illegial, where were his chain of commang supervisors? Do "twerps" get to make decisions all alone? Are "twerps" ruling the city enforcements?

If you are at Williamson BBQ any day of the week, you see scores of men/women with military uniforms eating at this BBQ and been that way for years and years!! I don't see how anyone with a brain could miss that fact. Beside, how much more "government" can you get than a POW Flag and Flag with four branches of our military(department of defense government). What's next City of Marietta? Forbid the military members from walking down the city streets??!! Marietta, a city with a LONG LONG LONG Military heritage, Military National cemetary, Lockheed, Dobbins, Naval Air station, Army and Air National Guard headquarters for the State of Georgia. Marietta would be a small town if not for the MILITARY!

Oh great, chaos rule
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June 29, 2012
So, let me understand, all you law-abiding folks who espoused the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution that you supposedly support with every fiber of yourselves (when this helped GW take the White House) will have no problem with equal protection when some other business or civic organization decides to fly a flag that shows support for:

-Greenpeace?

-ACLU?

-Planned Parenthood?

-United Nations?

-LGBT ?

So, will you? Point here being that selective enforcement is NOT a victory for the rule of law (as seems to be the main point of this article). Change the law, don't rely on the taste or judgment of civil servants (and then threaten to fire them) to selectively enforce the standing law in accordance with the opinions of those with the loudest voices...oh, and while you're at it, change the law so it is also in accordance with the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Mac Truck
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June 29, 2012
@Oh great,chaos rule

You fail to mention one important fact in your leftist rant. Not a one of the far left organizations you mention would be allowed to exist, much less fly a flag, if it were not for the men and women of the U.S. military who make that freedom possible. Try flying your left wing flags in an Arab country. Liberal progressives are always funny and never tell the truth. Are you one of Foley's nyms?
Holy Cow!
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June 29, 2012
The more important story here is that Marietta city residents are paying taxes to employ someone to drive around and inspect flags. Is this really a good use of your tax dollars? This inspector position should be abolished.
Tex G
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June 29, 2012
Sure they are. This is the tip of the iceberg.

This is micromanagement and a revenue enhancement plan. Just nitpick honest patriotic citizens to death and lay on compound taxes in the form of non compliance fees and fines. Of course they have to write even more to pay for the headcount in this jobs program.

This is another example of Obama and the DemoKommies America. Massive federal regulation and denial of rights.

I mean we can't have Muslims, Atheists and America Haters offended by that corny old US flag now can we?

Sell outs.
southernbychoice
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June 29, 2012
Guess it is more important to find someone flying a flag they consider inappropriate rather than giving citations to 20 people living in a single family home with cars lined up on the streets essentially making the streets one lane and parked in yards. Good to see what the priority is with Marietta. And I totally agree with westcobber4 - these people ride around in their "official" cars, exceeding the speed limit most of the time, and we are paying for it
Thunderous Anger
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June 29, 2012
Someone needs to fall on their sword over this.

Wonder who?
W.B.Dunaway
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June 29, 2012
Mr. Roach, I assume that you want accuracy in your articles.

I did not "tell" anyone anything. This totally avoidable miss-understanding was the result of bad reporting in an AJC story concerning a city employee. It was then compounded by an inaccurate article by Marcus Howard. The matter was easily resolved in several meetings that Police Chef Dan Flynn and I had with the VFW.

As a matter of fact, this Fourth,I will again be helping the Lions Club in handing out thousands of

American Flags...as I have done for the past two years. I did help start the first modern day Marietta Fourth Celebration in 1969.

In the future,I do invite you to call me personally before you write about anything that happened while I was the Marietta Mayor.

William B. Dunaway
MAY-RETTA SURVIVOR
|
June 29, 2012
As always, our former Mayor Dunaway aka "Major Dumway" only surfaces to complain about something.

Bill, please just do all of us a favor and just go away...quietly.
Havana
|
June 29, 2012
GET 'EM DUNAWAY!
Since You Asked
|
June 29, 2012
@havana: The ONLY, repeat ONLY, thing our former mayor was worthy to "get" from Marietta was The Boot. To which I say; GOOD & GOOD RIDDANCE!
idontloveit
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June 29, 2012
Don't listen Mr. Roach. Dunaway wants accuracy, but can't copy edit his comments (ie: Police chef Dan Flynn)
Square Bug
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June 29, 2012
Typical Marietta stupidity! Just a normal day to day occurrence in our city. We like to make the headline news.
westcobber4
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June 29, 2012
The job qualification for a Code inspector is already a requirement that you are a small minded, insecure ignorant little person that takes the job so they can for the first time in their worthless lives have power over people they could never better in any field....

Now we can add LYING to the description !!

Binzer stated the inspector could not see the flags because of no wind

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Anyone believe that lie??

He and the inspector they will not name should be fired for lying to the public.

As for not releasing the name...Hey bozos you work for us we are entitled to your name any time we want it so we can fire you
Disgusted withit
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June 29, 2012
Or could not read because he can't read. I am ashamed and embarrassed of my Marietta heritage.
Tex G
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June 29, 2012
What is wrong with this country? This is the third story this week nationwide on this issue.

I guess commie politicians and government criminals want to forget the people they will ultimately have to fight for our freedoms.

Our government is a corrupt criminal enterprise.
anonymous
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June 29, 2012
Wow. I am pleased to see a government entity actually taking responsibility for their dumb mistakes. They could have just dug their heels in like the government mindset says do, and made Williamson brothers fight their way out of the bag.

I have to give the city of Marietta credit. Good job.
Grateful Civi
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June 29, 2012
I agree. "We messeed up" goes a long way in my book.

I think the city should have to buy everyone Williamson Bros. BBQ for the fourth...
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