Southwood HOA Caves on Flag Mailboxes, Bass Mailboxes Coming Soon

by | Aug 8, 2017

In a campaign reminiscent of Rambo: First Blood, a Tallahassee military vet successfully waged his own private media war against the neighborhood rule-Nazis who run Tallahassee’s Southwood homeowners association. At least, that’s the way the story was being presented on Fox News with “PATRIOTISM UNDER FIRE” in bold letters across the screen. Oh, and in the Washington Post.

Many of Florida’s political class live in Southwood: lobbyists, legislative and state agency staffers, political consultants, and lawyers, so most are well versed in the art of media warfare. They should have known better than to let some crusty old vet wrap himself in Old Glory and gain the upper hand. 

But the fact is,  yesterday Southwood HOA capitulated, agreed to change the rules, and proved that either the HOA was wholly unprepared for a media war, or they don’t understand the dangers of the dreaded mailbox slippery slope.

Where will Southwood’s decline into gauche lawn decor end?

Apparently military vets (like me) can just wrap ourselves in the American flag and get away with breaking any rules we want. 

What’s next for Southwood? What if another military veteran decides he’s going to install a bass mailbox? Does that cross the line? What if the veteran really loves fishing?  What if he paints the little red flag into an American flag instead?

What’s wrong with the Southwood HOA that, not only did they cave to a military vet on a flag mailbox, but they would deny another military veteran (who loves fishing!) the right to install a bass mailbox – especially one with a tiny American flag?

Maybe they’ll change the rules to allow that too. After all, Southwood’s HOA isn’t really run by Nazis. And they’ve shown they aren’t really committed to maintaining standards. 

It won’t be long and Southwood will look like your average central Florida retirement trailer park. Good luck on the resale value of your homes, Southwood suckers. Glad I don’t live there. 
Homeowners association (HOA) rules are in place because people want to protect their neighborhood, and have all agreed to adopt a specific set of standards governing what is acceptable decor and what is not. 

Personally, I don’t care for HOA’s, and I live far from Southwood, so I have no dog in this fight. But if I lived in a place that had such rules in place, the HOA better enforce them, otherwise there’s no point in paying HOA fees in the first place.

Apparently our Southwood military veteran’s main problem was that he didn’t like the way he was asked to remove the flag from his mailbox, so he took to the media to get his way, and made absolutely certain every single reporter he spoke with new he was a military vet of 30 years:

He understands why the HOA would want to keep things uniform, “but I guess it’s the pettiness of it that bothers me,” he said.

Ackert said he and his neighbors occasionally have conflicts: a car stereo that’s too loud, or children who trample manicured grass. But they typically settle problems with a polite conversation and a handshake — not with a threatening form letter drafted by a lawyer.

Military vet or not, we gotta draw the line somewhere. Rules are rules, and this guy agreed to them when he bought the house. No amount of flag wrapping and patriotic shaming can excuse behavior that clearly violates agreed-upon rules. 

Southwood caved on this issue when they shouldn’t have. And if the HOA can’t expect a military vet of 30 years to follow the rules, how can Southwood hold anyone else accountable?



  1. Joe West

    Ok, maybe this is a slippery slope, I’m not a 30 year Military Veteran but I do see some difference in an American flag and Billy Bass. If you don’t see the difference I have some real questions about just what your a Veteran of?
    I also see some difference in enforcing a rule……sometimes.
    While I would admit Billy Bass may draw some disapproving looks in the neighborhood and may even discourage a sale or two, it’s hard for me to imagine that an American flag would lower anyone’s property value, but I guess that would depend on what flag you owe allegiance to.
    If reports are true and that flag was on that mailbox for 4 years I would have to ask why this suddenly became a problem, your inference that this man was intentionally violating rules is somewhat absurd.
    I live in a Sub-division and I’ve yet to read all of the restrictive covenants for my neighborhood. I don’t know many people who do read all of those rules…except for lawyers, politicians, lobbyists and those looking for loopholes.

    • a different Joe West

      On my web site I track news and articles about condominium and homeowner associations. I’m also a veteran. Over the 15 years that I’ve run the site I’ve seen numerous people use the veteran card to get away with something that was against their associations rules. ( I always thought it was a way to bully an unpaid volunteer board. In this case, it really was, as the media blasted them. He called the board “bullies” and then uses the media to embarrass and humiliate his neighbors, which is the very definition of “bully”. What is ironic is that if he actually served on the board, he would be required to enforce the documents, even against himself. If he didn’t he would be in violation of his duties. So he attacked those who were doing their duty, not very nice for a veteran.
      It’s also interesting that if he had pulled this while he was still in the military – violating the rules – he’d be facing punishment, with no media to help him.
      The board tried to handle it properly, notifying him of the problem, and giving him a chance to appeal the issue. He didn’t wait for that but went right to the media. Since when does the military go outside of the chain of command???
      Many of the stories I’ve posted have dwelt with the American flag, but they were pretty much about the location or size, not the right to fly them. That’s guaranteed by Federal law, but the association does have some say about where and when. Apparently veterans can only be patriotic if the flag is on a pole in the front yard or on a mailbox??? Often the problem here is that the person wants to fly the flag outside of their unit in a condominium. Unfortunately, in a condo, the individual does not own the exterior of their unit or the grounds around it so they can’t and shouldn’t put anything there without the association’s permission.
      To the other Joe West -The fact that you haven’t even bothered to read the documents you agreed to abide by points out one of the major the problems associations face. I would hope more people and veterans would honor the promise they made to abide by the rules when they signed the closing papers, but apparently that is often only when it doesn’t inconvenience them.
      You don’t like a rule, get it changed by a vote of your neighbors, that’s how a democracy is supposed to work.

%d bloggers like this: