The ever-escalating issue of the Gadsden Flag in New Rochelle intensified today with Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman, Ken Jenkins, and Journal News featured columnist, Phil Reisman chastising the New Rochelle City Council led by Mayor Noam Bramson.
As most everyone knows, this issue became national news after the New Rochelle City Council voted to override City Manager Chuck Strome’s decision to allow the Gadsden Flag to fly beneath the American Flag (Old Glory) in front of the New Rochelle Armory, a Naval Militia Armory. After its removal, the City confiscated the flag from Veterans who had folded the flag appropriately.
Jenkins, on his weekly WVOX radio spot, said this was worse than a rookie mistake on the part of the New Rochelle City Council while Riesman states, “That flag [Gadsden Flag] should be embraced by everyone.”
As a former co-chairman of the Save Our Armory Committee it is clear that this was a political move on the part of Bramson to enhance his chances to attain the democratic nomination to run against County Executive, Rob Astorino, in November. Unfortunately for Bramson, he has alienated the Westchester Veterans according to Jenkins.
The key player in this issue is Councilman Jared Rice who proclaims himself the initiator of council concern. I believe I was “the first person to contact the city manager with respect to this flag” Rice stated at the April 9, council meeting. It is my understanding that Rice is upset with the blowback he is receiving. Rice is a rookie who is learning a valuable life-lesson. If you don’t want to be a target, don’t put a bull’s-eye on your back. The best way to deal with this now is to let it play itself out. A lesson learned by Bramson who was silent during the council debate of the flag and actually permitted Rice to repeatedly interrupt Councilman Albert Tarantino who stated his fellow councilmembers made “a lot to do about nothing” and stated the issue “is now taking on a life of its own.”
The timeline is clear:
Veterans retire Old Glory and raise a new flag with the Gadsden Flag
City manager informs the Veterans that the Gadsden Flag will be removed
Veterans educate the city manager as to the Gadsden Flag history
City Manager decides to allow the Gadsden Flag to remain
An illegal phone vote by city council overrides city manager’s decision
City workers remove and confiscate the folded flag from Veterans
City council formally votes to remove the Gadsden Flag
National firestorm begins
There are multiple flies in the ointment presented by city council. First and foremost are all of the absurd parallels between the Gadsden Flag and, get ready for the illogical, the Rainbow Coalition and Confederate (Stars & Bars) flags among others. When Veterans noted that many Americans died under the Gadsden Flag, and still do today, one member of council commented that many Americans died under the Confederate Flag, should we allow that flag to fly too? Another fly stuck in the ointment is the fact that Bramson led protests, while attending Harvard, against the ROTC program. Bramson is on record stating that everyone has a right to their opinion and a right to achieve their dream while actively acting to deny fellow students the right to follow their chosen dream of a military career.
The height of hypocrisy is attained when Mayor Bramson, councilmembers Rice, Fertel, Hyden and City Manager Strome all auspiciously participated in the 2012 Memorial Day Parade and daylong celebration at Hudson Park with the Gadsden Flag prominently displayed.
It took Councilmember Rice a year to develop his belief that the Gadsden Flag is offensive and for other councilmembers to label the Gadsden Flag a “Tea Party Flag.”
It is obvious that this was politically motivated and it backfired in the worst possible way. Kudos to councilmembers Albert Tarantino for putting the issue in prospective and Lou Trangucci for making a motion to allow council “to make a right out of a wrong” but unfortunately those suggestions fell on politically deaf ears. I will close with a quote from Phil Reisman which I believe sums it up, “That [Gadsden] Flag should be embraced by everyone. Don’t tread on me? Make that, don’t tread on us. Damn right.”