MSNBC Hardball: New Rochelle Gadsden Flag Controversy

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MSNBC Hardball: New Rochelle Gadsden Flag Controversy

August 08, 2013 - 23:42

Michael Smerconish hosts MSNBC Hardball.

Moises Valencia of the New Rochelle Save Our Armory Committee and Peter Applebome of the New York Times discussed a controversy over a Gadsden Flag in New Rochelle, NY. Local veterans have sued in federal court. Applebome wrote a major article about the controversy.

New York Times: Veterans Group, Flying a Flag With a Message, Ruffles a City

There are 12 Comments

Let's be clear--this flag bothered one person and one person only--Noam Bramson. Seems a bit ironic that he would take the Tea Party endorsement in his bid for CE.

While I support the veterans right to fly the Gadsden Flag, and that it is historically appropriate for this type of armory, Mr. Valencia did indicate he was trying to send a message to Mayor Bramson. That seems to make the intention more political than patriotic.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion in this matter. If you would do your homework and study the mayor's past actions towards the veterans and the armory, you would come to the conclusion that the mayor's intention was purely political.

I have always found Mr. Valencia to be honest and respectful when addressing the mayor. I wish I could say the same about Noam.

Thanks Laraine!

Whats wrong with letting our Mayor know that we are upset with the disrespect he has shown the armory and the veterans that have been trying to save it from his every attempt to destroy it? (like he did Fort Slocum)

Whats wrong with saying "Hey! we the citizens of New Rochelle will not stand for business as usual anymore!"

My family and I supported the mayor in his early days in our city Government, as we learned more about what he had done to the armory and the general arrogance he has shown New Rochelleans of all political affiliations races and creeds, we could no longer support him.

(Over the last few months I have found that there are Dems, Reps, Ind etc... that feel this way.)

Basically anyone who has been paying attention and has been critical of the mayors decisions he makes supposedly on our behalf is told they are not smart enough to know what is best for them.

I could care less about political parties or movements, Conservative, Liberal or otherwise!

I'm just an American Citizen intent on doing right by my city, my veterans and my country. I felt hurt when I saw the condition of the Armory and the condition of the American flag that was flying valiantly in the late winter breeze.

My family and friends have gone to war for my right to stand up and say "hey this isn't right!"

Being fair would have been to acknowledge our grievances and work with us to solve them, not to slander everyone involved with the ceremony with false accusations as political cover for his unconstitutional actions.

(The Ceremony was approved beforehand by the city manager and included Boy and Girl Scouts, Elected Officials from the city and county, a former Democratic State Assemblyman, Veteran and citizens of all backgrounds)

To this day none of us have received an apology written or otherwise for the false Tea Party accusations even after President Obama said it was wrong to target people because they were part of the Tea Party.

They have totally dismissed veterans and community groups concerns over Echo Bay and have totally ignored the people's desire for a community center and memorial at the armory, instead opting to bring in other interest from out of town for a competition, when we could use this as a chance for our community to come together to restore something our forefathers built.

Mayor Bramson has no intention of being fair to the citizens and Veterans of New Rochelle. Instead of working with us he demonizes us, instead of acknowledging our ideas he belittles them.

Everything about the Gadsden Flag and the Armory fit, from its historical context, to the message the flag sent about the Armory itself.(Which he continues to tread upon today.)

Emperor Bramson could not stand that the plebs dare stand up for ourselves and our property (The Armory belongs to the whole of the people of New Rochelle).

If anyone had any concerns we could have talked it out and engaged in dialogue without having to resort to censorship, which is in itself against our most fundamental American values.

It could have been an opportunity to learn about our common history. New Rochelle has so much history tied to the founding of our nation and the principles the Gadsden flag represents. The Huguenots themselves came here for freedom from tyranny.

It is not being political to stand for what is right, its called being an AMERICAN. Even with all that has transpired. I would do it all over again and I have no regrets. I am extremely proud of m fellow citizens that stood with us on that fateful first day of spring till today.

Robert Cox's picture


I think you are conflating two issues here and causing confusion.

The parties to this case are the United Veterans and the City of New Rochelle. Moises is neither of those.

While Moises acquitted himself well on MSNBC, it does not matter what Moises Valencia thinks, says or does. He is a private citizen. He is not a member of the United Veterans and not a party in the federal lawsuit. His motivation for purchasing the flag or donating the flag is immaterial. So, while it is interesting to hear that he believes the Mayor has been disrespectful to veterans or effected the intentional blighting of the Armory is entirely beside the point as to why he presented the flag to the United Veterans at the ceremony.

What matters is what the United Veterans organization thought, said or did and what the City of New Rochelle thought, said or did.

The United Veterans have explained their rationale for flying the flag -- that it is an American flag, the "first" American flag, perfectly appropriate to the Armory, etc.

The City of New Rochelle have explained their rationale for removing the flag -- that the flag is a symbol of the Tea Party and thus inherently "divisive". Mayor Bramson went further, repeatedly asserting the knowingly false claim that Peter Parente is a member of the Tea Party.

It is one thing for Noam Bramson to say that the flag has been adopted by the Tea Party over the past 6 years. He might be able to make some sort of a case about that although I would debate that too as the whole point of the Tea Party is that it is not an organized party like the Republican or Democrat Party but rather a loosely connected, grassroots organization comprised of thousands of local "tea party" groups.

It is another thing entirely to say that the United Veterans or its President Peter Parente are actually MEMBERS of "the" Tea Party or "a" tea party group. I am not even aware that there IS a "tea party" group in New Rochelle.

So, Moises is free to have his opinions regarding the Mayor and free to be motivated by his thoughts and beliefs in purchasing a flag and donating a flag. That has nothing to do with what the United Veterans decision to accept the flag and raise it. There were no conditions attached to the donation of the flag by Moises, certainly none accepted and and absolutely no discussions at the moment the flag was offered, accepted and raised (I know, I was present when this occurred).

The issue before the FEDERAL court is whether the United Veterans acted within their rights as granted by a charter from the City of New Rochelle to maintain patriotic symbols in New Rochelle which has, for many years, included the flag pole at the Armory and whether by its past actions the City had actively refrained from interfering in the United Veterans fulfilling their duties and obligations under the charter granted to them by the City so as to set past precedent.

The issue before the STATE court will be whether the New Rochelle City Council held an illegal meeting by voting (over the phone or email or whatever it was) to "request" that the City Manager take down the flag.

This is a now a matter for a judge (or judges as there are 2 lawsuits).

Let's see if we can have a discussion about the facts of the matter, the actual lawsuits and the actual parties in the lawsuits and not side issues that are not relevant to the legal cases before the courts.

The Federal Court will determine that there is no free speech issue involved, regarding the hoisting of the Gadsden Flag by individuals or non-governmental organizations on the government-owned flagpole at the NR Armory.

The Federal Court will determine that the government of the City of New Rochelle is fully empowered constitutionally, to determine which flags are flown on the government-owned flagpole at the NR Armory and on any other flagpoles owned by the City of New Rochelle.

It is an absurd fantasy to believe otherwise, as the Federal Court is not about to empower the anti-government anarchy advocated by Peter Parente and Moises Valencia.

This clearly is a property rights issue, not a free speech issue.

The obvious motive for this folly is to create an illusionary strawman, by New Rochelle/Westchester Republican Committee, designed to benefit the floundering campaign of Rob Astorino, by falsely blaming Mayor Noam Bramson for the lawful decisions of New Rochelle’s Chief Executive Chuck Strome.

The reason Peter Parente is in the center of this false and manufactured controversy, is that he is a failed politician, desperate to reboot his political career after having been trounced in his campaign to be elected to the NR City Council. Mr Parente doesn’t realize that his own political beliefs appear foreign and strange to the vast majority of voters in New Rochelle and Westchester, and that he is further damaging his own political future, while also greatly damaging Rob Astorino’s campaign.

Moises Valencia, I believe by his own admission, is not politically sophisticated. Mr Valencia’s motives might be more pure than Mr Parente’s, and Valencia might actually believe what he is advocating, although he is naïve in thinking the obscure Gadsden Flag issue is about honoring Vets. If he was advocating the flying of the official flag of the USA Navy, the Naval Jack, he’d at least be advocating the official flag that Navy Vets of the USA have fought under.

Although Moises Valencia Jr says he is not politically motivated, he is a registered Republican. But in his defense as not having much interest in elections, Moises Valencia Jr, has been registered to vote since 2007, but did not vote in a General Elections in either 2007 or 2011, which is to say he hasn’t voted in a New Rochelle City Council Election.

Moises Valencia Sr, also registered as Republican has been registered to vote since 2004, and has also not voted in a NR City Council Election in the time since, and has only voted in 2004.

Moises Valencia Jr has written at TOTS and stated on MSNBC, that he and his family were former supporters of Noam Bramson. I’m unsure what he means by that, but there are four Valencia’s registered to vote at his address. Of those four voters, none of them has voted in a NR City Council Election, three are registered Republican and one person is registered as Non-Affiliated.

So I truly doubt that anyone in Moises Valencia’s family has been a supporter of Noam Bramson, and certainly has never supported Noam on any election day.


First your assertion that this is a manufactured controversy by anyone at that retiring of the colors ceremony meant to assist the Astorino campaign is utter nonsense, and is flat out wrong. Noam was not even the democratic candidate at the time of the ceremony and no one there that day could have anticipated what would happen.

Secondly there is not a Moises Valencia sr. or jr. My uncle who is a 20 year veteran of the US. Navy that has served in three wars under both the Gadsden and Naval Jack flags does not live in New Rochelle and has not for the last two decades. I was named after him but there is no Jr. or Sr. relation.

I did vote in the last general election and I crossed party lines and voted for Democrat Ivar Hyden. He knows it and I have not shied away from my decision to support Mr. Hyden. I did not vote in 2007 because I was not personally involved in New Rochelle politics at the time I was 20 years old and still in college.

I very accurately remember my mother and I marching in support of the Library several years back at the time when then Noam Bramson was running for council, we handed out his palm cards and had done so as well when he ran for mayor. Although I did not personally vote in that election we were in fact supporters, that is before we knew how Noam really was.

My family and I are registered Republican because we identify with many of the values of the Republican party but we will support anyone Republican or Democrat if they defend and uphold the constitution of the United States of America, and represents the interests of the people of this city and this nation.

The Gadsden flag is not an "obscure flag", it is the first flag of the continental marine corp and continental navy. My buddy in the Marines who is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan sent me a picture on March 31st of this year of the Gadsden Flag flying on his Marine Air Station in Cherry Point North Carolina. When I presented that Photo to Councilman Jared Rice he said "I wonder if that was taken prior to 2008" when I informed him that it was taken that very day he had nothing to say.

My other Marine buddy also veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan posted a picture on the SAVE the Armory FB page on April 25th of Navy corpsman currently deployed carrying out training operations with marine unit 2/2 weapons co. And combined anti-armor teams who were posing for the picture displaying both the Gadsden and American flags go see it for yourself.

Like I said before my uncle who's name I bear is a veteran of Desert Storm,Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan post 911), and Operation Iraqi Freedom, also recounted stories to me of him sailing under the Gadsden and Naval Jack Flags. When I asked him if it was both flags to make sure he was not confused he answered affirmatively.

I visited VFW post #7293 in Egypt Pennsylvania on March 31st at their Veterans Memorial which features an f-14 tomcat and flags for every branch of the military also displays the Gadsden Flag alongside them with equal prominence.

For you to say that it is some obscure flag is an insult to my friends who went to war, my uncle, to the veterans of New Rochelle and across America, and especially to those men that fought the revolutionary war under that banner and the troops who continue to fight under it today in the war on terror.

It is an example of the blatant deceptive revisionist history that you, Mayor Bramson and Councilman Rice have engaged in.

So Knowing that the flag was/has been flown by our vets in the marines and navy, knowing that it is used in veterans memorials all over the country, and having no political affiliation with the tea party / occupy wall street (which has used the flag) or any political movement how could I be doing anything other than honoring our veterans at an official flag retirement ceremony that I asked for because I was appalled that the city could not at least change the flag on the Armory after it was in tatters and show the respect that our flag deserves.

your ad hominen attacks on Mr. Parente also show your desperation to throw some mud in hopes that it might stick. Peter is a veteran who has served this country with honor and dignity. He is also a 9/11 first responder. As President of UVMPA-NR he continues to serve our city, whether it has been organizing memorial day or being the only one to maintain the armory even just a little bit over the years. He has never indicated any desire to continue a run for any elected office contrary to your false assertions.

I had never met him prior to my asking if we could replace the tattered stars and stripes with a new one, I had not been aware of his previous campaign, and we most certainly did not conspire among ourselves or with any other party to make this about anything other than Honoring New Rochelle's Veterans and the Armory.

Neither Peter nor I have EVER promoted "Anti-Government Anarchy". I am a proud American and defender of our constitutional republican form of government. Theodore Roosevelt said:

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."

Noam Bramson has failed in his duties both in inefficiency and by violating his oath of office. A Phone vote by council that is not open to the public, and that did not include 2 council members is illegal. City Manager Strome had made his official decision to let the flag fly saying the Veterans did not have any political intent. It was Bramson and the rest of the democrats that acted illegally in overruling the city managers decision without a public hearing or the votes of the entire council

You say that I am not "politically Sophisticated" and that is fine, it was never my intention to make this about politics, I am not a politician. It is your side that has made it about politics in order to justify, what is otherwise indefensible, unconstitutional and illegal actions.


The information that Brian Sussman uses in his "analysis" of your voting patterns is not easily available to the general public. Brian is able to access this information because he is a district leader within the New Rochelle Democrat Party.

Brian has given readers of TOTS the inside track on the Bramson strategy regarding the Gadsden flag. It is to label anyone associated with flag as an Astorino surrogate and thus politicize them in order to deflect attention from the issue. You can bet he will use the same strategy for those who are supporting a rebid of the Echo Bay development.

There is only one group who is playing politics on this one, it is the Noam Bramson campaign.

It's sickening how Bramson does business. He trashes his opponents to avoid issues, he tries to control the media and free speech of others, and he makes the decisions for the people of NR because he thinks he so much smarter than the rest of us. Still, despite all his games, there is more controversy surrounding his administration than there is Rob Astorino's.

It's sickening how Bramson does business. He trashes his opponents to avoid issues, he tries to control the media and free speech of others, and he makes the decisions for the people of NR because he thinks he so much smarter than the rest of us. Still, despite all his games, there is more controversy surrounding his administration than there is Rob Astorino's.


I figured as much, I tried to search for the information myself, mostly because I was surprised how inaccurate it was. I sure would like to know who this senior Moises Valencia is. There is only my uncle and I to my knowledge, he could not have voted in New Rochelle in 2004 as he was on tour at that time and I was not even old enough to vote. And as shocking as this may be to Brian, my family and I are more open minded than to only vote the party line. We support people based on their record, policies and how well they uphold their oaths. I am not the only one in my family that has at times voted for or supported a candidate of another party.

This is just another example of how they use false or inaccurate information to hoodwink the public, just like Bramson has done with Echo Bay and his record in New Rochelle.

Smearing people has been their tactic all along, here Brian failed at attempting to smear Peter and discredit me. All to distract from the real issue at hand, that Noam has been running roughshod over everyone in New Rochelle for years now, its not just the vets or the armory, it has reached its most blatant and public level when he told all of us at the echo bay FEIS hearings that heads don't count and only his perception of things matters.

To be clear, the city council, headed by Mayor Bramson, is the legislative branch of government. The city manager is charged with the day-to-day operations of the city as stated in the city charter. That said, the city council has exceeded their role by forcing the city manager to reverse his decision to allow the Gadsden Flag to fly. They held an illegal meeting & vote involving five city council members in defiance of the Open Meetings Law. To this day the city council has not passed any legislation in regards flags on city property so it remains part of the day-to-day decisions of the city manager.

The city manager serves at the pleasure of council so five votes could terminate his service and that's how this becomes political. Mayor Bramson manipulated the super-majority democratic control of council to force manager Strome to reverse his decision and confiscate the Gadsden Flag. These are facts that even Shill Sussman cannot refute, although I'm sure he will respond.