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Businessman to fight back over Chino flag flap

May 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A business owner in Chino is at odds with his city over the U.S. flags flying outside his shops. The city says many of them have to come down. The business owner plans to fight the city ordinance.Nicholas Randazzo has operated businesses in the city of Chino for 15 years. He's a veteran of the Vietnam War and very patriotic. And he was upset Friday morning when he received a letter from the city of Chino saying some of the flags around his business would have to come down.

"They're calling them 'swooper' flags," said Randazzo. "I refer to them as 'feather flags' and like I told them, they have 50 stars on them and 13 stripes. I would consider that an American flag."

This is not just a question about what shape an American flag must be to be proper and respected. Swooper flags were designed and sold for advertising and they were outlawed in Chino years ago.

"Swooper flags have been prohibited by the city code since 1997, so it's been well over 10 years," said Michelle Van Der Linden, spokesperson for the city of Chino.

The swooper poles outside Randazzo's businesses once carried advertising. Two Army and Navy signs remain.

When he was made aware of the ordinance, the signs came down and three weeks ago he replaced them with the Stars and Stripes. There was an objection from a citizen and code enforcement became involved.

"At this point he's been issued a letter requesting him to take down the flags," said Van Der Linden. "At that point we would hope that he would comply. He's given a period of time in which he can comply and if he elects not to, at that point citations are issued, and I believe the first value is at $75, would be his first fine," said Van Der Linden.

What's next?

"I guess I'm going to leave them up," said Randazzo. "The city says they're going to fine me for it but we'll have to see how it goes."