Flap Over Oversized Flag Pits Las Vegas Auto Dealer Against City

A flap over an outsized American flag on an oversize pole has city officials and an auto dealership dueling over patriotism, advertising and neighborhood peace.

A Las Vegas spokesman said Wednesday the city had received more
than 100 e-mail messages since the City Council last week ordered
Towbin Hummer to take down its 100-foot flagpole within 60 days. Most disagree with the council's decision.

Mayor Oscar Goodman blamed the dealership several miles west of the Las Vegas Strip for not keeping a promise to build a small veterans memorial along with the tall pole.

"Get us a memorial, and then we can talk about a flag in excess of 40 feet," Goodman said, summarizing the city's position. The mayor last year endorsed letting the dealership exceed the city's 40-foot flagpole height restriction.

The Towbin Hummer flag isn't the biggest in town. The Terrible Herbst gasoline and convenience store chain has several American flags around the city measuring 30 feet by 50 feet on poles 100 feet tall, said Jim Smith, a purchasing agent.

Dealership owner Dan Towbin said his big flag, which at 30 feet by 60 feet is about the size of a competition volleyball court, fits his dealership.

"The building's oversized, the sign's oversized, the cars are oversized," he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a Wednesday
report. "A 40-foot flag would not turn anybody's head to the flag."

A Towbin aide said Wednesday that a concrete pedestal was being
erected at the base of the flag for a plaque to honor veterans.

City spokesman Jace Radke said the issue could be brought back to the City Council on June 6.

Gary Swanciger, a resident who said the flapping of the big flag wakes him at night, said he thought the super-sized Stars and Stripes was designed more to attract customers than build patriotism.

Conita Jones, a neighbor and Vietnam veteran, said neighbors don't hate the flag, just its placement. She noted also that residents and auto dealers in the area have sometimes feuded about test drives on neighborhood streets.

"He's a great businessman. You have to admire that," Jones said of Towbin. "But it's at the expense of the neighborhood."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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