Law: Only Village Board Can
Say What Community Thinks
Editor’s Note: Here is the text of the flag policy approved by the Cooperstown village trustees on Aug. 26, when the decision to fly the Pride Flag from the flagpole at Main and Pioneer was also affirmed. Village Attorney Martin Tillapaugh advised the trustees can approve flying any flag they wish; but if they then reject a request to say, fly the Stars & Bars, that decision would not be defensible in New York State courts.
►Section 1: The Village of Cooperstown hereby finds, determines and declares as follows:
A. On July 22, 2019, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Cooperstown directed that the Pride, or Rainbow, Flag be displayed on the flagpole at Pioneer and Main Streets annually throughout the month of June to commemorate LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
B. It is desirable that a flag policy regarding the display of commemorative flags be incorporated with a general policy regarding the ongoing display of federal and state flags, as well as the POW-MIA Flag, at Village facilities, including provisions for displaying flags at half-staff.
C. The Village’s flagpoles are not intended to serve as a forum for free expression by the public, but rather for the display of federal and state flags, the POW-MIA flag, and any commemorative flag as may be authorized by the Board of Trustees as an expression of the Village’s official sentiments.
►Section 2: Purpose.
This policy provides procedural guidance for (1) the display of the Flag of the United States and the State of New York flag; (2) the display of the POW-MIA flag; and (3) the display of commemorative flags at Village facilities.
►Section 3: Responsibility for Policy.
The Village Administrator or his or her designee shall be responsible for ensuring the proper execution of this policy at all Village facilities.
►Section 4: Procedures.
Flags are to be displayed in conformance with Federal and State statutes, including Title 4 Chapter 1 of the United States Code. Additionally, the standards below shall be followed regarding the display of flags.
►Section 5: POW-MIA Flag.
(a) The POW-MIA Flag is a nationally recognized flag, created in 1971 and recognized by an act of Congress through the adoption of U.S. Public Law 101-355, to represent concern of individuals who are identified as prisoners of war or missing in action. The POW-MIA Flag has become a symbol of commitment to achieving the fullest possible accounting for those in the future who may become prisoners of war, missing in action, or otherwise unaccounted for as a result of hostile action.
(b) The POW-MIA flag shall be displayed on the flagpole at Main and Pioneer Streets during the month of November.
►Section 6: Commemorative Flags.
(a) Commemorative flags may be displayed as an expression of the Village’s official sentiments. Consistent with the Village’s vision, mission and guiding principles, it is expected that
these flags incorporate themes
of diversity, equity, social justice and inclusion.
(b) The Village’s flagpoles are not intended to serve as a forum for free expression by the public. The Village will not display a commemorative flag based on a request from a third party, nor will the Village
use its flagpoles to sponsor the expression of a third party.
(c) Commemorative flags shall be displayed only by adoption of a resolution of the Board of Trustees.
(d) Commemorative flags shall not show religious preference or encourage a specific vote in a particular election.
(e) Commemorative flags shall be displayed for a period of time that is reasonable or customary for the subject that is to be commemorated, but no longer than 45 continuous days.
(f) Commemorative flags may be displayed on the flagpole at Main and Pioneer Streets and/or at other Village facilities as designated by the Board of Trustees.
(g) A commemorative flag may be donated by a third party after adoption of a resolution by the Board of Trustees for its display.
►Section 7: Flying Flags at Half-Staff.
(a) The Flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff in response to Presidential orders or proclamations, and instructions from the New York State Governor.
(b) When the Flag of the United States is flown at half-staff, other flags hung on the same flagpole may be relocated or removed from Village facilities in order to ensure public safety and to conform with Federal and State statues.