Councilor says town was wrong to offer flag request application

Town manager responds: ‘The most effective and efficient way to do that is through an application’

By Josh Bickford
Posted 2/26/21

As of last week, four people had filed applications to fly different flags on the town hall flagpole — one application was for the Autism Awareness flag; one for a “Freedom & …

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Councilor says town was wrong to offer flag request application

Town manager responds: ‘The most effective and efficient way to do that is through an application’

Posted

As of last week, four people had filed applications to fly different flags on the town hall flagpole — one application was for the Autism Awareness flag; one for a “Freedom & Prosperity” flag; one for the flag of Italy; and one application was to fly a flag stating “Respect The Flag Keep Politics Off The Pole.”

But if Barrington Town Council member Jacob Brier had his way, the town would not offer an application to request a flag to fly on the town hall flagpole.

Mr. Brier, a member of the Barrington Town Council who played a key role in drafting the town’s new flag ordinance, would not comment any further on the issue, but was clear in his opposition to offering an application.

Barrington Town Manager Jim Cunha does not agree.

“My job is to execute the ordinance. The most effective and efficient way to do that is through an application," Mr. Cunha said.

Mr. Cunha created the application after members of the town council voted 5-0 on Feb. 1 to approve the flag ordinance. That new ordinance gives the council and manager all the control over which flags can fly on the town hall flag pole. It states, in part, that members of the council or the town manager may submit resolutions for temporary flag-raisings that can be voted upon by the council, and that individuals or groups may request flags by working with a member of the town council or town manager.

Mr. Cunha said creating an application offered a clear avenue for people to request sponsorship from a council member or the manager himself.

“My job is to run the town. They set the ordinance, and I execute it,” Mr. Cunha said. “To me, this is a no-brainer.”

Mr. Cunha said the town’s attorney had already spoken with Mr. Brier and explained the situation, adding that the ordinance does not tell the manager how to execute it.

Other members of the town council said they did not see a problem with offering an application to people interested in flying a flag on the town hall flagpole.

“There is nothing that states if there is an official application or not; I encourage citizen input in all forms so I am happy to respond to formal requests,” said Barrington Town Council member Annelise Conway.

Councilor Carl Kustell added: “Jacob was the main author of the policy and I'd like to hear his views on it, but I do not see anything in the policy that would either preclude or require a written application.”

Mr. Cunha said the town has applications for dozens of things.

“It’s the way we do everything else,” he said. “If you want a have road race,” there’s an application.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.