Decision to Revisit Pride Flag, Non-Gov Flag Placement at Official Flag Poles at Arlington Heights Village Hall Nixed

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Three government flags at Arlington Heights Village Hall.
Three government flags at Arlington Heights Village Hall — US flag (center), State of Illinois flag (left), Village of Arlington Heights flag (right) at John G. Wood Municipal Campus.

Miel Johnson, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Buffalo Grove asked the Arlington Heights Village Board, Monday night, May 16, 2022 to reconsider the 2021 proposal of Trustee Nicolle Grasse that recommended the Village of Arlington Heights fly flags recognized and flown by the federal government and state governments in the United States, which would include the flying of the Pride flag (rainbow flag) at the official village hall flag poles. The Pride flag was the focus of the debate in July 2021 when speakers before the village board wore pins or wore colors of the rainbow flag.




Johnson’s request was nixed by the majority of the Village Board (5-4). Mayor Thomas Hayes said there was insufficient support among board members to reconsider the ordinance on the permissible flags at the official flag poles at the corner of Sigwalt Street and Arlington Heights Road. Following Johnson’s statement before the board, Trustee Nicole Grasse on Monday night asked whether other board members were agreeable to revisiting the discussion again — especially since Trustee Tom Schwingbeck was not present for the original vote in July 2021. Grasse, who had previously brought up the revisiting of the flag issue at a February 2022 board meeting, said she continues to hear from people in the community wanting the board to revisit the conversation.

At Monday night’s village board meeting on the eve of LGBT Pride Month in June, Trustee Grasse claimed she had no idea there would be a comment about the “amendment to the flag” at the village board meeting — referring to the statement made by League of Women Voters Co-President Miel Johnson that requested the board reconsider Grasse’s flag ordinance amendment that limits the flag pole display to government flags and the POW/MIA flag on the official government flag poles. In early 2021, before the municipal elections on April 6, 2021, Trustee Nicole Grasse campaigned for Village Trustee as a member of the League of Women Voters, but Monday night she said she had no idea Co-President Miel Johnson was going to bring up the flag issue. On Monday night — whether the action was spontaneous or secretly calculated — Grasse was quick to make an attempt to take political advantage of the situation by shining the spotlight on fellow Trustee Thomas Schwingbeck.




When Grasse asked Hayes if we (actually) have insufficient support to revisit the conversation, Trustee Canty volunteered that she would be willing to have the conversation, and Hayes then called for a quick vote. Trustees Grasse, Canty, Baldino, and LaBedz voted to revisit the conversation, losing the vote when Mayor Hayes, and Trustees Tinaglia, Bertucci, Scaletta, and Schwingbeck did not vote to revisit the ordinance. Grasse responded to the vote, saying “now the community knows who wants to revisit that and who does not.”

Next, Trustee John Scalleta asked Grasse why she didn’t discuss the issue with Trustee Schwingbeck. Grasse then admitted that her purpose was to let the community know where Schwingbeck stood, and for the support of transparency to let the community know where all of their trustees stand on issues. Scaletta called out Grasse regarding her actions at the meeting, “it’s political.” Grasse then exclaimed, “Point of order, point of order … I just want to make mention that comments such as Trustee Scaletta just offered do not make for good government.”

“Now the community knows who wants to revisit that and who does not, and that’s a good thing for transparency.”

— Trustee Nicolle Grasse

What voters certainly know is that Trustee Schwingbeck didn’t want to revisit the issue. Voters still don’t know whether Schwingbeck was against Grasse’s proposal or not.

Miel Johnson, Co-President League of Women Voters Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Buffalo Grove (SOURCE: Village of Arlington Heights).
Miel Johnson, Co-President League of Women Voters Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Buffalo Grove in the spirit of inclusion, and on behalf of the League of Women Voters, urged the village board to reconsider Trustee Grasse’s proposal that would allow the Village of Arlington Heights to fly any flag that flies at the state capitol, but did not specifically mention the Pride flag (SOURCE: Village of Arlington Heights).

“We did discuss this thoroughly and carefully and fully.”

— Mayor Thomas Hayes

“The only constant in life is change and how we respond to it is part of what we do as a board.”

— Nicolle Grasse

Trustee Nicolle Grasse’s reaction to her proposal regarding the flag amendment failing for a second time at the May 16, 2022 Arlington Heights Board of Trustees Meeting. YouTube Tips ⓘ

Going back to the resolved flag issue from about 10 months ago, there were two voting sessions on July 6, 2021. The first voting session involved whether to approve Grasse’s proposal. The second voting session was the formality of putting the flag ordinance into effect (with or without Grasse’s proposal).

Grasse’s proposal failed with a 4-4 tie vote. Trustees that voted to support Grasse’s proposal on July 6, 2021 to amend the ordinance were Rich Baldino, Mary Beth Canty, Robin LaBedz, and Nicolle Grasse. Mayor Tom Hayes and Trustee Jim Tinaglia, Trustee John Scaletta and Trustee Jim Bertucci voted against Grasse’s proposal. Trustee Tom Schwingbeck, who proposed the village board’s June Pride Month proclamation in May 2021, did not vote on the flag ordinance because he was absent from the meeting Tuesday night, July 6, 2021.

Next, with a vote of 5-3, the Village Board of Arlington Heights on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 approved new, written rules restricting permission to four flags that can be flown on property owned, leased or controlled by village government. The official flags of the United States of America, the State of Illinois, the Village of Arlington Heights, and the National League of Families POW/MIA flag were approved in the new ordinance. In July 2021, Trustee Mary Beth Canty accused the board of drawing the ordinance in a direct response to prohibit the Pride flag.

MAY 16, 2022 VOTE SUMMARY
Vote to Revisit Flag Ordinance FAILED

Yes Revisit Flag Issue Votes (4)
Rich Baldino
Mary Beth Canty
Robin LaBedz
Nicolle Grasse

No, Don’t Revisit Flag Issue Votes (5)
Mayor Tom Hayes
Trustee Jim Tinaglia
Trustee John Scaletta
Trustee Jim Bertucci
Trustee Tom Schwingbeck

July 6, 2021 VOTE SUMMARY
Motion to Amend Ordinance FAILED

Yes Amend Votes (4)
Rich Baldino
Mary Beth Canty
Robin LaBedz
Nicolle Grasse

No, Don’t Amend Votes (4)
Mayor Tom Hayes
Trustee Jim Tinaglia
Trustee John Scaletta
Trustee Jim Bertucci

Absent
Trustee Tom Schwingbeck

Vote for New Ordinance APPROVED that limits flag display to the United States of America, the State of Illinois, the Village of Arlington Heights, and the National League of Families POW/MIA flag

Yes (5)
Mayor Tom Hayes
Trustee Jim Tinaglia
Trustee John Scaletta
Trustee Jim Bertucci
Trustee Rich Baldino

No (3)
Trustee Nicolle Grasse
Trustee Mary Beth Canty
Trustee Robin LaBedz

Absent
Trustee Tom Schwingbeck

Some village board trustees in 2021 suggested the Pride flag could possibly be flown at other locations in the village of Arlington Heights. Such a proposal is scheduled to be discussed at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library Board of Library Trustees Committee of the Whole meeting — the monthly third Tuesday meeting — at 7:00 p.m. (May 17, 2022). The agenda includes an item for flag display on library property. The Arlington Heights Memorial Library currently has one flag pole on Dunton Avenue north of the main entrance at 500 North Dunton Avenue. The library flag pole normally flies the US flag above the State of Illinois flag.

 RELATED NEWS … 

CARDINAL NEWS | Trustee Canty Personifies ‘Once Biased’ US Flag, Says Pride Month Proclamation Decision ‘Was Hard to Be Part Of’ Before Board Approved Flag Restrictions




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