Editorial: Fundraising is the right direction for flag reimbursement

American flags adorned San Benito Street as motorcycles ride through downtown July 5 for the Hollister Motorcycle Rally.

On several holidays throughout recent years, the local Boy Scouts have put out those American flags lining San Benito Street in downtown Hollister. It has been a gracious showing of community support and patriotism. It has taught those Scouts the value of service and added another reminder for others to appreciate those who give back.
After 35 of their flags were stolen during the motorcycle rally over the July 4 weekend, a local Boy Scouts chapter asked the city council at a meeting to reimburse the $906 replacement cost and handed officials a receipt for the new flags.
Although Hollister officials are in a tough spot and are not in a place to reimburse the money – because the city didn’t request or sanction the flag displays, and paying the funds would set a troubling precedent – they should encourage a fundraiser drive to pay the amount.
It looks like the city is doing just that, as Mayor Ignacio Velazquez reported Wednesday that Corbin Motorcycle Seats and others are stepping up to pay for the flags.
Reimbursing for the flags would actually break precedent because Hollister council members already have one for these situations. They regularly and routinely deny any claim requests that are filled out on the official form used to ask the city for reimbursements to pay for damages, stolen items, injuries on city properties or any other reasons citizens feel owed. Claims are not only a means to request money, but they also act as the initial step in filing a potential lawsuit against government entities.
With the Boy Scouts, they took the more cordial approach and asked nicely in person at the council meeting. But it shouldn’t mean that they get any additional consideration, because then everyone would start showing up at council meetings with their emotion-laced stories pleading for city reimbursements. And that would leave council members in even tighter spots than this one.
Instead, the city and others in the community – perhaps local veterans groups could get involved – can show their support for the Boy Scouts by giving back through their own form of service, fundraising. That way, the city and other appreciative citizens can reciprocate support for those young volunteers who get up early on holidays to remind us all about the value of community service.

Leave your comments