Prairie Grove Village President Gives Village Side of the Restaurant American Flag Controversy

From Prairie Grove Village President David Underwood:

We have not met, but I understand there is significant controversy on your blog regarding an ordinance violation at Gianelli’s Drive-Thru. 

I respectfully request the opportunity to inform your readers of the truth behind Manager Trobiani’s story.

First and foremost, I would like to assure you and the public that Gianelli’s was not “ticketed for flying the American flag on July 4.” 

The issue is simply that he placed a series of American flags (not in conjunction with July 4) in the right-of-way of State Highway 176, which is a violation of both state and local law. 

The manager of the restaurant has lied and twisted events to create a completely false narrative.   

Photo of sign and flags on Route 176 right-of-way provided by Prairie Grove.

Manager Trobiani was asked to move the flags or take them down and he refused. 

He has since made legal and physical threats because he believes he should be able to put whatever type of signage he wants to outside of his business, even if certain types of signage is prohibited by local ordinance. 

He has unfortunately duped the public and supporters into believing that the Village prohibited him from flying the US flag.  This is a blatant lie; he is simply distorting the facts to bring attention to his business. 

In fact, the Village encourages the proper flying of the flag. 

Our press release is attached for your reference. 

Photo provided by Prairie Grove.

On a personal note, the officer who wrote the ordinance is an Army veteran. 

I am a retired firefighter of over 10 years who served on an honor guard and I also co-authored a book on proper treatment and etiquette to be used when flying the United States flag. 

My point in telling you this is that we are certainly not the ‘anti-Americans’ that Manager Trobiani would like people to believe. 

We are patriots just like Manager Trobiani’s supporters. 

The attached pictures show how Manager Trobiani has treated the American flag on his property before. 

I have personally pulled over numerous times to pick his flags up off the ground.

Photo provided by Prairie Grove.

Ironically, while Manager Trobiani appears to be rallying around a false narrative of being prohibited from flying the US flag, the Village is enforcing its rules and that of the United States Flag Code to ensure any flag flown within Prairie Grove is done properly and with the utmost respect it deserves.

The Village’s press release follows:

Prairie Grove Press Release on the Controversy

The Village of Prairie Grove is aware of accusations that it allegedly cited Gianelli’s Drive-Through for flying a United States flag.

The accusation is false and a gross misrepresentation of facts and circumstances

The manager of Gianelli’s, Terry Trobiani, has been a long-time vocal critic of the Village’s ordinance that regulates business signage, high-visibility temporary signs such as A-frames, feather flags, banners and the like.

The Village of Prairie Grove is a predominantly residential community with high aesthetic standards, including reasonable regulations of temporary signage.

Manager Trobiani has made his thoughts on the Village’s sign ordinance known in multiple Letters to the Editor, containing misrepresentations of the Village’s actions and personal insults toward Village Board members.

Recognizing the strain that Covid-19 was placing on small businesses and restaurants in particular, the Village President signed Executive Order 2020-01 in March, 2020, temporarily allowing temporary signage.

The Order explicitly stated that it would expire upon revocation or expiration of Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order No. 2020-07 which mandated mask usage and social distancing in businesses in response to the then rapidly-rising Covid 19 infection rate.

Earlier this year, the Governor’s Executive Order expired, and the Village President thereafter terminated Executive Order 2020-01. At that time, the Village’s original sign ordinance went back into effect. Deborah Peterson, the owner of Gianelli’s, was notified via email that the executive order had been rescinded.

Afterwards, the Village noticed that Gianelli’s was continuing to display temporary signage, in particular, feather flags, A-frames and banners in front of its business and on the right-of-way of Route 176. I

It also realized that Gianelli’s had placed American flags on the right-of-way of Route 176 which is violation of both local and state law.

Over the course of a month, Village staff – including the Village building inspector, Village administrator, Village
police chief and a Village police officer – explained to Manager Trobiani that Gianelli’s was in violation of the sign ordinance and that the business would be ticketed if it did not comply.

After multiple warnings, Manager Trobiani complied in part by removing all temporary signs and then stated in defiance that he was “going to WalMart to buy more American Flags to put in the ground,” and furthermore that he was going to call veterans and the VFW to stand outside of his business and “watch what happens when the Village attempts to take those flags down.”

The Village Administrator explained to Manager Trobiani that flags in the right-of-way were prohibited both in type and placement on the highway and that they needed to come down or be moved to an allowed location.

Ultimately Gianelli’s received two citations.

Ironically, the citations at issue are not for Gianelli’s long-standing defiance and violation of the temporary sign ordinance, but rather for improperly placing the US flag on a state right-of-way.

This action appears to have been an effort to set the Village up for public scrutiny for an issue it did not create.

Again, it is simply a violation of State and local Municipal Code to place anything on the right-of-way of a state highway.

This was explained this to Manager Trobiani, who again became irate and refused to cooperate.

As a result of non-compliance, Gianelli’s was cited for placing flags in the right-of-way of a state highway and for improper display of the United States flag.

Manager Trobiani responded to attempts by Village staff to obtain compliance by yelling obscenities as well as threatening lawsuits and writing letters to the Northwest Herald rife with half-truths, misrepresentations, and flat-out lies.

t is to be noted that after the Village President signed the executive order providing relief from the sign ordinance regulations for almost a year, Gianelli’s did nothing notable to increase its visibility by utilizing new forms of signage displays or advertising.

Furthermore, the current sign ordinance provides that business owners can petition the Village twice a year, for a month at a time, to use temporary signage. The Village has not once received such a petition from Gianelli’s.

The Village of Prairie Grove enthusiastically encourages the proper flying of the United States flag.

The Village’s Municipal Code sets forth regulations for displaying the US flag and furthermore adopts the United States Flag Code therein.

The Village sets provisions for flying the United States flag so that it is displayed with the utmost respect that it deserves.

The American flag is a symbol of our freedom, democracy, and the liberties we hold dear.

For that reason, the Village upholds its high standards and requires all US flags to be flown from permanent flag poles or staffs.

Manager Trobiani received a copy of the pertinent Village code, and chose to use the American flag disrespectfully, as a weapon to fight the Village on his issue.

Gianelli’s placement of the United States flags on a state highway right-of-way left them vulnerable, unsecured, susceptible to being blown over and being dirtied by vehicle traffic.

In previous instances, Gianelli’s has used American Flags as decorations attached to A-frame signs with tape. The Village has witnessed these flags blown off and left on the ground for days at a time.

Gianelli’s has attached small American flags to State/IDOT directional signs outside of its business with duct tape, left to be tattered by weather and blown off into the dirt. The Village finds these practices unacceptable.

Manager Trobiani has misled both the Press and the public into thinking that the Village of Prairie Grove cited him simply for flying a US flag, when in fact Manager Trobiani’s actions were very clearly intended to taunt the Village and stoke a fire under the guise of civil liberties.

The Village is proud to uphold the federal standards for displaying the United States flag; and, despite Manager Trobiani’s public claims to the contrary, the Village is vehemently supportive of all its businesses.

It is disappointing and offensive that a business manager would present such a blatantly distorted version of the facts to the public, rallying others under a false pretense of a violation of freedom of speech and using the symbol of our democracy as a tool in a twisted ploy to further his own commercial interest in displaying temporary signage.

= = = = =

With the issue being violation of laws and ordinances prohibiting placement of signs on the public right-of-wayj, I searched McHenry County Blog archives and found the following on a Prairie Grove right-of-way:

2015 campaign signs on Prairie Gove right-of-way.


Prairie Grove Village President Gives Village Side of the Restaurant American Flag Controversy — 22 Comments

  1. Pro Tip David:

    Had you ‘benevolent’ minders in the Public Sector hadn’t already burned your credibility on a pyre of contradictory Small Business killing guidelines, based on pulled-from-your-ass pseudoscience, you wouldn’t now have so much rampant kookery to deal with.

  2. Biggest violators of these types of rules are people running for office and their supporters.

    Anybody remember seeing a story about getting their illegal political sign that was in the ROW ripped off?

  3. Political signs are routinely removed from Right of Ways if the local authorities want to spend the time removing them.

    Either that or they are removed by opponents or their supporters (whether in the Right of Way or not).

    A pole in the Right of Way is clearly a hazard regardless of what is on it so the Village is correct here.

    He should just put as large a flag as allowed well within his property line and should accomplish the same thing.

    This is a great corner location and he should have no trouble attracting attention.

    Maybe do bikini car wash.

    He can supply American flag bikinis.

    Those are allowed.

  4. The Flag Code is ignored more now than ever.

    Yeah, flag bikinis.

    I saw a pickup truck flag yesterday with the end hanging dirty in the tools and materials in the bed of the truck.

    The guy meant well, I suppose, but it’s pretty disrespectful in the name of signaling what he probably thinks is his virtue, patriotism.

  5. I think the president of Prairie Grove is loeing.

    He is covering hos butt

  6. Perhaps this manager’s generation has never heard of the correct, respectful way to display the American flag. Let this be a lesson to him (them).

    If they don’t learn to follow village regulations regarding respect for the flag, then pay, not only the two outstanding fines, but ongoing fines until they do.

    The managers disrespectful retorts and use of abusive language should not be tolerated and reflects on the managers morals as well.

    Grow up and show some respect to all.

  7. Heir David.

    Nine nine nine!

    No amerikanische Flagge!

    Everyone in Prairie Grove should give this Nazi a good FU and vote him out of office!

  8. K.Knop, what are you talking about.

    The manager is a veteran and I’ve never heard him use abusive language.

    The village is in CYA mode. (cover your ass).

    His flags on the fourth of July were properly flown and looked awesome.

    Kinda like Davenport Funeral home’s.

    The ones who need to grow up are those on the village board who do not know how to promote business and serve the people of their village!

  9. Prairie Grove is a garbage municipality.

    It exists solely to accost and steal from motorists who forget that 176 drops to 25 in front of that school.

    Dissolve the village.

  10. It’s simple: respect the law and the people the flag represents and you won’t have this kind of trouble.

    You can’t make up your own rules in the name of the flag.

    You CAN find alternative ways to achieve the same goal, as has been suggested above.

    You CAN run for office if you don’t like the rules, or vote for people who might try and change them on your behalf.

    While I’m no fan of the unnecessary Village of Prairie Grove, I respect the response that was given.

  11. Hey underwear you need to pull your panties up little boy and be an American you piece of shit.

    Leave our flags alone or you leave the country traitor.

  12. Say it with me louder for the people in the back;

    The American flag is not a political symbol and it’s display protected by the first ammendment.

    The reasoning here is fully flawed and indicative of a tyrant.

    Power corrupts.

  13. Then the reporter got lied to by this restaurant owner?

    When will the station do a follow up?

  14. I see.

    If your a credentialed Public Sector baffoon, you can than make up a contradictory set of Calvinball guidelines, to deal with the Bat Lab Virus.

    Got it.

  15. The flagpole put up by the business was closer to the road than the other flags were.

    Whose to say who put the other flags out there on the ground.

    I dont think using bad language age will get anyone anywhere but I think that’s just the guys Rawson to give him a ticket…

    I’ve seen flags on city property in bigger cities like fire trucks and street signs, campaign signs you name it…

    I live in st paul and people don’t get ticketed.

    Seems to me he just wanted the upper hand here.

    This story was aired in st paul mn…

  16. Where exactly does the business private property line end and the public highway right-of-way begin?

    From the vidmax video, it looks as if the flags do not protrude any further than the width of the handicapped ramp in front of the business.

    It’s hard to believe that these flags are in the public right of way…they’re at least 40 feet from the actual traffic lanes.

  17. Safety.. Free Speech…Patriotism

    *In Illinois people are allowed to stand at BUSY intersections with signs wanting money… not safe for them and drivers! The flags at the small business looked safe to me.

    *Flying the flag should be the right of all Americans. I believe the flag flying seemed to be reasonable and safe. It appears that this small business or the flag was being targeted.

    *People should be allowed to fly the flag, not just on the 4th of July but every day, if they choose. I’m sure there are many
    violations that are selectively in-forced or not in-forced, ie:garage sales, political signs etc. all the time in your village.

    Free speech and patriotism should be cherished and protected in this country not prosecuted.

  18. Electric poles are usually along the edge of a right-of-way.

    I’m pretty sure the flags were put up on the building after the tickets were issued.

  19. This has nothing to do with the flag or personal freedom.

    Anyone ever stop to wonder *why* it is against the law to put signage and flags so close to the road?

    Notice that this store is on the corner of an intersection?

    When you break the law and obstruct the view of motorists, you could actually get someone killed!

    Don’t like it?

    Find a different location to put up a business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *