0

Businessman Gieryic cited for code violations

Tom Gieryic of Gieryic’s Auto Service on Dawson Road stands next to an American flag he’s put in the right-of-way in the front of his business on Dawson Road. Gieryic says he’s been told by Albany Code Enforcement to remove the flag because it violates the city’s sign ordinance.

Tom Gieryic of Gieryic’s Auto Service on Dawson Road stands next to an American flag he’s put in the right-of-way in the front of his business on Dawson Road. Gieryic says he’s been told by Albany Code Enforcement to remove the flag because it violates the city’s sign ordinance.

ALBANY, Ga. -- After a confrontation with an Albany Code Enforcement officer, businessman Tom Gieryic said he's convinced the time has come for American patriots to stand up for the nation's flag.

Gieryic, owner of Gieryic's Dawson Road Automotive Repair at 2401 Dawson Road, was initially cited by Albany Code Officer Ruth Lewis Friday for, among other offenses, having an "American flag on a plastic pole (on the) westside curb (of) Dawson."

Albany Code Enforcement Director Mike Tilson said Monday morning the citation had been changed to a warning.

Incensed Friday by what he said was Lewis's "nasty attitude," as well as her insistence that he remove "a flag that has flown in front of my business for more than 30 years," Gieryic has rekindled the passions of local business owners who insist the city's sign ordinance is anti-business.

"It takes a lot to make me mad, but I was boiling Friday," Gieryic said Monday. "That flag that has flown in front of my business for more than 30 years is more than a flag. It's a symbol of our country and all that it stands for. And the meaning goes a lot deeper for me. The flag we fly symbolizes my father, who was a 30-plus-year veteran of the U.S. Army.

"I was not rude to this lady, but I did tell her I did not intend to take the flag down. That's when she stomped out to her car, got out her little booklet and wrote me a ticket."

Gieryic called Albany City Commissioners Bob Langstaff and Roger Marietta, who relayed the businessman's concerns to City Manager James Taylor. After checking with the Code office, Taylor called Gieryic late Friday afternoon.

"I never got a call back from the Code Enforcement office, even though I left two messages and was assured that a supervisor would call me," Gieryic said. "I was happy to hear from Mr. Taylor, though. He assured me that he would look into the situation and told me that as a 23-year veteran of the United States Armed Forces the flag was important to him, too.

"He told me I should continue to display my flag at its current location, and when I asked him if I would receive daily fines for doing so, he assured me that that would not happen."

Taylor said Monday he did instruct Gieryic to leave his flag where it was for the time being, but the city manager said he was not overriding the authority of the Code officer.

"I told Mr. Gieryic not to change anything until we figured out what he can and can't do," Taylor said Monday. "At the end of the day, we want people to know that we're supportive of all businesses in Albany.

"There's a lot about this issue I don't know yet, but we're going to figure it out. We can't make rules just for one individual, but we try to support every citizen in this community."

Tilson said Monday that Lewis was correct in her assessment of Gieryic's code violations and added that the businessman's flag display is a "clear violation."

"The conversation that Officer Lewis and Mr. Gieryic had was inevitable," Tilson said. "It could have been made long before now or two months down the road, but the signs and displays at that business are among many, many violations by local businesses. Some of them don't understand the ordinance, and some just don't want to cooperate.

"This is a tough job, but (Lewis) was part of the initial sign ordinance task force, and she was one of two officers who went door-to-door to talk with business owners about the ordinance. She understands the commission's intent with this ordinance."

Gieryic said Lewis "ordered" him to throw away a cigarette when he first approached her at his business then abruptly stopped her explanation of his ordinance violations to take a personal phone call. She then wrote him a citation when he said he would "fight for that flag to stay where it was placed."

A technician at Gieryic's Automotive confirmed the owner's assessment that Lewis acted unprofessionally.

"She was very nasty, had a nasty attitude," technician Joey Coffey said. "I was standing close enough to see and hear everything that went on. I couldn't believe a city employee acted as she did."

Tilson, who said he preferred to speak for Lewis, offered a different perspective.

"He told you she had a nasty attitude; she says the same thing about him," the Code director said. "It certainly wouldn't be proper for me to speculate what might have happened because I wasn't there. Her position is that his flag is in the right of way, and the evidence I have gathered supports that position."

Tilson said Marietta and city Planning Commission officials have proposed a number of changes to the current city sign ordinance, and a meeting has been called for 2 p.m. Thursday to discuss those potential changes.

"We're holding off (on giving more citations and warnings) until this next round of possible changes," the Code director said. "Hopefully some of the concerns (of business owners) will be cleared up."

Marietta said Monday he hopes language in the ordinance can be clarified so that city officials aren't "harassing citizens."

"We're going to look at some problems with the ordinance as it exists, and hopefully we can put in some specific wording that makes it clearer," the city commissioner said. "Frankly, I hope we can add wording to the effect that 'flags are not signs.'

"Staff has been looking at making some needed changes to the ordinance since we revised it back in October. We need to look at issues like 'legal nonconforming signs,' but mostly we hope to clear up the language of the ordinance."

Gieryic, meanwhile, said that while he "doesn't have the money" to get into a prolonged fight over his flag placement, he thinks more business owners and citizens need to stand up for their right to display the American flag.

"Frankly, I think the city's law concerning the United States flag is a stupid one and should be changed," he said. "I believe in that 'Don't Tread on Me' slogan and believe every American should be allowed to fly his or her flag -- as long as it doesn't impede traffic or cause some kind of safety issue -- anywhere they want on American soil."

Comments

ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 9 months ago

Gieryic's is one of the few mom & pop icons left in Albany. Same place for at least 30 years. Apparently, code enforcement was doing their job, but, for heaven's sake...and, there's the problem. I understand the need for standards and the public safety argument, but, this is ridiculous. Don't we have something to better to do with our time, energy and resources (tax money)?

4

Sister_Ruby 2 years, 9 months ago

"There is nothing more frightening than a low level beaurocrat with a little power." With all the REAL problems this city has, activities like this are a complete waste of taxpayer money. Why not get out there and really accomplish something meaningful THAT THE CITIZENS WANT!?!?

5

dingleberry 2 years, 9 months ago

Ruby, you have gotta quit saying things that make sense. This isn't the place for such!

0

Amazed2 2 years, 9 months ago

I know it takes money to move a business but more businesses need to contact Lee County about moving across the Lee County line. Lee County will be glad to glad to have the businesses from Albany.

1

Abytaxpayer 2 years, 9 months ago

Haven't you heard Albany is "Pro-Business".

Surely as many times as “City Officials” keep repeating it then it Must be true. Only problem is not ONE has any idea how to run a Successful business that is not TAX funded. Numerous Citizen’s board meetings have proved to be of little use to “City Officials”. Instead of listen and acting on citizen commits they have relied on leadership from KADB(and just how Legal is her Welcome to Albany signs?) and Planning Commission officials along with the very same out of town Lawyer who wrote the last flawed ordinance to make changes for the New and Improved Ordinance. And just why does Code Enforcement need to carry GUNS if they are so polite and business friendly. Makes you wonder if Mr. Gieryic was approached by a nice Business Friendly person to advise of a right of way violation or an Iron Fisted Gestapo Officer demanding you will do as I say or I will punish you for your lack of submission with a ticket and drag you to court where you will pay a BIG fine and you better not say anything or I have a gun and badge and I will put your azz in jail. Yep sounds like "Pro-Business" to me! Please if Albany is "Pro-Business" just tell us which one because it sure is NOT Small Business.

1

Amazed2 2 years, 9 months ago

Lee County and the Lee County Chamber should establish a fund to assist businesses with their move to Lee County. Maybe subidize rent/lease payment for 1 to 2 yrs or offer moving allowance, etc.

0

Abytaxpayer 2 years, 9 months ago

Well Lee County did push hard for the Westover Extension. A nice four lane highway with No bridges right into the Heart of Lee County’s soon to be developed business district (Thanks to Pro-Business Albany). But Albany will have Olive Garden to feed everyone as they come and go shopping in Lee County or will it just be a Landmark for where to turn for easy access to Lee County?

0

dingleberry 2 years, 9 months ago

Keep flying the flag and make the politicians deal with the issue. Perhaps we also need to tell the EDC this makes the city look bad unless we have anti-Americans from CA who want to set up shop here.

1

DoctorDorite 2 years, 9 months ago

The Toyota dealership in LEE COUNTY has the flag pole from Turner field that the City of Albany would'nt let Albany Ford erect. Its funny how it was good enough for the U.S government but not for the city of Albany. Valdosta, Thomasville, Tifton and even Cordele are attracting new businesses everyday, while Albany is losing them, wonder why ? A lack of leadership and a very dirty/trashy city, don't believe me, just ride the by-pass and check the trash. Who's gonna locate here ??

4

Abytaxpayer 2 years, 9 months ago

Hmm Mayor Adams on Walb-tv did say

"Albany is a entitlement City you might as well get used to it”.

Who needs small businesses when you got All those Government Checks coming each month?

3

KaosinAlbany 2 years, 9 months ago

Mayor Adams made this an entitlement city. He only wanted people who depend on the government to live here and what he did in his 8 year term made it very clear what his intentions were. He really didn't have to say anything. Now, it is time for the young people of Albany to emerge and fight what he did to our city. I am fighting, will you stand with me? I have come to realize that most of our city leaders are older and all they are doing is looking out for their futures, which is understandable, but what about the younger people here? Some of us want a future too so how about getting rid of that old thinking cap and let some of us youngsters put it on instead because we may just surprise you and make this a great city again. .

1

Abytaxpayer 2 years, 9 months ago

Kaos I will stand with you for a better tomorrow for Albany.

Sadly too many of our young people are frustrated and feel their voice means nothing or they just leave Albany looking for a better future. I have said it before, and I think it was to you, if you want to run for office or you know someone who has the quality and integrity and is willing to standup and be a voice for Albany’s Tomorrow then I will stand with you in supporting them.

0

KaosinAlbany 2 years, 9 months ago

Thanks, Abytaxpayer. I am going to send you a message via the Herald.

0

Francis_Scott_Key 2 years, 9 months ago

It is a sad day in America when the government prohibits the Star-Spangled Banner from being flown over private property. This is not some communist country like China or North Korea; so why is the City of Albany acting like it is? I wish Mr. Gieryic the best of luck in his fight to overturn this outrageous law. He just picked up another customer. May the Star-Spangled Banner forever wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave!

5

Alb5any 2 years, 9 months ago

Albany Police Department is the absolute worst I have seen in years; they try to act like they own the damn city. They have no respect for anyone, none whatsoever, and are the biggest @$$holes when you don't treat them with the respect they think they deserve (all the while acting like they are the toughest people ever because they can write tickets, wear a piece of medal, and carry a gun around). They deserve no respect and do a terrible job at their jobs. They are all a bunch of pos and are so damn rude.

1

waltspecht 2 years, 9 months ago

If you have proof of what you say, did you contact the Supervisors of the involved Officers? Have you turned badge numbers into the Department Internal Affairs unit? Have you contacted your representative with car numbers, badge numbers or names of said Officers? All these systems are in place, and you have simply to use them. You can use your cell phone to record any incident, or a video camera. There may actually be tape of the alleged incidents, because the city does have video equipment. So if you speak the truth, follow it up and get it corrected.

1

bubbavet 2 years, 9 months ago

Walt, It goes on deaf ears. They don't accept responsibility. I'm still waiting on a call two months after I had called ten days in a row and was assured I would get answer.

0

Alb5any 2 years, 9 months ago

As a matter of fact I have Walt...nothing done.

0

myside 2 years, 9 months ago

Just another example of the city of Albany being the city of Albany. Therein lies one reason for its failure as a decent place to live and do business. Tilson and Lewis are prime examples.

1

tocar 2 years, 9 months ago

I think that Code has more to do in Albany, Georgia than to exercise his / her "no authority. Look at all of the trashy places that are eye sores in this town. Are you citing any of those property owners? Leave this business alone and take care of more important things. This city is a pathetic place to have to live and our leaders are more than that.

2

rock 2 years, 9 months ago

Let's get to the point that the American Flag is being removed everyday from business and households all over the United States by dumbA%% low life people with a little power and big egos. Start by calling for Lewis's termination for being an idiot and rude and unprofessional behaviiour. THEN every house, every business, fly the American Flag. This is our country, our flag and WE need to stop every dumba%% with a B&*ch from stopping what rightfully is ours. WE cannot pray in schools, People what crosses removed from Military cemetaries and now we cannot fly our Flag. Stand up, Fly the colors and tell the city code enforcers, People like rude Lewis and our internal enemies to kiss our AMERICAN a%%,

4

Jack_Frost 2 years, 9 months ago

It's funny, but most of the Code Enforcement officers have poor attitudes, and Tom Gieryic has always been professional. Take a wild guess who I actually believe? It sure isn't Mike Tilson who is known by many to be used by local officials for look for violations of a punitive nature against opponents. Oh yeah, THIS is the "Good Life City". I'm just glad we're "pro-business". Just imagine what things would be like if we were "anti-business"?

2

KaosinAlbany 2 years, 9 months ago

Jack, what you say is true. My husband has experienced this himself with Mr.Tilson. I'll talk to you about this later.

0

whattheheck 2 years, 9 months ago

We have blighted property all over town and we have a neat, thriving business displaying a flag. So let's do the dumb thing and go after the business. After all, Albany still has a few left and we certainly can't make it easy for them to survive.

I hope the EDC takes note of this and, when it can't attract business to the community, connects a few dots to reach the "gee whiz" point. I'm sorry, it just doesn't get much dumber than this. Well, that may not prove to be correct--the day is just starting.

.

2

KaosinAlbany 2 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, the code enforcement sure doesn't help our moral, but when we complain the EDC blames us for Albany not being able to attract industry. They say it is our attitudes. Come on, Ted Clem needs to go back to PC Beach.

0

1d2ec 2 years, 9 months ago

If the flag has been there 30 years, was it it installed in the right of way, or was that area given or taken as right of way?

0

reb_arty1863 2 years, 9 months ago

The "Dont Tread on me" flag predates the stars and stripes. It was used in the revolutionary war before the Betsy Ross Federal flag with 13 stars. Read your history!!

0

GMoney38 2 years, 9 months ago

You need to read your history. The "Don't Tread On Me" represent American patriotism. It still means don't mess with the United States.

0

43cop 2 years, 9 months ago

Tom, Congradulation for your stand for the one thing we have left, to display to symbol of our freedom, THE AMERICAN FLAG. The people of Dougherty County and the City of Albany need to stand behind Tom and force Code Enforcement to do what their organization is designed to do, enforce the Codes established and not pick and choose which person or business they decide to write a citation too, As far as Tilson as the Director of Code Enforcement, that is another joke in its self. The man came from the IT Department and was named Director of Code Enforcement and to make a decision on anything or speak in a civil tongue to the citizens is not part of his duties. So how can you expect some of the officers that work this department to be any different. Tom Gieryic is a gentleman and his staff have always been very courteous and I commend him for standing for the American way and Tom, fly that flag. I will personally go by today and thank him for his decision.

5

FlunkyMonkey 2 years, 9 months ago

How about some businesses moving to Worth County? I live in Worth County and would love to have a good Code Enforcement harassed restaurant move over there...

1

ustaknow 2 years, 9 months ago

The sign ordinance is the biggest harm to business. please abolish the sign ordinance in its entirety.

I personally know of business's that have had to relocate due to the restrictive sign ordinance.

1

GMoney38 2 years, 9 months ago

The city's sign ordinance is a joke, the American flag is not a sign that advertises the business. It advertises OUR FREEDOM, and a way to thank our veterans and current military members. And yes a flag has been flown in the same spot for 30 years. Tom continue to fly the flag with pride. Those colors don't run from foreign enemies and it darn should isn't going to run from a city.

4

waltspecht 2 years, 9 months ago

What is a Code Enforcement Officer doing with a cell phone while on the job? Is it a City issued cell phone? If not, then the employee probably shouldn't be using or carrying it while on the job. Many hours are wasted by working individuals conducting personal business on their cell phones while they are on the job. That is why many Industries have outlawed individual cell phones in posession when the people are on the clock. The only time they can check them is when they are on break or lunch. Other than that the cell phone must be kept in their vehicle or locker. I think, from the number of Bus Drivers, Police and WG&L employees I see talking on cell phones this is a sadly lacking part of City rules and regulations.

2

LuLu 2 years, 9 months ago

I just filled up yesterday morning before this story broke, but from now on I will be going to Gieryic's! It's not too far off my beaten path, and I will proudly give my business to a fellow patriot!

1

GMoney38 2 years, 9 months ago

Lulu - you can't fill up at Gieryic's anymore, but you can have your vehicle serviced there.

0

Mr_Heatmiser 2 years, 9 months ago

Good idea, Lulu, but about a year too late. Gieryic's doesn't sell gas any more.

0

LuLu 2 years, 9 months ago

Eeeewww.. Well that stinks. I guess I'll just honk my horn and wave as I drive by then!

3

teacherbraun 2 years, 9 months ago

In the anti-American attitude that has been supported by the President of the United States, we must stand up for America, and its symbols, before it and they are destroyed! Congratulations on being a patriot!!!!!!!!

2

UseYourBrain 2 years, 9 months ago

Well now...it took longer than I thought it would for someone to decide it's Obama's fault, LOL...you RWNJ's are slowing down.

The Gieryics are great folks and I used to get gas and repairs there when I lived in Hellbany. Glad I don't live there anymore and I'm sorry they are being treated like this. It's really inexcusable...but let's place the blame where it belongs, folks.

1

myside 2 years, 9 months ago

Most of our city government's decisions are racially motivated. Mr. Gieryic is one of the few white business operators left in this ghetto so he must be targeted. There are many areas that need the attention of the code enforcers more than a white guy flying the American flag outside his neat business, but they can be overlooked. That's what makes our city so popular.

1

VSU 2 years, 9 months ago

I'd bet that if Gieryic was black, the code enforcement officer would never even thought of going over there to write him up.

2

atina3438 2 years, 9 months ago

Yeah! Three cheers for White History month!

1

tywebb 2 years, 9 months ago

an American, flying the American flag, on American soil. It doesn't get any better than that! Tom, I suspect you're about to get more customers. I'm sure if he was flying the Mexican flag (or any other country's flag), nothing would have been done because it would not have been P.C! way to go hellbany! just another situation that proves to me that leaving was the right thing to do!

2

mandag 2 years, 9 months ago

It took me six months and several phone calls to have a broke down boat removed along the side of the road a neighbor decided to use as their yard. Code enforcements excuse it wasn't blocking the view of the road. But this is the thing they choose to enforce an American Flag being flown. Tom you keep us informed of this situation because you have our FULL SUPPORT!! Albany you have really got your priorities all wrong!!!!!!!!!

3

tocar 2 years, 9 months ago

I wish I were not a taxpayer and resident in the city of Albany. I am one of the several who cannot afford to get out of this place at this time. I urge our commissioners and city leaders to lead us in a positive direction rather than the 15 percent of taxpayers having to support this forsaken place and tolerate the mess that goes on here. We are a city of evil, laziness and immorality. What are our leaders thinking about? We do not have anything to offer new industries or small businesses. Albany is a JOKE!

2

Cartman 2 years, 9 months ago

Thank you, Tom Gieryic. Resist tyranny at every opportunity.

6

bubbavet 2 years, 9 months ago

You put a uniform and a badge on some of them and watch out. They work for their glory and not the citizens. Some would do it for free just to wear the uniform and badge. Sorry to say every department has them.

0

cbjohn 2 years, 9 months ago

Way to go Gieryic!! It's nice to see someone stand up for their beliefs.

1

Jacob 2 years, 9 months ago

Seems to me that the code enforcment people were simply enforcing the codes. Maybe some of yall's vitriol ought to be directed towards the writers of the code, not the enforcers who seem to have been doing what they are paid to do. I have contacted by local rep. Have you? Do you even know who your rep is?

0

tywebb 2 years, 9 months ago

why has it taken them 30 years to make it to this establishment who has had the flag proudly flying for decades? it also sounds like NOBODY has had a positive "run-in" with any code enforcer. doing your job is one thing....being a jerk about it is another (and that goes for ANY job)...unless you're from the IRS OR you are the doco schools finance director (lloyd) where doing your job and being a jerk go hand in hand!

0

KaosinAlbany 2 years, 9 months ago

You go ahead and contact your commissioner. Just hope it isn't Roger Marietta because then your voice will not be heard. I know from experience.

0

KaosinAlbany 2 years, 9 months ago

So now all of a sudden Marietta wants to do something about the sign ordinance after he has been promising another popular businessman this for over a year now. Marietta and the commission can create all the committees they want to on this issue but when they don't use the input that the committee gives them then what is the point? To save face? When all the businesses move outside Albany the commission will learn that they have successfully drove all the businesses out of Albany.

0

KaosinAlbany 2 years, 9 months ago

Also, if a business owner wants to smoke on his property a code enforcement officer has no right to tell him or her to put it out. What is this highschool or something. As long as he wasn't smoking in a building then isn't that ok? I probably would have blowed smoke in her face just for saying that. She had no right to say that to him. What a b@*&%$!

3

Jacob 2 years, 9 months ago

Depends if he was smoking inside or outside. Smoking is prohibitted in most businesses in Albany. Again, the code enforcers don't WRITE the codes. They are not called code writers, they are called code enforcers. Direct your anger to the correct target and then contact that target- your local representative. As to your blowing smoke in someone's face, that kind of demonstrates your maturity level, doesn't it? Although I highly doubut you would have the courage to do it in person. Internet tough guys and commando keyboard tough guys are a dime a dozen

0

KaosinAlbany 2 years, 9 months ago

What are you doing for your community, Jacob, to help improve this place. I am doing my fair share. What about yourself? I have contacted my representative and voiced my complaints many, many times and my representative doesn't represent me anymore (not after the last election). If he was smoking outside then it is not against the law but if he was smoking inside then yes, it was against the law. Yes, I am a keyboard commando. LOL

0

GMoney38 2 years, 9 months ago

He was outside in outside, which is his right. What you would do if you was a business owner taking a smoke break and a city code enforcer pulled up at your business and was asking for the owner. She didn't have a hissy fit because he had a cigarette.

0

DoctorDorite 2 years, 9 months ago

Please don't make this a Black/White issue because its not, its an American issue ! I'm white and had black friends die standing/laying beside me in Vietnam so please leave race out. Its a government caused problem, not a race issue.

1

Amy 2 years, 9 months ago

This must be a joke?!?! I have never in my life seen more idiots running a place than Albany has! I think Tom is doing the right thing by continuing to fly the AMERICAN FLAG and getting the media involved. If they really want to start passing out violations, they need to fine who ever put the LED lit sign on Jefferson. Or better yet, find something else to spend my money on. Something such as officers that actually do something about all the crimes that happen daily.

1

Cartman 2 years, 9 months ago

The sign ordinance needs to go. It has caused far more problems than it solved. But the commission would rather micromanage everyone than watch the city prosper.

0

SMHgain 2 years, 9 months ago

If the code enforcement consider the American flag a sign, just what is supposed to be advertised on the "sign"?

1

tmgrc 2 years, 9 months ago

Please don't make this an issue with code enforcement. Don't make it a racial issue. It is all about The United States Flag and the right we should have to display it on American soil without government interferance. That flag is mine and I am Proud to stand up for it!

2

KaosinAlbany 2 years, 9 months ago

I am happy you are standing up for the American flag.

0

Moe 2 years, 9 months ago

The sign ordinance was promoted KADB and its unelected fuhrer, Judy Bowles. Save Albany and flush the Bowles.

2

benh1936 2 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Taylor responded to a citizen? This may be a first.

0

SMHgain 2 years, 9 months ago

“We've gotten calls from as far as Arizona, we've gotten emails from people in Massachusetts and Utah,” says Albany City Commissioner Christopher Pike. “The people who are enforcing the rules are by no means unpatriotic and have probably served the country more than most people commenting on this story, so to say that we’re unpatriotic, at best, is a distortion of the truth.” Seems like Mr. Pike is upset with "outsiders" contacting the city regarding their ridiculous sign ordinance. He has no idea how some commenters have "served" their country, but assumes that it is in some way less than code enforcement employees and himself.

0

tmgrc 2 years, 9 months ago

over 50% of calls I have received are from current military or our Veterans. I am sure these are the same callers to the city.

0

Sign in to comment