499. Palatka City Commissioner Allegra Kitchens demonstrated she can 'stand the heat'

Top 500 Newsmakers of Central Florida / Headline Surfer®
Headline Surfer® has long since passed the half decade mark of providing around-the-clock award-winning breaking news & investigative reporting coverage for Central Florida with our April 7, 2008, launch as the Sunshine State's first exclusively-online newspaper. As part of the milestone our special countdown of the Top 500 newsmakers continues here with No. 499.
 
Paltka City Commissioner Allegra Kitchens No. 496 in internet news countdown / Headline Surfer®Photo for Headline Surfer® /
Palatka City Commissioner Allegra Kitchens, shown here at left, took a lot of heat for questioning what she perceived as unethical behavior at City Hall regarding the staff's attempt to modify certificate of appropriateness for First Baptist Church of Palatka that was approved by the planning board in January.
 

PALATKA -- It was President Truman who said, "I'll stand by [you] but if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen." Palatka City Commissioner Allegra Kitchens can relate to the pressure of politics; her last name befitting of the controversy stirred up earlier this year.

But first a little history lesson before returning to the drama earlier this year in rural Putnam County.

Harry S. Truman goes down in history as the president who fired one of the most popular generals of the first half of the 20th century, perhaps only rivaled in popularity by fellow World War II generals George Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

"Ike" would follow Truman's presidency with two terms of his own. And MacArthur, who let it be known he could be president, was sacked by "Give 'em hell Harry" in 1951.

MacArthur was looking to take a page out of Truman's playbook in bringing a quick resolution to the Korean Conflict by suggesting an atomic bomb would get the job done. After all, it was Truman who ordered the atomic bomb blasts that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima; bringing Japan to its knees and an end to WW II. MacArthur's challenge of authority was opposite Truman's boots on the ground philosophy in repelling the communists from the North.

This led to Truman's far less politically-correct statement of his upstart general who was welcomed back to the States like a conquering hero by the American people: "I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three quarters of them would be in jail."

Patlaka's Kitchens is not quite as vocal, though she proved she can stand the heat of the kitchen -- the perfect metaphor for her requesting City Manager Michael Czymbor and several municipal staffers city staff members be reprimanded for “unethical” behavior earlier this year.

Kitchens told the Palatka Daily News that she was informed by community members and “elected officials from other areas” that staff held a meeting with officials from First Baptist Church of Palatka in an effort to change the agreed terms of the church’s certificate of appropriateness approved by the city’s planning board in January.

“The church was told that they had until Feb. 7 to agree to the new terms or the staff would appeal the conditional use decision to the city commission,” she said in a story published in April.

Suffice to say Kitchens didn't get a second to her motion in calling for an emergency item on the agenda to push for reprimands. Commissioner Phil Leary moved to adjourn the Feb. 28 meeting following Kitchens’ bombshell of an accusation, stating that the discussion was “completely out of line,” according to the newspaper.

City Manager Czymbor was livid, telling Palatka Daily News reporter Asia Aikins he was blind-sided by Kitchens: “That’s very surprising that I would hear about (the allegations) as an emergency item at the city commission meeting. I don’t conduct business that way, I wouldn’t conduct my professional, personal affairs that way and I don’t do that with staff."

Palatka City Manager Michael Czymbor / Headline Surfer® HeadlineSurfer.comPalataka City Manager Michael Czymbor was livid, telling Palatka Daily News reporter Asia Aikins he was blind-sided by City Commissioner Allegra Kitchens: “That’s very surprising that I would hear about (the allegations) as an emergency item at the city commission meeting. I don’t conduct business that way, I wouldn’t conduct my professional, personal affairs that way and I don’t do that with staff."

Kitchens, an elected commissioner since 2005 with a $15,309 salary, and who has been around government a long time -- she retired in the Spring the spring of 2005, after 36 years as a deed worker in the Putnam County Property Appraiser’s office -- didn't back down, though.

She said she had to wait for the next public meeting after learning of the situation because she didn't want to violate Florida's Government in Sunshine Law.

“I think it was unethical (for staff members) to go behind the planning board’s back in an attempt to overturn, amend or change their decision," Kitchens argued. "I further think it was unethical for them to use the threat of an appeal in an under-handed attempt to coerce First Baptist. There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of behavior.”

“I think it was unethical (for staff members) to go behind the planning board’s back in an attempt to overturn, amend or change their decision," Kitchens argued. "I further think it was unethical for them to use the threat of an appeal in an under-handed attempt to coerce First Baptist. There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of behavior.”

FAST FACTS: Truman and MacArthur at odds over Korean Conflict

 
YouTube videos (by Educational Video Group) downloaded by Headline Surfer® /

1st video: President Truman explains to nation in address why he fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur. 2nd video: MacArthur makes a farewell speech.  

On April 11, 1951, U.S. President Harry S. Truman relieved General of the Army Douglas MacArthur of his commands for making public statements that contradicted the administration's policies. MacArthur was a popular hero of World War II, who was then the commander of United Nations forces fighting in the Korean War, and his relief remains a controversial topic in the field of civil-military relations. MacArthur led the Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific during World War II, and after the war was in charge of the occupation of Japan. When North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, starting the Korean War, he was designated commander of the UN forces defending South Korea. He conceived and executed the amphibious assault at Inchon on Sept, 15, 1950, for which he was hailed as a military genius. However, when he followed up his victory with a full-scale invasion of North Korea on Truman's orders, China intervened in the war and inflicted a series of defeats, compelling him to withdraw from North Korea. By April 1951, the military situation had stabilized, but MacArthur's public statements became increasingly irritating to Truman, and he relieved MacArthur of his command. 

Did You Know?

President Truman / Headline Surfer® HeadlineSurfer.comHarry S. Truman, who became the nation's 33rd president upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, and won an unexpected victory in the 1948 presidential election, was the only president who served after 1897 without a college degree, but attended a business colleand took some law classes. Other Previous presidents without a college degree: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland and William McKinley.

Top 500 Newsmakers of Central Florida / Headline Surfer®

The Recap: 

Paltka City Commissioner Allegra Kitchens No. 496 in internet news countdown / Headline Surfer®499. Palatka City Commissioner Allegra Kitchens demonstrated she can 'stand the heat'
Posted Mon, 2014-06-09 03:14
Orlando WKMG TV anchor Lauren Rowe resigns / Headline Surfer®500. Lauren Rowe leaves WKMG Local 6 News after decade-plus run
Posted Thu, 2014-06-05 08:48
Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards. Frederick is enrolled online at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's a third of the way though the Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation will be in March 2018.