Is newspaper editor targeting certain people?

Letter to the Editor

Posted 6/28/24

Once upon a time, I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and among what is written in the Constitution is freedom of speech.

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Is newspaper editor targeting certain people?

Letter to the Editor


Dear Katrina, 

Once upon a time, I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and among what is written in the Constitution is freedom of speech. I've noticed you have been exercising that right lately, and thats great. But, for the last several months, I have noticed quite a few things that you have written about, and honestly, it looks like you are targeting people and using social media to do it.
For instance, during the last parade several months ago, you wrote an article involving Jim Craig and him dropping the American flag on the ground. You blatantly berated this man in the park with such hostility that your behavior prompted the Vietnam Veterans of America to leave their tent to get away from it.
Now, fast forward: a few days ago, you posted an article about the flag being painted in a parking spot designated for veterans, and yet in the article, you managed to drag Jim into this again. And then again today. Why is it that it looks like you are targeting certain people and certain things?
For example, the flags in Veterans Park was shredded and tattered for a month and a half, and you or no one else noticed or said anything. They were replaced right before David Allen, the public works director passed, and I had replaced them seven times prior to that. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to replace them again, and with Paul Hiott stepping up, they were able to be replaced. 
Another example is that there are several local businesses that have flags that are in bad shape, but are you putting them on blast? NO. You are not.
After my letter to the editor that you probably didn't read, it went into a little detail about the veteran who painted it and how maybe something so distasteful to you might have restored a little pride and hope in this veteran's life. But that is something I or other veterans should never expect you to ever feel or understand because they don't teach that in the girl scouts. You can say it's about the flag, but if it were, you would have done more about the flags in this town, being that it is something that is dear to your heart.

Veteran Gregg Maynard

Katrina Elsken responds: Since this letter questions me directly, I will respond.  During the Speckled Perch Festival parade, I saw people tossing flags on the ground right in front of me.  I objected at the time.  I made quite a fuss.  Usually I try to be an unbiased observer. But I could not stay quiet when I saw the flags tossed on the ground. I later wrote about that incident as it happened in public and people saw and heard it. 

Of note, I did not  ever accuse Jim Craig of anything. I did not see him toss anything from the float. I objected to people who were walking along the parade route, tossing flags to the ground. Mr. Craig himself later said he threw flags from the float, but I did not see that or claim to have seen it.

After I made the fuss about the flags on the ground at the parade, I was challenged by some who responded to that commentary to pay more attention to other flag violations.  On June 14, I published an article about the Flag Code. Around that time, Mr. Craig also sent in an article about Flag Code, which we also published.

After the Flag Code articles were published, a veteran brought the issue of the flag painted on the parking spot to my attention. Apparently it had been there for more than a year, but no one brought it to my attention before that. The sheriff's office is at the end of a street -- in fact they closed part of that street when they built the sheriff's office because they accidentally built it slightly in the wrong spot.  So it's not a place I pass frequently. I have been to the sheriff's office in the past year, but it's just a few blocks from my office and I walked. I suppose I was looking at the sidewalk and the buildings and not the parking spaces.

So once it was brought to my attention,  remembering I have been asked to do more to promote the Flag Code, I posted the photo and information on the website and asked the readers for their opinions. Because Mr. Craig had recently submitted an article about Flag Code, I reached out to him via email for comment. I also reached out to local officials who did not respond. Possibly they just didn't check their emails.

Many readers responded  to the article about the parking space. Some people loved the parking lot flag and thought it was great. Some people were horrified at the idea of parking a car on the American flag.  Some people didn't care one way or another.  

Obviously the person who painted it meant no harm. And the sheriff who allowed it to be painted there meant no harm.   

You responded with a letter, which we shared on the website.

After the online discussion, the sheriff's office opted to repaint the parking spot. They sent a photo, which we also shared on the website. Personally, I think that was a wise and compassionate decision. Some veterans were really upset at the sight of a car parked on top of the American flag. The whole point of the reserved space was to provide a place for veterans to park.

Yes, it really is about the flags. I care about a great many things, and the American flag is on the list. My Dad was a World War II veteran who proudly drove a car with a Purple Heart license plate. He taught me to honor the flag. My husband is a veteran. I have many veterans in my family.

While I know many things -- such as flags on clothing -- violate the official Flag Code, I don't generally complain about it. In your previous letter, you asked where we draw the line on Flag Code. It appears that I draw the line at flags on the ground. That's what gets my attention as something that should not be happening. On the two cases mentioned, that's what inspired me to write about it.

Years ago I wrote another story about a flag on the ground.  It was sometime between 1986 when I moved to Okeechobee and 1991 when the newspaper offices moved to Fountain Square. During that time the newsppaer office was across from the courthouse One day, there was a bad thunderstorm. We were watching the lightning strikes.  Lightning hit the flag pole at the courthouse. The flag pole splintered and the flag fell to the ground. Moments later, I saw someone dash out into the storm to retrieve the flag from the ground. I later interviewed that man, who worked at the courthouse. I took a photo of him for the paper.

Once, for Flag Day, I did go all over town taking photos of tattered flags and shared the photos with a story about Flag Code.

I also get a little upset when people don't stand up for the flag in a parade, and I have written about that in the past.  I always encourage those around me to stand for the flag.  

Because I don't notice or write about every tattered or worn flag in Okeechobee does not mean I have some ulterior motive.  

I always have more story ideas than I have time to write about. I stay pretty busy just trying to keep up with the environmental coverage of the Lake Okeechobee watershed. 

If you or other community members want to bring the issue of worn or tattered flags to the attention of the public, send me the photos. I'll publish them.  Email them to

And I will continue to protect everyone's Freedom of Speech.


veteran, Gregg Maynard