Genesee County Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock cautioned that the proposed county budget that was filed yesterday "gives a whole new meaning to the word 'tentative'," according to the Daily News. Hancock told reporter Paul Mrozek that so much hinges on what will happen at the state level—"Will there be mandate relief? Will there be mandates that are unfunded?"—that it's tough to say just what the county can afford.
That means the legislature will likely wait until December to vote on the budget, hoping that at least some answers will come from Albany by then. For more details on the budget, check out our post on Mrozek's story from yesterday.
In other news, Virginia Kropf has an interesting article in today's paper. She writes:
I just want to sound off about people who hang up on me when I call about a story. It has happened several times lately and I find it hard to understand. It seems people (and businesses) want the publicity when things are good, but think the public is not entitled to the news when it's not so good.
Kropf then recounts a couple particular instances, such as when she tried to inquire about the rumors that Pizza Hut was planning to close some of its area restaurants, and she was told by a fellow at the district office that "he had no idea what (she) was talking about"—and then he hung up on her.
It's fine, writes Kropf, if someone "can't comment now," but "don't hang up on us." That seems like a fair enough request. But it also seems like par for the course for any reporter who is digging in someone's dirty laundry pile—a real complement for any journalist of the investigative stripe.
What do you think? Do reporters deserve more courtesy? What about the other glaring issue here: folks did not only hang up on Kropf, they flat out lied to her? Sure, the fellow at Pizza Hut's district headquarters may have been rude in hanging up the telephone instead of answering Kropf's question. But what about the big fat lie that he didn't know what was going on. Listen to what Kropf says here:
I mentioned I had seen a sign on the counter of the Albion store which read, "Due to our closing, we are out of the following..." He told me it was news to him and he guessed he'd have to call and tell them to take it down.
Then, the very next day, Pizza Hut issued a news release about the closing of the stores. So why lie? Is this a simple case of a hush-hush corporate policy getting tangled up in a situation that no one can deny?
One thing is for sure: I can sympathize with Kropf. As a reporter, I've had a few phones slammed in my ear—often to the great delight of the other person.
But it's going to happen.
Let's now have a talk about our rights as "the" public. As Kropf says, the same folks who seek out press coverage of their goodness will often nevertheless act as if "the public is not entitled to the news when it's not so good." So, what are we entitled to? Do we deserve to know that Pizza Hut is closing? The employees certainly should. But do we? If we call to ask, can the management just tell us to buzz off?
What about the time I called Ponderosa to ask about a recent burglary and I was told that there was no burglary only to read the next day in the paper that there was, in fact, a burglary? Should they have told me the truth? Are they required to talk to me at all?
Where is the line drawn for what the public deserves to know? Or how about we start with this: what does the public "want" to know?
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