To err is human, and so too is learning from mistakes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 16, 2024

In April, I wrote an article about a proposed multi-use commercial building that had been floated as an idea during the monthly, public Faith Board of Aldermen meeting. On Tuesday, I attended the June board meeting, which included on its agenda the public hearing for a rezoning for the same commercial building.

Early during that hearing, a resident stood up to speak about the rezoning and directly quoted a sentence from my article. When I first heard her read that one sentence, I was delighted. After all, why else would I write about the meeting if not in an attempt to inform the residents about what happened at events where they were not present?

However, my excitement soon turned to discomfort when the term “misinformation” was used multiple times during the hearing. Now, I cannot say for certain whether that term was used to refer to my article or rumors that had been heard elsewhere, but I do know that four words of a 578-word story were at least somewhat prominent in that conversation.

“Adding a Mexican restaurant,” was the controversial part of the quoted sentence. And that is where I must admit that I made a mistake. In the meeting in April, the applicant said that the Mexican restaurant was El Patron, who had proposed to place a satellite kitchen in the building in an effort to expand upon their catering to Faith Academy. The issue on Tuesday was that people read that there was a Mexican restaurant and assumed that it would be a full restaurant, complete with decently heavy traffic and alcohol sales.

I did the same thing when I sat through the April meeting. When I went back and listened to my recording from that meeting again, the word Mexican showed up eight times during that hour-long meeting. Two of those were the applicant referring directly to the proposed El Patron satellite location. The other six uses of the word were from various people who spoke during the meeting, all used in an abstract manner to refer to the potential for a restaurant to go into the building.

In an effort to condense the discussion, which took up almost the entirety of that hour-long meeting, I simply stated in the story that the applicant could not commit to concrete answers as to occupants and then stated several generic usages that he said had been discussed. Because none of those usages were guaranteed to be a part of Faith in the future, I did not elaborate when maybe I should have.

However, I will say that I still stand by the facts and quotes that are used in the story. Although the context may not have been perfect, everything that was stated in the story is true.

At the end of the day, I made a conversation between family, friends and neighbors in Faith a little more difficult than it needs to be. To err is human, so I cannot promise that I will not make mistakes in the future, I can only promise that I will work to learn from this one.

Robert Sullivan covers crime, county and eastern Rowan municipalities, breaking news for the Salisbury Post.