If one is going to be wrong, it may be great to be very good at it. Like totally wrong, 180 degrees from being correct.
In this newspaper last week I had Al Grieshaber not accepting a contract as city manager of Indian Rocks Beach. It was reported wrong. He did accept the contract and is now IRB's city manager. Sorry, Al.
My apologies to everyone, in fact, who relies on the Gazette for up to date, crackling news.
This colossal error does not rank with the Chicago Tribune's giving the 1948 presidential race to Tom Dewey, but last week's miscue ranks high with me.
It is the second mistake in a long, almost faultless career.
Oh, I have been wrong before.
Yes, I was wrong that time long ago when I thought I was wrong, but it turned out I was mistaken.
The Indian Rocks Beach City Commission went through a torturous and difficult process of trying to reach an accord with Grieshaber.
He succeeded John Coffey last summer and it appeared he was officially hired back in December. The catch there was that the hiring was subject to the successful completion of a contract.
Then the tennis match of negotiations began. The city outlined what its basic salary parameters were. Grieshaber came back with a salary demand above the city's top number. He wanted $102,500 (consider - the city manager of Largo, a city precisely 10 times larger than Indian Rocks Beach with a fire department, police department, trash collection, huge public works, water treatment, library, huge recreation department all of which the CM is responsible for, gets $125,000 a year).
Then, at the February 7 meeting, the commission came up with a final "take it or leave it" offer. Grieshaber responded with a counter offer. (So much for take it or leave it.)
Came the February 14 meeting and the commissioners struggled with the contract.
Citizens came to the microphone bemoaning the delay, that Grieshaber was holding the city "hostage," that too much time had passed, that the city was at a disadvantage.
Finally, a motion was made to offer the very same "final, take it or leave it" deal that had been put on the table February 7. The motion was passed, 3-2. None of Grieshaber's new demands was met.
At the completion of the vote, Grieshaber stood, said something inaudible, then sat back down. I thought he had rejected the contract. I checked with Neil Brookfield, sitting next to me. He agreed that Grieshaber had rejected the offer.
I left the meeting, believing that the matter was a done deal.
When there is a discovery of a mistake like this, the first sensation is a very lousy sick feeling in the pit of the stomach. Then the impulse is to deny. Then comes the idea that the whole thing was someone else's fault. Someone is going to pay for this.
Maybe you know the feelings. Human impulse, it seems, is always at the junction of fight or flee. I learned a long time ago that submission is the answer - don't run, don't fight . . . especially when you're wrong.
I have spent all of my life as a newspaperman (not a journalist - that opens the door to anything) and the one purpose in being such is to get correct what one reports.
The philosophy of the newspaperman is to be where the average guy or gal can't always make it, to convey to them what they are entitled to know, and to give them that information accurately.
So, bottom line, my mistake regarding the Indian Rocks proceedings is not funny.
And reporting that mistake is incumbent on me.
I beg your forgiveness.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition