Special Commentary from publisher Randy Keck:
This commentary is a highly unusual event for The Community News, but under the circumstances I felt that this information needed to be sent out before the next issue of our newspaper goes to press.
If you talk to Willow Park City Administrator Candy Scott, you may see bus tire treads running up and down her back. Another newspaper has been reporting stories that place the blame for Willow Park’s current budget problems squarely on her shoulders.
It is not the purpose of this commentary to critique the way our competitors handle their reporting; nor is it to delve into the reasons for Willow Park’s financial mess. But there is information you, as readers of either or both newspapers, should know.
The two stories in the other newspaper have come on the heels of two special budget meetings and city council meetings held in Willow Park. The Community News had a reporter at both meetings. The other newspaper did not. The absence of their reporter has not prevented them from reporting on the meetings, but we feel it should be stressed that the information in both reports in regard to Candy Scott was not discussed at either meeting – at least in the public portion of the meetings.
One of the topics which WAS discussed at last Tuesday’s meeting was pointed out by council member Gene Martin – that 35 percent of the money the city spent on engineering this year was labeled as “miscellaneous” and “plat reviews.” Martin pointed out that no plat reviews were sent to the city engineer. You have not read about that in the other newspaper.
It might behoove a city official to deflect attention away from other issues by casting blame on a city employee in the pages of a newspaper. It may garner readers for that newspaper to print those accusations on its front page.
We cannot speak to the true and ultimate reasons for the budget difficulties in Willow Park. Certainly many factors have been discussed, from excessive engineering fees to faulty software. But to virtually fire a city administrator in the press, we feel, should be addressed for people who were not at the meetings. We do not know if other members of the city council are in favor of this practice. They have been silent on the issue.
The mayor of Willow Park has The Community News on a "short leash." We are required to submit our questions to him in writing, in advance, with a 72-hour time frame. Obviously, the reporter from the other newspaper is not under that same constraint. We can only guess it is because, according to the mayor, they are “accurate” in their reporting. We have invited the mayor on more than one occasion to point out to us any errors of fact from our newspaper that have not been addressed in print. We have not received a response.
We will continue to commit the resources of our newspaper to having a reporter present at these meetings. We understand that a corporate-owned paper may not have that luxury. But please understand that what you may be reading, at least in regard to City Administrator Scott, is not what is being discussed in public at those meetings.