When you're wrong, an apology should be offered

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By Arlene Jones

I am a grown woman and when I am wrong, I can apologize. Just ask my kids. So when I saw the letter from Ald. Carothers (29th), last week in Austin Weekly News, accusing me of misquoting the alderman, I was taken aback. Why? Because my initial column stated that the quote came from the Chicago Tribune. And since my column was printed almost a month after the Trib's story, well, if a retraction were needed, Ald. Carothers should have gone to them first!

But I had Ald. Carothers' letter hanging over me. He wakes up every day thinking of ways to improve the 29th Ward, and those improvements don't get the attention of the "negative writers" who "hide behind an ink pen." I don't know if he included me in that label, but with my big legs, I could never hide behind an ink pen! What struck me most was when Ald. Carothers wrote, "However, I do expect them [negative writers] to make sure the facts are indeed correct and at least be accurate in their writing." Wow! Correct facts and accurate writing. The alderman and I agree!

The use of incorrect facts can have consequences. A person's reputation could be defamed. And since Ald. Carothers wrote, "I have never referred to Austin or the 29th Ward as being a blighted community," I wondered if I had committed a libelous act against the alderman. I mean he did take the time to write a very long letter, asking that I "focus on the truth" and then truthfully pointing out that I don't live in the 29th Ward. But I do live in Austin. This is the community I chose to move into and raise my children, and I will not have them brainwashed into believing that they are "blighted" or "impoverished." So somebody is due an apology.

I contacted the Tribune and the writer of the article, Jeanette Almada. She is the one who wrote the original article in the newspaper. After I explained about my column and Ald. Carothers' response, Jeanette told me she would call me back. And she did. She didn't have notes from the meeting, but she did have a recording of it. So she played it for me and there was Ald. Carothers' voice testifying that "Austin is a blighted community, now moving forward."

Alderman Carothers, for my apology I'll take a dozen roses. Naw, make it three dozen yellow roses delivered to my house along with your profuse written apology for questioning my integrity.

You see, I, too, practice your motto of "making sure the facts are indeed correct" and "be accurate in their writing." Which leads me to ask you this: Why did you write "new police stations and bridges" (plural for both)? That indicates that we should have more than one of each. Where are the other ones? Or did you get the money for two and just build one?

Oh well, if I don't get those roses, I'll understand 'cause you did say "negative writers [plural] who tear down their own communities." So I'll guess you were including yourself!

E-mail me: westside2day@yahoo.com.

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