God knows a lot of people believe our Mayor and Council have done foolish things in the past but there’s no reason to jump the gun and ascribe new and undeserved stupidities to them.
I am speaking, of course, of a story that has for the last three days outraged many in our community. The story goes like this: the City sent the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 46 a bill for somewhere between $275 and $300 (depending what version you’re hearing) for the use of street barricades on Remembrance Day.
That’s a whopper of a tale and one bound to ignite the anger of almost everyone who hears it. Remembrance Day is one of Revelstoke’s best-attended and most beloved public ceremonies despite the fact that Branch 46 has for years struggled with heavy expenses, declining memberships and little assistance from the City. So it’s not surprising that a tale about the City’s cold-hearted billing for barricade use would get around fast. (I have to say that on Thursday two people pulled over to the side First Street West to yell at me about the alleged billing and the stupidity of our municipal government for permitting it.)
However… none of it is true.
There was no bill sent to the Legion.
Mayor David Raven discovered that on Thursday afternoon when he was at a Rotary Club meeting at the Regent where the City was publicly berated to billing the Legion. Doubtlessly embarrassed and described as visibly angry Raven marched back to City Hall where he confronted our local swivel servants and they appeared to be… mystified.
And they should have been mystified. There was no bill sent and no bill was received by the Legion.
Branch 46 President Greg Brownlee told me on Saturday that nobody billed the Legion this year.
“That was last year,” he said with a laugh. “They sent us a bill for $150, which was really a bill for holding our parade. We weren’t going to pay it and in fact we didn’t. But nobody has sent us a bill this year.”
Some one started this story. Why would they do that? Are they simply malicious?
It’s kind of like the story that made the rounds after RMR opened two weeks ago. That one claimed a skier died on the mountain. It, too, was baseless.
The basic rule of thumb for professional journalists is this: if you hear a rumour, check it out. But if you can’t confirm it don’t report it.
That applies to this story as well. Besides… City Council may do something foolish in the not-too-distant future. Why jump the gun?