Angry Plymouth City Manager gets apology from publisher
Dec. 14, 2012 PLYMOUTH VOICE.
“I feel bad for my part in turning him into the snarling creature who called me.”
Facing Mr. Hyde after offending Dr. Jeykell: Chapter One
By: Susan Willett
Here’s a hint for a holiday hostesses. Don’t invite Paul Sincock and me to the same party.
Sincock is the city manager in Plymouth and I suspect that he’s still annoyed with me.
He called me two weeks ago to complain about a story on the front page that dealt with the current status of fire protection services in his community. He was irate then and I suspect he’s still angry. Actually, he was more than irate. I apparently turned this usually nice man into a snarling werewolf-like creature.
He had a lot of complaints about the story and my professional performance and he wasn’t shy about telling me exactly where I had gone wrong and the error of my ways. He informed me that the article in question said that response times were on the agenda at the last two meetings of the fire advisory board, which was entirely incorrect.
“Response times are on the agenda at EVERY meeting,” he explained, not too calmly.
Well, OK Paul, I guess you got me there. Sorry about that.
He then explained that the claim that some response times were being reported as the time any officer arrived on the scene, with or without equipment, was completely erroneous.
“We report response time when the first fire unit arrives on the scene,” he said.
Well, that’s as it should be, I guess, but I wonder how long it takes after that for the paid on-call firefighters to arrive from Northville and elsewhere. I sure wasn’t about to ask him that question, though. I may be dumb, but I’m not that stupid.
So, while we were informed that at least one other community is reporting that way, Paul says not in Plymouth. I apologize to Paul and everyone else who was misinformed by the article and that information. I’m actually being serious here. I do regret it more than anybody knows when we make a mistake. Paul’s temper wouldn’t have snapped, I don’t think, if it hadn’t been an egregious error, either.
Except, here’s the thing, I ‘m still really not sure where we went wrong here, except for the two items mentioned above. Paul was so angry, even he found it difficult to articulate the actual errors. Now anybody who knows Paul would tell you, that’s going some. He’s about the most articulate guy you will meet, and one of the most personable and charming. When he isn’t shouting and stuttering with rage, that is.
I feel bad for my part in turning him into the snarling creature who called me.
I suspect it may have been the tone of the article, which, upon rereading, could have been interpreted as harsh. Nobody likes to read about fire stations in the city being closed and depending on a neighboring community for fire service. In retrospect, I don’t think Paul is happy about that, either. I suspect being reminded that the city fire service is markedly different than it used to be isn’t pleasant for him.
One point he made, and made clearly, was that he knows that, “You think the township has problems, but don’t drag the city into it.” Yeah, he’s right about that. We sorta did do that.
Then he said “Stop trying to drag us into this issue,” and I hafta say, well, we sorta did that, too.
“Stop diminishing the work we do here,” he said. Well, people will have to judge that for themselves based on the fire and medical emergency service they receive and the cost to taxpayers for it. But, I do personally and professionally regret any errors of fact or omission we printed and want Paul to know that if we were wrong (and apparently we were) I will try to make it right and be more objective and less judgmental the next time one of these stories crosses my desk.
Here’s the thing, though, Paul. You really, really need to do something to control your temper and your nuclear reaction to these things. I mean otherwise you are going to hyperventilate and could even stroke out. And with the current medical response times reported in Plymouth, that could be serious.
OK, so he’s probably still in no mood for my twisted sense of humor.
So, this is my apology, heartfelt and sincere, with no barbs attached.
I’ll try to do better.
Susan Willett is the Executive Publisher, Associated Newspapers of Michigan