Mt. Vernon Register-News

November 5, 2007

Every day craziness

Rend Lake College students who are trying to get to school on time will need to leave home a little early while roadwork is being done on the ramps and bridge at the Ina exit to Interstate 57. Those going to the college will need to take Route 37 through Ina and past Big Muddy River Correctional Center to County Line Road to get to the campus during the next week.

Ever notice that just about the time you make plans for the week, things happen that blow your best-laid plans out of the water? This is shaping up to be one of those weeks in the Register-News office. Lots of special events are happening in the King City. The city council will hold a workshop on Tuesday to discuss proposed zoning around the overpass/interchange; the Girl Scouts will host a father/daughter dance on Friday, and this weekend is shaping up to be busy with VFW Post 9233 hosting a Veterans Day ceremony at Times Square Mall; the Waltonville VFW hosting its annual Veterans Day Parade and Woodlawn veterans holding a ceremony at the Woodlawn Veterans Memorial. In addition, a Marine Corps Birthday Ball will be held Saturday, and Toys For Kids of Jefferson County will hold a fundraising event at Country Time in Nason. Motorcycle riders from Continental Tire North America will be helping raise funds and toys for the effort with a toy run Saturday morning.

Monday I was reminded that some rumors are just that — rumors. Every once in a while we get a good one, but Monday’s wasn’t the golden news tip. One of our forums gave us the first inkling there might be a major story coming out of City Hall regarding an employee and misuse of public funds. After chasing the rumor for a couple of hours, I was able to track down City Manager Ron Neibert, who had already read the rumor on our site and made an official answer.

“I heard about the rumor this morning,” Neibert said. “I did some checking and investigated ... There is no basis to anything on the site.”

Neibert also said he was disappointed that so many of those posting on the forum were blaming Human Resources Director Mary Jo Pemberton. Neibert said the HR director isn’t the one who would take action in an investigation of wrong doing, but acts at the direction of the city manager.

I’m glad there are residents out there watching, and I take my job to find out more about what’s happening very seriously, doing follow-up investigations to verify rumors and news tips. In the biz we call it exerting “due diligence.” Sometimes journalists get the run-around from public officials while we are following up on rumors, but their duplicity usually comes out eventually. Personally, I can respect a public official or politician who says they can’t comment on an issue but I have no respect for the person who looks me in the eye and lies to me about an issue.