Then I got an email from Liz Margolis, AAPS Communications Director, saying that the summary was incorrect. I updated the post with Liz Margolis' comments.
Later that night, I got a comment on the post from Ahmar Iqbal, one of the school board candidates, saying that the summary was incorrect, and essentially affirming what Liz Margolis had said.
At this point, I started wondering--should I pull this post? I'm not really sure about the protocols here, because I'm relatively new to blogging. I think it's one thing to leave a post up if you make a mistake that has a small bearing on the post--but if the main point is completely incorrect, then it seems to me it should be completely retracted.
(I admit that I was a little saddened by the idea of retracting a post--especially since I had put in some great vocabulary words! Words like obsequious and crestfallen! But just because I think I wrote something intelligent and funny doesn't mean that it shouldn't be retracted.)
Although some news organizations seem to have taken the point of view that once a post is posted, it can never be retracted, it can only be "corrected," not everyone agrees. In the science world, retractions from scientific journals happen frequently enough that there is now a blog, Retraction Watch, dedicated to identifying how and why scientific papers get retracted. Common reasons for retraction include falsification of data, plagiarism, and mistaken analysis of data. In fact, Retraction Watch just made it onto one of my favorite NPR shows, On the Media. You can find the link to that discussion here.
Obviously, my posts are not scientific papers, but at this point I had begun thinking that what had happened was akin to "mistaken analysis" and should be retracted. After all: was it my fault for relying on a secondary source (a news report) and not a primary source (being there)?
And then, this morning, I got on the computer and saw another comment. This comment is from Albert Howard, another school board candidate, and--in fact--the one who asked the question. And his recollection supports (more or less) the version in the Ann Arbor Journal. [The Journal, by the way, has not--as yet--posted a correction.]
So at this point, I think the conversation embedded in the original post itself is interesting. It brings up a lot of issues around recollection and reportage, or--as my husband said to me--the nuance of the conversation. I wasn't at the meeting, so I can't give you my first-person memory.
Recently, in the Ann Arbor Chronicle, Dave Askins wrote about conflicting memories of another meeting (Column: Video Replay Review for City Council). He wrote:
At issue is whether two seasons ago, back in February 2009, city of Ann Arbor CFO Tom Crawford recommended to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority that the DDA have a policy to maintain a minimum fund balance as a reserve, and specifically, whether a minimum reserve amount was specified. . .Askins argues that--just as we do in many sports--we should go to the video replay for a definitive account. Since in the business of blogging about the schools, I surely am an armchair quarterback, I absolutely agree.
The remarks made by Crawford – which everyone seems to recall (albeit differently) – took place in plain view on the public field of play, at the Feb. 17, 2009 city council meeting. (Emphasis added.)
I'm quite sure this "orientation" meeting wasn't videotaped--it wasn't a school board meeting (although regular school board meetings are.) So we now have four accounts of the same discussion. I honestly think the discussion of what happened is at least as interesting as what actually happened, so I've decided that I'm not going to retract the original post (for now--new evidence could arise!). Instead, I invite you to read it with the understanding that several people can be in the same meeting and hear different things. What does that mean for our process? I also invite you to comment on this post, or the other one.
Let's also not forget: this meeting, to provide necessary background to new school board candidates, was a good idea on the part of the school district, and I hope they continue it any time there is a contested election.