Since I wasn’t contacted for the Journal Star’s recent story about the error in one of my cartoons, I’ll give my comment here.
Early last month, the Journal Star ran a story in which city councilmember Jon Camp was being very tough on WRK, a development team that has a lot of projects in Lincoln and wants to start more. Camp suggested WRK was failing to deliver what they promised to the city. According to the story, Camp said WRK promised 43 new jobs at their Sawmill Building project, “…but by his count, it only created three; he said most of the jobs just relocated from other Lincoln sites.”
A few weeks later, Deena Winter’s weekly City Hall column included a piece on how nobody knew where that claim came from.
Problem is, Urban Development officials don’t know where Camp got that promise, or his figures; the only figure relating to jobs in the city’s redevelopment agreement with WRK was a projection that the Sawmill Building could eventually house 85 employees.
The Journal Star asked Camp to provide documentation of his claim WRK promised 48 new jobs, but he was unable to do so.
The story later told how Camp criticized WRK’s plans to build a hotel in the Haymarket, which he had tried to do “a year or two ago.”
Using figures that he couldn’t back up in order to make a competing developer look bad was something that caught my eye, and I worked that into a cartoon.
Well later in July, Camp found the document from which he had taken WRK’s claim. Deena Winter reported on that again in her City Hall column.
In response, on July 22 Camp provided documentation to support his contention — a document WRK’s attorney, Kent Seacrest, handed to council members during a March council meeting.
The document was drafted by WRK after the council asked for tax revenue and job projections.
The document does indicate 48 jobs could be created by the Sawmill project, although Camp wrote on the document that Seacrest indicated “half or more” of those were existing jobs.
So I was completely wrong and off-base when I said Camp “…fabricated the numbers he used…” and for that, I most definitely apologize and retract the accusation that Camp fabricated those numbers.
As Winter’s column pointed out, WRK promised 48 jobs at the Sawmill project, approximately half of which would be new. Meanwhile, the Sawmill building now houses approximately 100 employees, 36 of which are new positions. Camp said there were three.
Like I said, I was absolutely in the wrong to claim Camp “fabricated” the numbers. What I should have said is that Camp “completely misrepresented the situation by exponentially understating the number of jobs created in order to make it appear as if WRK failed to live up to promises, when in fact WRK had greatly exceeded those promises.”
I am very embarrassed for the mistake and I hope this helps clarify the situation.