Dear Lake Norman Citizen-
Over the past several weeks we’ve made an earnest effort to bring the HOT lane issue to the public’s attention. We’ve cited references extensively, shown where our numbers come from and freely admit it when we don’t know something.
Yet you continue to pillory a citizen’s group that has no other agenda except to stop what it sees as a terrible thing about to happen to their community.
We held an information session and over 100 people showed up. Though we cannot recall a time when this has ever happened before, your reportage led with Congressman Bill Brawley’s comments. You editorialized saying “a hush fell over the crowd” when he spoke, as if we were hearing the transportation equivalent of the Beatitudes when in reality people strained to listen because the gentleman did not have a microphone.
You failed to print letters to the editor regarding your mis-characterization of the meeting. You failed to report the positive exchange between wideni77 and the NCDOT.
You got your facts wrong in your sneering editorial when you mis-reported Mark Washburn of the Charlotte Observer never gets up to the Lake Norman area. He lives here.
You’ve already been found to be in the tank for HOT lanes by another knowledgeable source.
When we questioned your objectivity to a commissioner, you sent out this email (in part) to all of the town commissioners and mayors (without bothering to cc us):
I do not believe in activist journalism. We have done extensive research on what our obligation is to cite everyone’s “side” of the equation, and frankly, while the widenI77.org group does have some valid points, they get lost in the rhetoric and blatant falsehoods that have been publicly represented. I don’t discredit them. They discredit themselves with their approach.
Through all of this, in the interest of maintaining a positive tone, we have not responded.
It’s one thing to go behind our back. But when you report in your newspaper that we stated it would cost over $300M to widen a five mile stretch of road, and call our credibility- and earnestness- into question, we must respond.
In our presentation (I-77 Info Session) we stated phase 1 of the problem is adding a lane from exit 23 to 28 (slide 4). We stated the cost to widen from 23- 28 is ~$50M (slides 4, 13, and 15). But the HOT lane plan, lardered up with all kinds of other improvements including widening lanes in downtown Charlotte, will end up costing over $300M for the Mecklenburg portion. Thus, the state- and Lake Norman commuters- will end up spending over $300M to fix a $50M problem (slide 13). Apparently, in your zeal to promote HOT lanes, you missed that logic.
You brag about the “extensive research” you’ve done but have never emailed us with any questions (unlike your competition). You could have asked to meet with us. You could have asked questions during the information session. You could have done any number of things in the interest of honest journalism before you published your article. But you didn’t.
We think you owe us an apology.
The irony is your paper bills itself as “your town, your newspaper,” and calls itself the Lake Norman Citizen.
Here’s to better understanding,
A Citizen’s Group