With truth comes trust

Columbiana Councilman Lowell Schloneger recently berated concerned citizens who had used the term “man camp” when referring to an 88-bed single story hotel being proposed for development at the former Lake Front Golf Course property at the north end of town.

Schloneger urged them to “please get away from the flash mob mentality,” and not to believe everything they read on Facebook and other social media sites when it comes to city matters.

We agree, getting your news entirely from social media, and believing everything you read on them as the “gospel truth,” is a dangerous way to live.

However, with some Columbiana County municipalities and with the city of Columbiana in particular, sometimes the official truth is hard to learn. Our newspaper reporters encounter this problem frequently.

The Columbiana police department is notorious for making our reporters jump through hoops to learn the details of even the most routine reports. Most other departments hand our reporters incident reports, which, by the way, we are legally entitled to, and allow them to copy the information. Not Columbiana. Our reporters are allowed only to view the police call log, which gives very vague details mostly concerning the time and nature of the call, and when they ask for more details, even something as essential as the name of the complainant, only a bit more is begrudgingly revealed. And this isn’t something that started with the current chief, this practice of revealing as little information as possible has gone on for years.

With knowledge comes trust. Perhaps if Columbiana was a little more open about things that occur within the city, people wouldn’t need to rely on Facebook which is riddled with innuendo, half-truths and outright lies. Unlike Facebook, newspapers must be held accountable and verify reports for accuracy.

A “flash mob” mentality is what occurs when you’re not forthright with your citizens regarding everything that occurs in their town.

Sure, every town has its dirty little secrets, but when nearly everything is kept under wraps, you can’t fault residents when they latch on to every bit of information, whether true or false, and sometimes blow it out of proportion.

Open up, Columbiana. If you want your residents to have reasonable reactions to new ideas instead of working themselves into a frenzy, you need to cultivate an atmosphere of trust, and you can start by giving them the truth – on all things.