Retracting an editorial

It is our sad duty to say Saturday’s editorial was based on incorrect information and should not have been published.

The editorial, titled “Public disclosure for public grants,” said the state of New York “doesn’t even make grant applicants tell the public who they are or what they want the money for.” In fact, that is not true. We had misunderstood the process for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a $10 million pot of state economic development grants village of Saranac Lake was awarded in August.

We criticized the state harshly in that editorial, but now we realize it did nothing we consider to be wrong.

The village’s community development director, Jamie Konkoski, called us Monday morning to inform us of our error. As it turns out, we had become confused by the village and state’s separate deadlines.

The state’s application deadline hasn’t even happened yet — it’s not until Dec. 14 — so officially, there is still time for applicants we don’t know of to file. But the village, in an effort to stay ahead of the game, had set an earlier, unofficial Nov. 2 deadline.

Konkoski said three applicants had not yet finalized their real estate deals by Nov. 2 and were about to withdraw from consideration for grants, but that she — not state officials — decided to give them another few weeks to remain confidential and finish their deals before the official state deadline. Even if you think she shouldn’t have done that, it’s nowhere near as big a deal as if the state had allowed it after its deadline.

But we inaccurately thought the Nov. 2 deadline was the state’s and reported in a Nov. 9 news article that it was the state that allowed the confidentiality. We regret that error.

Konkoski said she read the Nov. 9 article, noted the inaccuracy and discussed it with state and village officials at the time, but ultimately decided the error was too small to notify the Enterprise news staff of it. She now realizes that was a mistake.

What we report often gets repeated, and people (including us) base opinions on it. Because almost all of what we report is accurate, it is trusted and considered the record of the community. That’s especially true after a week or so, since inaccuracies are almost always corrected within a few days. In this case, time passed, and we didn’t know that what we had reported was wrong until after we had editorialized on it.

We did call and email Konkoski at the village office as we wrote the editorial Friday, seeking potential updates to the situation, but we weren’t able to get a hold of her. It was the day after Thanksgiving, she was away for the holiday, and we didn’t have her cellphone number. We do now.

We at the Enterprise have a public responsibility to keep a factual record of the communities we serve, and we take that very seriously. We’re human, and we make mistakes — but it is our policy to always correct them as soon as we know we got something wrong. We never intend to deceive.

No inaccuracy is too small to correct, including the spelling of a person’s name. Please inform us of these, either by calling 518-891-2600, emailing news@adirondackdailyenterprise.com or pcrowley@adirondackdailyenterprise.com, or under “Submit News” at the top of our website.

When we correct a news article, we put a correction notice in the print edition, usually on page A3, and correct the original online version, adding a notice that the text has been corrected. When an editorial is based on incorrect information, we must retract it. Obviously we cannot retrieve print copies, but we can disavow it in an editorial such as this one. Online, we are removing Saturday’s editorial from the “editorial” and “opinion” categories but, for full disclosure, keeping it searchable on our website, topped with a retraction notice. (We’ll also link to it here.)

It’s part of cleaning up our own messes.

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