We welcome -- even encourage -- different voices and viewpoints on our Opinion page. You might have noticed a number of Guest Opinions published over the past several weeks in this space.
Our editorial board, though, owes you an apology in regard to the July 2 Guest Opinion written by resident David Pascualy concerning Leadership Pleasanton. It contained inaccurate factual information, and some pretty inflammatory statements were made based on that information.
Pascualy's motivation for the Guest Opinion is laudable.
"The goal of my Guest Opinion submission was to express my concerns about Leadership classes that are expensive, almost impossible to attend if you work during the day, and that the program is supported by my tax dollars," he wrote in a subsequent email.
That's a fair and logical opinion.
Where our editorial board failed was that we didn't question a few assertions that were presented as fact in the Guest Opinion. After publication, we were alerted that some factual elements may have been incorrect, so we started seeking new information.
In addition to doing our own research, we reached out to Pascualy for a response as the author, and he became defensive and argumentative. This sent up red flags that should have gone up pre-publication.
We found the Guest Opinion relied on an outdated contract from 2018 signed by the former chamber CEO, Scott Raty. This led to one of Pascualy's main points about selection of program participants being left solely to the chamber being false. One of the other key inaccurate statements was that city employees do most of the work for the program and most meetings are held at city facilities.
As journalists, if we allow inaccurate, misleading or false information to be published as fact (even within an opinion piece), we need to acknowledge it and set the record straight as soon as possible. The author said he stood by his statements, so we tried to arrange a meeting to discuss the points and counterpoints.
Unfortunately, after weeks of an email exchange, it became clear a timely meeting would not come to fruition. But this also allowed time for our reporter to research and write a comprehensive news story on the debate over Leadership Pleasanton oversight, which published this week. We apologize that it took us so long to bring this to your attention, but we needed to do our due diligence.
Acknowledging mistakes takes maturity and humility, but it can teach valuable lessons to the people and news organizations who have the strength and professionalism to do so.
Going forward we commit to more thoroughly reviewing statements presented as fact in Guest Opinions. This means we will no longer accept a Guest Opinion submitted less than 10 days before publication to allow adequate time for such a review.