Correcting the facts

The Jan. 5 edition of the San Juan Journal contained one of the most appalling pieces of sloppy, irresponsible journalism I’ve ever seen. What’s worse, it was in the “Top Stories of 2021” so it was repeating a story from last November that was totally inaccurate when it was first published. Apparently, no one at the Journal figured out in the past several weeks that it was totally wrong.

I’m referring to “top story” #8 which claimed “EMS and fire merges.” It went on to compound the problem by including an interview with successful fire commissioner candidate Dwight Colley which implied that Colley agreed that the merger had occurred. I can attest that Dwight Colley, unlike the Journal staff, knows full well that the Fire levy failed and the agencies did not and are not going to merge.

Here are the facts:

• The Fire levy, to fund the takeover of EMS, needed 60 percent voter approval. It failed.

• The Public Hospital District Commission (PHDC), heeding the will of the voters, terminated its memorandum of understanding with Fire to pursue integration. (Prompting an enormous sigh of relief from a great many of us.)

• The PHDC has put its own levy on the February 8 ballot. It will renew the existing six-year levy that funds EMS. The current levy expires next December. The new levy will increase by seven cents per thousand of assessed value to cover increased EMS costs.

• EMS will continue to stand alone to provide the excellent professional emergency medical services we have come to expect.

If it has not already done so the Journal needs to print a clear, prominently displayed correction stating the facts above.

Finally, there is a large amount of misinformation and disinformation being put forward in the local papers and on social media regarding the defunct merger, the PHDC and the EMS levy. Most of it is coming from the same three malicious individuals. If you want reliable factual information contact one of your elected PHDC members or Nathan Butler, the EMS Superintendent. They will tell you the truth.

Richard Grout

Friday Harbor