Wrongness Addressed

After 15 months of writing Darhlene.com with nary a gaffe, I was made to eat my words twice in the past two weeks. It was a first in my annals of horrifying possibilities.

I was taken to task by a commissioner for an error. I was horrified, not at the commissioner’s rebuke of my numbers, but at the possibility that I had published a humongous factual error, fatal in my mind’s eye.

I was so embarrassed about the possibility that I may have gotten the most important fact in my story so majorly wrong that I pulled the entire article off the site for review, and went to work to figure out my wrongness. What I ended up with was even more confusing than the numbers I had when I started.

I had alleged that 1,948 people in the city had voted for the 2016 medical marijuana measure known as Amendment Two. Fellows said I was wrong because I had obtained these numbers from the State of Florida Elections Division (not a good sign), calculated my numbers by voting location when I should have been calculating by precinct (oh, dear), and didn’t use Polk County numbers. In addition Fellows didn’t think it was even possible that there were 1,948 people in the city who ever voted. (OMG.) So I went back to researching “the dark web” that is voting information in Florida.

The City of Davenport covers exactly two precincts: 404 and 405. That much is clear. What is not is that there appears to be two sets of numbers, the state and the county, for the same group of voters, and they’re vastly different from each other.

Voter counts from Florida and Polk differ.
Voter counts from Florida and Polk differ by about three-percentage points.

For example, if you take numbers from the state of Florida, 68% of constituents voted for Amendment Two. If you take the county numbers, however, their figure is more like 71%, a stunning 3% difference. Depending on whose numbers you use, we had anywhere from 1,201 votes cast in Davenport to as many as 3,525 for the same exact two precincts.

I was right and I was wrong. Likewise, so was Fellows, who showed a side of him that’s been increasingly noticed by fellow Davenportians. (Pun intended.) Over the past couple of years, Fellows has been working background on supporting the arts, the Easter Egg Hunt at Jared-Gordon, and the improvements at Jamestown Park, and has shown that his temperament is one of compassion towards his constituents.

When I realized that I may have had my numbers wrong, my first horrified thought was, “Shit. I’m going to have to apologize to a commissioner.” Apologizing has got to be one of the hardest things for us humans to do, and I was getting ready to face my reality, that I had gotten a part of my story wrong, and that the person I was going to have to apologize to is among the most important in town. (Seriously, Darh?)

But, Fellows beat me to the punch. While he dressed me down at one meeting, he found it in his heart to admit at the next that he was wrong too. Fellows apologized to me in front of everybody. (Whoa! Did this really happen? Where am I?)

character is how you treat those who can do nothing for youWeed aside, my second great gaffe came in the form of a prediction I had published that didn’t come to pass. As it turns out, during Fellows’ apology, he mentioned that he reads my blog, for which I am truly tickled with honor. Then he giggled and almost whispered, “I’ve been hearing a buzz … I enjoy some of the things you say in there,” as I’m thinking, “Oh, Jesus, what have I done? Note to self: Review blog for bad things I’ve said about commissioners.”

Then, I realized that it may have been that prediction that I had published that killed my prediction, which was that commissioners would permanently ban medical marijuana dispensaries at their April 2nd meeting. They didn’t.

Instead, someone important read my research, challenged me, then met me in the middle. They really didn’t ban “all things marijuana.” Instead, they tabled the issue and are planning to reopen discussion on the topic sometime in the future.

So, I was wrong again, something I call it my Rachel Maddow moment, too many for me to count. I admit when I am wrong, correct my error, and move on. I think one day I must thank Fellows for contesting those numbers.

My writing matters a lot to me. Votes and voices apparently mean a lot to Fellows. Between reading, writing, and research, apparently, in Davenport, votes still do matter. (Well, maybe, not to the state and county, but that’s nothing more than yummy fodder for another story.)

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