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Question credibility, corroboration before condemnation

Uploaded: Jul 26, 2017

It had all the elements of a juicy story – undue influence, discrimination, big guy vs little guy….

The only thing missing was proof.

Randall Frost of Pleasanton wrote on the Pleasanton Weekly Town Square July 15 and submitted a letter to the editor in which he stated a local event venue and winery was pressuring the City to relocate a taco truck because the patrons were, according to Frost, “working class Latino people.”

The Society of Professional Journalists code states four guiding principles for professional journalists: Seek Truth and Report It; Minimize Harm; Act Independently; Be Accountable and Transparent.

We have to ask questions to determine credibility of the source and corroborate the information, so it not coming from just one source. We do this to minimize harm, like damaging the reputation of organizations and individuals with false information (to the point we had to remove a Town Square comment about burning down the building of the accused complainant).

To “seek truth and report it,” we contacted city officials, Casa Real representatives and Frost. Melody O’Shea, COO of Beets Hospitality, the management company that operates Casa Real, said, “We’re so upset about that. Our culture, who we are, our employees, and our values are all about accepting diversity. We patronize the taco truck. We’ve used them for our holiday parties and our employees have used them personally. This has always been about congestion.”

To “be accountable and transparent,” and so you better understand our being very leery of villainizing Casa Real based on claims from one unverified source, we will share our email questions to Frost, and his responses:
We cannot find anyone to corroborate your statement that: "...the City was working with Casa Real to force Nelly to move. On making further inquiries I was told that someone from Casa Real had said the reason they wanted the truck moved is that the people who bought food at the truck did not wear the right kinds of clothes to satisfy the operators of Casa Real---in other words, they were working class Latino people...” We were told by the city that it was because of concern for the safety of drivers and Nelly's patrons that the truck was relocated. This seems like a plausible concern considering the construction at that location. It would also explain why the location of the truck was fine for 18 years, until the construction started close to that area. Do you have any documentation, such as an email, to corroborate that a city official said a Casa Real representative said they wanted the truck moved because the patrons "did not wear the right kinds of clothes" or something similar to that? Was that city official (Senior Code Enforcer Mark) Dennis? If not, who was it?
Also, (we) understand you are a freelance writer and have written pieces on marketing and branding. Did you consider that saying "I spoke to my attorney about this case and he noted that often in cases like these, the situation is such that someone (e.g., representing Casa Real) who supports the City or members therein gets special favors for the support..." and ".... “Here you have someone with some influence in the city forcing someone to do something that’s not right – vacate public property..." might damage the reputations of Casa Real, the city, Dennis and (Casa Real’s Eric) Callahan without cause if the issue was, indeed, safety?
If this all happened the end of June, with the demand to move being given June 30, why did you not bring this to the public until July 15?
Finally, are you satisfied with the outcome as reported in (another website) that Casa Real is working with Nelly's to find a suitable location in which both businesses can thrive?

His responses:
“Lo siento pero no hablo con periodistas” (I’m sorry, I don’t talk to reporters.)
“Lo siento, pero no te conozco. No hablo con extraños.” (I’m sorry, I don’t know you. I don’t talk to strangers.)
After being told the questions were asked by professional journalists from the Pleasanton Weekly:
“Ya veo. Sin embargo, no considero que Pleasanton Weekly sea una fuente de noticias professional.” (I see. However, I do not consider Pleasanton Weekly to be a professional news source.)

These responses, or lack thereof, speak for themselves in terms of credibility of source and proof, or the lack thereof.
They also speak of a need to ask questions and think critically before accepting statements as fact.