Opinion

Howling Wolf coverage was biased, sloppy

I had begun to think the Port Orchard Independent was trying to be a quality newspaper. Suffice it to say I was less than impressed with the veracity of the July 16 “In Our Opinion” editorial about my Howling Wolf Amphitheatre. Note that no one at the Howling Wolf was contacted either prior to the July 9 inaccurate article by Elizabeth Williams or prior to the above noted condemning editorial.

The first was sloppy news reporting; the second was sloppy editorializing. I’d like to clarify several things and put some others in proper perspective. Taking it from the top of the editorial: First, the day in question was Saturday, June 28, not Wednesday, June 28.

Second, the police in the person of Chief Al Townsend talked to me and the two promoters that evening. No police officer talked to any band or went up to the amphitheatre stage at any time. (No one was hauled off the stage.)

One of the promoters did start to argue First Amendment rights. I immediately, and in front of Chief Townsend, let the promoter know the Howling Wolf was not going to get into that argument.

Third, “The concert proceeded, according to Townsend, with no change in volume or content.” This is blatantly false. The promoter, the sound board operator and I made sure no more profanity occurred that night or the next day, Sunday. Think about it: Chief Townsend made it clear that if it reoccurred, we would be shut down. We weren’t shut down. No profanity reoccurred.

The fourth bit of hyperbole suggested that the “Howling Wolf can’t control his customers when the police are present” is a pathetic misrepresentation. It sounds like the same overblown hyperbole heard from one neighbor lady at the July 14 public hearing. (This is the same person who made the wild accusations and had the prejudicially edited video at the September 2000 City Council meeting.) “The Howling Wolf Amphitheatre has been a continuing problem ever since the September 2000 event” with “Guntruck.” Really?

The Howling Wolf operated for the first two summers, 1999 and 2000, without any significant problems, until the event in September 2000. Since then, the Amphitheatre has been operating under the control of temporary-use permits issued individually in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

There were no problems sufficient to preclude the city’s issuing these permits or the specific dance, amusement and entertainment licenses required until the June 28 event.

This is not to say some folks don’t want the Amphitheatre to operate, period. I got a telephone call in mid-May starting to complain about our music. When told we weren’t operating and weren’t scheduled to open until Memorial Day weekend, the woman replied, “Well, I thought I heard music.”

Councilman Robert Geiger’s traffic speeding analogy is specious and somewhat obscure: the Amphitheatre operated in 1999 and 2000 and got a “speeding ticket” in September of 2000, operated in 2001, 2002 and the start of 2003 and got a second “speeding ticket.”

We need to keep a sense of proportion here, particularly when, unlike the vehicle driver who only has himself to consider, I have to control entirely independent and free-spirited entities.

Hyperbole, blatant overstatement and one-sided reporting are all part and parcel. They are a lie intended to further a specific position. The Port Orchard Independent should be ashamed. Its slanted reporting in this instance is far more despicable and harmful to the community than the sorry profanity briefly heard from the Howling Wolf Amphitheatre stage.

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