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Who Implied That Toppers Might Move Its Headquarters? Whitewater’s City Manager, That’s Who

In a Janesville Gazette story from 12.5, Whitewater’s city manager, Cameron Clapper, is reported as saying that another paper’s coverage incorrectly implied that Toppers Pizza might move its Whitewater headquarters. In fact, the video of a recent Community Development Authority (CDA) meeting from 11.21.19 reveals that it was Clapper, himself, who implied that Toppers might move. (See the video embedded above for the relevant portion of the meeting, transcribed below. The full meeting video is also available online.)

Here’s a transcription of what Clapper said at the meeting about Toppers Pizza:

Clapper: So only a couple of things I have additional to add at this meeting. In prior meetings I had mentioned that I had been playing, I think I’ve mentioned, I’ve had some phone tag with the owner of Toppers Pizza.

I left a message again anticipating this meeting this week, and am waiting for a response back to meet with him and go over future plans for Toppers Pizza in the area. And just essentially just a business retention expansion visit.

But we know that the building has changed owners and so…

Stanek: Is that related to the grocery store?

(Crosstalk)

Stanek: Potentially?

Clapper: It is potentially related to the grocery store. If Toppers wants to not be there anymore, that is a potential location perhaps where we might be looking…

Stanek: It was a grocery store at one time.

In the Gazette story, Clapper is reported to have said that another paper’s account raised a wrong implication:

Clapper pointed to another news outlet’s recent coverage, which he said incorrectly implied Toppers Pizza could leave its headquarters and open a space that might interest a grocer.

The city manager emphasized he has no reason to think the pizza chain will do anything but stay where it is.

That’s not right – Clapper implied Toppers might depart, as his remarks on 11.21.19 plainly show. The other paper (the Register) did not make a mistake – Clapper is accusing that other paper of error simply for reporting his own public comments.

The worthy course for Whitewater’s city manager would have been to admit that he wrongly implied a business departure; it’s not right to blame the Register for his own plain words.

As for the Gazette’s reporter, he’s turned in another disappointing story by failing to hold an official accountable for that official’s own words. (When I wrote about the Gazette story yesterday, it seemed weak, but now it’s evidently negligent.)

As always – the best record of public meetings is a recording. Without that solid source to verify officials’ statements, minimal & verifiable accountability would be replaced with official excuse-making and journalistic negligence.

4 comments for “Who Implied That Toppers Might Move Its Headquarters? Whitewater’s City Manager, That’s Who

  1. Attendee
    12/06/2019 at 12:30 PM

    Proves your points about needing good recordings. This is twice as necessary since we have bad newspaper coverage. These guys are phoning it in. Guess you aren’t a fan of Gazette or Register but kudos for calling it like you see it (like it is).

  2. sh
    12/06/2019 at 1:36 PM

    someone kept his receipts. nice work, blogger john adams. how super sad the Gazette can’t cover for Whitewater city hall when it wants.

  3. JOHN ADAMS
    12/06/2019 at 2:56 PM

    Many residents would like (understandably) a local grocery, and a smaller number are insistent (unreasonably) about it. Government hasn’t provided a grocer, and even extravagant government efforts to subsidize one likely wouldn’t be enough to keep a government-aided establishment going.

    The better course is to be direct – the market conditions are weak and they’re not going to improve simply because people keep asking. Instead, officials try to appease those making repeated demands.

    A candid reply, however, would not only disappoint residents but would also infuriate local development gurus whose economic development gains have been wildly exaggerated. To be honest is to admit that these last decades amounted to far less than a few self-promoting locals have claimed.

    No matter – the better practice with residents of whatever kind is candor.

  4. MB
    12/06/2019 at 6:18 PM

    The video/transcript speaks powerfully. It’s sad that the newspaper story shows no follow up.