If there's one thing I've learned from quite a few years of delving into goings-on at the City of Salem, it is that often what city officials claim to be true, actually isn't.
Sure, sometimes that discrepancy can be attributed to a honest mistake. However, I know for a fact that sometimes City of Salem staff purposely shade the truth in a CYA (Cover Your Ass) fashion.
Lying is a blunter term than "shade the truth," of course.
As I've written about in two previous blog posts (here and here), how the Salem Police Department handled a May 1 gun rally at Riverfront Park where the gun-toting violent right-wing insurrectionist Proud Boys provided "security" left a lot to be desired, to put it mildly.
A statement issued by the Police Department said "the City of Salem did not issue a permit for the event due to pandemic restrictions. Parks, however, remain open for public use on a first-come first-served basis."
Well, it sure seems that this excuse for why a permit wasn't issued isn't true. I'll explain.
Up until April 30, the day before the May 1 gun rally, a City of Salem web page said that permits are being accepted for outdoor events in parks occurring May 1, 2021 or after. But on April 30 the permit date was changed to May 31 -- taking away the need for the gun rally to have a permit.
Salem City Councilor Tom Andersen said in a post-rally KMUZ interview that the reason for this last-minute change was a "typo" on the web page. Namely, that a "3" was omitted from May 1, which should have been May 31.
UPDATE: A commenter on this post just left a great observation that I'd somehow missed. This seemingly puts to rest the "typo" explanation.
If it was truly a typo then why did they set the end of the “open use” period to April 30th? If it was a typo it should state no permit required through May 30th and on May 1 [typo should be 31st] permits will be required.
So that explanation, which I assume Andersen got from a city official, had nothing to do with pandemic restrictions. That makes the Police Department statement wrong, but not outrageously wrong.
Hey, I'm a writer.
I hate typos, though I make them frequently. I find typos on government web sites all the time, so at first resonated with that explanation for the April 30 change to the date a permit was required from May 1 to May 31.
However, I was curious how long this supposed "typo" had been hanging out on the City of Salem web page.
I decided to fire up the Internet Archive Way Back Machine. Below is a screenshot of how that City of Salem web page appeared on September 19, 2020 and March 27, 2021.
Who authorized the March 27 change to the City of Salem web page saying that a permit/reservation was needed for a park event to be held May 1 or after? Is there documentation of what date was given to the web page editor, May 1 or May 31?
Who authorized the April 30 change to the City of Salem web page changing the effective date for a required permit/reservation to May 31? Is there documentation of why this change was made on that particular date, since it was the day before the Proud Boys gun rally on May 1?