Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tauy Creek Digest #19: The City Band Concert

Rebekah Ames walked with Ely Jones into Garfield Park where the annual city band concert was about to commence. She had a camera around her neck while Ely had a notepad and pen in his left hand. Every year the city band concert drew hundreds of people. It had started out small but had grown to become an all-day festival with vendors, games, contests, and many other things to see and do.

"So we're just here to get some pictures and some quotes?" Rebekah asked. Rebekah had just graduated to be a photojournalist and she was hired by her local newspaper to be the photographer for the lighter side of the city. Ely had been with the paper for several years and was doing the same thing but he wanted to do it. Rebekah wanted to be a featured photographer going to crime scenes and political events but knew she had to work her up to get there.

"Yep. Just get pictures of people having fun. I'm going to grab some quotes from people and describe the scenery and then we can just enjoy the concert," Ely said.

Rebekah began taking pictures of children playing, couples sitting on blankets, people eating, and crowds. She also got pictures of the gazebo where the concert would be held and scenic views of the park to showcase the beautiful day. She took down the names of the individuals that she photographed into a note-taking app on her phone and quickly typed down possible captions for the pictures. As the sun went down and the concert began, she took pictures of the band on the gazebo and even went up on the gazebo to get a picture of the crowd.

Her pictures were going to be showcased in a two page spread in the middle of the local section of the paper. Each page would have five pictures surrounding text that Ely had written. She spent the next couple of hours at the newspaper, editing and formatting the pictures she took and trying to decide which ten of the nearly one hundred she took would be included. The ones she chose featured kids with their face painted or eating, a couple crowd shots with the limestone courthouse and red brick city hall in the background, two men shaking hands with big smiles on their faces in front of a crowd of people, a shot of the band from the gazebo looking over the crowd and pictures that gave you a sense of what the atmosphere was like. She sent the information she had for each picture and went home for the night.

The next morning, Rebekah arrived at work and saw the newsroom bustling. She took a copy of the newspaper that staffers got for free and went to her desk to look at the spread from the concert. As she began opening the paper, the editor came up to her desk. "Rebekah, did you know what was going on when you took that picture?"

Rebekah raised an eyebrow. "What picture? From the concert?"

The editor took the paper from her and laid the spread out on her desk and pointed to the picture of two guys shaking hands. "That's city councilman Geoffrey Farmer shaking hand with local developer Doug Hopkins."

"I know. Ely told me because I forgot to grab their names," Rebekah said. "What about them?"

"We got a call this morning that they were shaking hands because they just made a deal for Hopkins to buy property over on 17th Street to build a hotel and commercial plaza. Hopkins is going to ask the city council tonight for tax abatements. The property is owned by a relative of Farmer's and Farmer stands to gain a tidy profit from the sale and investment into Hopkins idea."

"Wouldn't this be like Farmer taking a bribe? Or close to it anyway?" Rebekah asked.

"Yeah," he nodded. "And you got proof."

"I didn't hear them talk about anything though," Rebekah said. "I just took a picture of two guys enjoying the park."

"The caller told us and we looked into it. Everyone we talked to basically said the same thing. Hopkins was going to massively overpay for the property, Farmer was going to get a small profit from his relative from the sale, Farmer was also going to convince the rest of the council to approve the tax abatements, Hopkins wouldn't have to pay taxes on that property, Farmer would then invest in the plaza, and both parties make a decent amount of money. And you took the picture that will damage both of their reputations."

The editor was ecstatic and walked away. Rebekah just stared and then looked back at the picture. "It was just a city band concert..."