Let me go on record saying that the good benefits of social media far outweigh the bad but there are times I personally feel that it can do some real harm. Such was the case last week prior to the countywide special election regarding funding for the repair or construction of a jail facility in Phillips County.

Let me go on record saying that the good benefits of social media far outweigh the bad but there are times I personally feel that it can do some real harm. Such was the case last week prior to the countywide special election regarding funding for the repair or construction of a jail facility in Phillips County.

The people have spoken, though the 1,062 ballots is a small reflection of the registered voters in our county. This is the democratic process and I accept that. The problem I am having is that the social media platform was used to disseminate some misinformation about what was at stake and that was wrong.

Some dialogue was spread on Facebook that the proposition was a request for a five percent sales tax increase and that would increase tax on purchased items up in the neighborhood of 18 percent. The truth is the sales tax increase called for 0.5 percent increase, or one-half of a cent. I am a little confused myself as to exactly where we do stand when it comes to sales tax but it is somewhere between 10 and 12 percent, meaning the tax would have jumped to 10.5 or 12.5 percent and not 17 or 18 percent as incorrectly reported.

Do your math. There is a big difference between one-half percent and five percent. While it is despicable to spread untruths and misinformation, the whole blame doesn’t fall on the shoulders of those spreading the lies. Voters have a responsibility to check out information before making a decision on such important issues.

I understand the people’s concern about a seemingly always-increasing tax burden, particularly on the working class. Several civic leaders approached me about their concern over yet another sales tax increase. One said, “The people are already burdened enough with excessive taxes.”

So, where are we now? We are still without a solution to funding jail repairs or construction. There are almost no other financial options available.

Crime is the most serious problem facing this area of the Delta. And we have no place to incarcerate those who are creating all of the mayhem.  At this point, I also would like to address another problem regarding misinformation through the social media. To set the record straight, the woes of the Phillips County jail fell directly in the lap of newly elected Sheriff Neal Byrd back in 2013. The responsibility of the deplorable conditions at the jail occurred on the watch of a previous administration.

The real truth is that Phillips County residents should have never been faced with the problem of jail neglect in the first place.

Meanwhile, all Phillips County and Helena-West Helena prisoners are being transported back and forth to jails in neighboring counties. The expense is enormous. How long can the local taxpayers continue to carry this burden? How long can these nearby jails have the space to house Phillips County’s riff-raff.

The Helena World did every thing within its power to get out the needed and proper information to help voters make an intelligent decision at the polls. It is more than a little frustrating, to have efforts undermined by half-truths and out-and-out lies floating around on social media.

Social media is fine for conversing with friends and family and engaging in lively discussions about social issues of the day. I even encourage it. But please, please check out the facts from “reliable sources” before making important voting decisions.

As Dragnet’s Joe Friday once said, “Nothing but the facts ma’am.”