You don't have to tell a guy who has spent his professional life as a street reporter the difference between perception and reality.
Every day we're asked to wade through the spin, the misconceptions, the petty jealousies to get to, as Jack Webb would famously say; "Just the facts, ma'am."
But just as we have to understand the difference between the two we must also understand the power that exists when perception BECOMES reality, that somehow you can will a belief into becoming real just by saying it often enough.
I can't help but feel that's what happening this week as Erie City Council member Joe Schember submits his resignation, citing the "distraction" that comes with the uproar over his position on the dais and as a vice president of PNC Bank.
In recent months PNC has been asking some officers to step down from public life; whether that's a set policy or a concern about time commitments or there are other reasons isn't clear.
What is clear is that the company did not make that request of Schember, which raised some eyebrows over why some executives would be treated differently than others.
As a major financial institution in town, PNC Bank does a lot of business with the City, and it is a legitimate concern to have a member of council who must abstain from a lot of key votes.
But because a guy works for a bank doesn't mean that corporate interests are being placed above public ones, no matter how often you go to the podium to pound that message.
The bottom line is that PNC Bank has the right to hold different employees to different standards.
That in itself does not constitute malfeasance.
The bottom line is that the City loses access to one of the top financial minds in public service, not because of wrongdoing, not because of the hint of wrongdoing, but because of the perception of wrongdoing brought about by a select few banging the gong so loudly and so often that people just start believing that something's there.
Where there's smoke, there's fire right?
There are those tonight who see victory in bringing about Joe Schember's resignation.
I'm not one of them.