If you believe that Coun. Terry Whitehead wants to fine anyone who cuts their grass diagonally, you've been had. And you're not alone.
Hammer in the News, a fake news site that satirizes current events in Hamilton, published the story "Diagonal grass cutting banned in Ward 8." Residents, not realizing it was a joke, called the Ward 8 councillor's office wanting an explanation.
The site is funny, Whitehead said. But it should have clearer disclaimers on the site and the story.
"The last few days, my staff have been fielding calls about me pursuing a bylaw on diagonal cutting," Whitehead said during a council meeting Wednesday. "And by the way, I cut my lawn diagonally."
"But nowhere does it say in the tweets or otherwise that it's a satirical site."
The story, published April 16, says Whitehead is "sick and tired of how unkempt his west Mountain ward looks."
"I looked out the window (from an airplane) down at my ward, and I see all these lines going every which way. People are cutting their lawns any way they want," it quotes Whitehead as saying, "and it's got to stop. It looks terrible."
The satire claims that Whitehead is implementing a "Go Straight" bylaw that would fine homeowners $103 unless they cut their lawn up and down or sideways.
Whitehead said he contacted the owner of Hammer in the News. He didn't ask him to remove the story because "I kind of find it funny myself," he said at a council meeting Wednesday.
"But I want him to put a disclaimer on it so people understand that it's satirical news."
As of Wednesday, the story does not have a disclaimer. The site's anonymous author, who goes by the name Farley Hammerton, said Hamilton Street Railway asked him to put up a disclaimer about his "weight-based bus fare" story too.
"They said they were inundated with calls," he said.
Whitehead did seem upset when he approached him, he said, but he's "obviously changed his stance. I'm cool with it. Who wants to be sued?"