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Unprofessional and uncivil behavior by Sophia Travis: Part II

By Scott Tibbs, December 11, 2006

Last Tuesday, I commented on an uncivil and unprofessional e-mail sent by County Council president Sophia Travis to veteran County Council member Marty Hawk.

To review: Councilor Hawk composed an electronic mail regarding the state of county employee pay raises and the process by which those raises were put into in the county budget. Her e-mail was critical of Democrats on the County Council, but it was a political criticism. Councilor Hawk criticized the Democrats for playing games with the budget, avoiding passing a pay increase until after the election so they could brag about how low the budget was and then adding a significant increase to the budget.

Councilor Hawk's point was reasonable. The response of County Council president Sophia Travis was far from appropriate. She preceded to lord it over Hawk that she was the president of the CC while Hawk was not and crowed about how Councilor Hawk has never been the president of the CC. Councilor Travis called Councilor Hawk "narcissistic", accused her of "shameless self-promotion" and said that Councilor Hawk's letter was a "simpleton synopsis".

Local Democrats have, as I expected, leaped to the defense of Councilor Travis. Greg Travis, posting under the pseudonym "mimicus" on the Monroe-Bloomington-Talk discussion forum, argued that his wife responded "personally to Hawk in a private email to her", ignoring the fact that his wife posted the exchange on her blog.

Greg Travis later argues that "(t)he original was not meant for public consumption, so it shouldn't be characterized as a public statement." This is mind-numbingly stupid. How could a post by Sophia Travis on a publicly-accessible Web site be anything but a public statement? She made it a public statement when she posted it on her blog.

Don Moore, posting under the pseudonym "Louie" on the same forum, wrote: "Why does ST feel entitled to intrude upon private conversations." (Don Moore is the husband of Bloomington City Clerk Regina Moore, who is up for re-election in 2007.) How is a post on a web site a "private conversation"? Once an article has been posted on the web, the author loses all right to claim that the words contained therein are "private", even if the text being posted is an email sent by the author.

Moore goes on to say "This is not the first time that he injected his opinions regarding what was intended as private." He is most likely referring to my reporting four years ago on messages posted to the Green Party e-mail list. Each and every one of those messages were viewable on a publicly accessible Web site by anyone with a Yahoo ID. It is unfortunate that Moore has decided to use dishonesty as a means of responding to a criticism of an Democratic elected official.

Some have argued that Councilor Travis was not calling Councilor Hawk "narcissistic" at all. I disagree. That statement, carbon-copied to other members of the County Council and posted on Pin The Tail, was clearly meant to smear Councilor Hawk. While Democrats complain that Councilor Hawk forwarded the uncivil and unprofessional email from Councilor Travis to a county attorney, it was Sophia Travis who proceeded to broadcast the message on her Web site.

Greg Travis claimed on December 5 that Councilor Hawk did not point out that the County Option Income Tax revenues were higher than projections, but the Herald-Times reported four months ago that Councilor Hawk did just that. Even with the County Auditor's confirmation that COIT monies would be higher than expected, the Democrat-led County Council chose not to pass a raise for county employees until after the election.

It is unfortunate that so many Leftists here in Monroe County are unable to distinguish between a political criticism and a personal attack. One can "hit back" when criticized without making it personal. Councilor Travis would go on to criticize Councilor Hawk's own record at County Council meetings on a follow-up post at Pin The Tail. This is reasonable. Had Councilor Travis criticized Councilor Hawk politically this never would have been an issue. Sadly, she chose to behave just as her husband does.

This is something to remember in 2008.