By Scott Tibbs, March 26, 2007
The front page of yesterday's Herald Times carried a despicable and borderline libelous personal hit piece on Casey Cox, the student representative on the IU Board of Trustees. Mr. Cox is a former president of IU's student government and a former president of the IU College Republicans. He is also a friend of mine.
In his smear on Mr. Cox, so-called "reporter" Steve Hinnefeld presented no facts whatsoever regarding alleged "conflict of interest" in granting a contract to outsource the IU motor pool. Hinnefeld's article presented only speculation, gossip and rumors. Is the H-T a newspaper or a tabloid? This is something I would expect of the National Enquirer, not of the main newspaper for Monroe County.
Mr. Cox's wife is a low-level employee at Enterprise, the company that got a contract with the university. Does anyone think she will see even a single dime in extra compensation due to this deal, given her position? Furthermore, the outsourcing decision was made by the administration, not the trustees.
A true conflict of interest is when someone stands to personally benefit from a decision he/she makes. For example, a realtor who sits on the City Council cannot vote on a zoning question if the outcome will help him sell a piece of property. In that case, the realtor in question is morally obligated to recuse himself/herself. That was absolutely not the case here.
I am all in favor of questioning the trustees, and there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed regarding outsourcing of the university's services. Exploring the means that IU Trustee Tom Reilly used to advocate privatization is a completely proper and worthwhile step for the newspaper to take.
The primary focus of Hinnefeld's article, however, was on the completely fabricated "conflict of interest" involving Casey and Melissa Cox. The Herald-Times trashed a young man's character by implying that he was unethically using his position as IU trustee to benefit himself financially. That is despicable, and I personally hope that Mr. Cox sues both the H-T and Steve Hinnefeld for libel.