By Scott Tibbs, October 12, 2009
A couple weeks ago, a "scandal" broke after it was discovered that an executive of Hylant Group of Bloomington had sent an email containing some offensive images of President Barack Obama, comparing him to Adolf Hitler and depicting him urinating on a map of the United States. That same weekend, Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan declared that the city of Bloomington would no longer be using Hylant as a vendor.
First, the e-mail was irresponsible and stupid. There's a good reason that so many corporations have policies governing personal use of employer-provided resources such as e-mail. Had the e-mail been sent from a personal account, it would be one thing. That wasn't the case, as the email came from an official Hylant e-mail address with a company signature. Some of the images, such as Obama urinating on the United States, were over the top.
But here's the problem. Like it or not, these kinds of emails circulate around the Internet all the time. Are we to expect that the city of Bloomington is going to cut ties with any vendor where an executive sent a questionable or offensive e-mail joke? There have been many offensive images created and distributed mocking and attacking George W. Bush over the last decade. In fact, Monroe County Democratic Party Headquarters featured an image of George W. Bush with his pants on fire during the 2004 election. That image is at the bottom of this post.
Should we begin to search through the e-mail servers for city government, county government, and MCCSC for similar e-mails with offensive images? Perhaps elected officials, from the Mayor, City Council, County Council and MCCSC School Board should be the first to volunteer the contents of their e-mail inboxes.
The city's decision to cut ties with Hylant was a purely political decision meant to satisfy the demands of Democratic Party activists who fervently support President Obama. Decisions on what vendor should help the city deal with insurance matters should be made on the basis of what is best for the taxpayers, not based on political considerations and a desire to appease the Mayor's Democratic activist base. It's a ridiculous overreaction.