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A shameful cover-up by the Herald-Times

By Scott Tibbs, June 28, 2012

What would you say about a so-called "newspaper" that actively covers up the political activity of a member of the county economic development commission as well as the political connections of at-large candidates for county council?

Greg Travis, who was appointed to the Monroe County Economic Development Commission by the Monroe County Council in 2005, posts on HeraldTimesOnline.com as "Nitpick." His wife, Sophia Travis, voted for his appointment, and she is running to reclaim her seat on the county council in the November election. I am not permitted to say this on the Herald-Times website, as my post will be deleted. The Herald-Times is protecting Mr. Travis' anonymity, so he can say what he wishes without being held accountable by name for what he says.

This is simply shameful. You have a person in a position of authority in county government who is spewing filth in HTO comments and the so-called "newspaper" is protecting his identity. His wife (Sophia Travis) voted to place him in that position of authority, and the so-called "newspaper" is covering up her political connections - after all, her husband is her most enthusiastic supporter.

This is why anonymity should not be permitted on HTO. Public officials and candidates for elective office should not be allowed to hide behind a fake name to escape accountability for what they say in a public forum. By fiercely protecting Greg Travis' identity on HTO, the Herald-Times is engaged in a cover-up, plain and simple. It is a shameful dereliction of duty by a "newspaper" that is supposed to hold the powerful accountable for their behavior.

But that is not all. Greg Travis posted the following under his "Nitpick" handle:

My wife is one of the 129 million americans who cannot get health insurance, at any price, because of a pre-existing condition.

In a very bizarre letter to the editor in April, Greg Travis whined that he had "paid out $4,200 in health insurance premiums" over three months. County Council members have access to the county's health insurance plan, and Sophia Travis is running for County Council. After this comment, a reputable newspaper would ask the obvious question - is Sophia Travis running for elective office so that she can have access to the county's health insurance plan? Given his whining about it, this is a legitimate question.

Of course, the so-called "newspaper" petulantly refuses to address the question of whether Sophia Travis is running for office in bad faith, so I don't expect them to ask a logical follow-up question. The fact that a candidate's spouse is looking for employment in another state raises serious questions about whether she will complete her term and whether she is running for office knowing she probably won't complete her term.

The behavior of the "newspaper" here is simply shameful. These are legitimate issues that deserve further examination by a reputable newspaper - something we do not have in Monroe County. Right now, the only place you can find real investigative journalism in this matter is a blog that very few people read, because the "newspaper" will not even allow readers to expose the truth in story comments.

If the Monroe County Republican Party or the Republican candidates for County Council had a spine, they would be forcing the Herald-Times' hand by making an issue out of it. I don't hold out much hope for that either.