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This is the thirty-eighth post in an ongoing series as we file Missouri Sunshine Law (RSMo 610) requests and investigate the non-renewal of the contract of University of Central Missouri President Aaron Podolefsky. Links to previous coverage are below the fold. BG and MB

And you all thought we had forgotten about the tale of Aaron Podolefsky, the University of Central Missouri Board of Governors, and the radio station part-owner who talks about trees. We haven’t. We were waiting for more information.

When this story broke Blue Girl wrote:

…I contacted Mr. Hassler at the station this morning and asked him if the transcript I cite above was accurate, and he confirmed that it was, but dismissed the comments as made “just in passing…”

The transcript of the original radio broadcast:

Greg Hassler: …The University of Central Missouri. End of an era.

Marion Woods: Uh, huh.

Greg Hassler: Aaron Podolefsky. Out. We’ve talked about it for a long time….

….The, the thing that really upset me, that kind of got [garbled] going originally was, for years there was a Christmas tree lit at Selmo Park. Remember that?

Marion Woods: Yep.

Greg Hassler: Drive by. He stopped that. I mean I think every religion should be able to celebrate, uh, in their own way, but, I mean we do live in Warrensburg, Missouri. This is America. You know. Let’s bring that back. How ’bout that?

Marion Woods: Wasn’t that the Christmas tree at the quadrangle?

Greg Hassler: No, there was also one at Selmo Park.

Marion Woods: Oh, okay.

Gregg Hassler: In the, in the yard, area there, so. I mean, I don’t know, it’s jus… It, it was a bad fit from the get go. It’s, it’s over…

Several sources provided us with information and written communications of which took place in December. One sent us a recording of a portion of a radio broadcast which supposedly took place on December 10, 2009. We have not yet been able to confirm that this broadcast took place on that date. That date is very interesting.

Greg Hassler: …But there’s another blogger out there that has taken some things that I have said, eh, out of context and has spun them around and at, attacked me on blogs, calling me a racist, a bigot, which I’m not. They’ve also called me anti-Semitic, which I’m not. I love all people of all religions, I do. I’m not anti-Semitic.

other voice: I would agree with that.

Greg Hassler: You know what I am?

other voice: What are you?

Greg Hassler: I’m a big Mules and Jennies basketball fan, [laughter] that’s what I am….

“…The, the thing that really upset me, that kind of got [garbled] going originally was, for years there was a Christmas tree lit at Selmo Park. Remember that?…”

Yes, please do tell us about the context without spinning it.

The content in the audio [transcript], supposedly from December 10, 2009, is almost a verbatim quote of an e-mail sent by Greg Hassler in response to a reporter from the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, described in an article published on November 13, 2009:

….Hassler returned The Chronicle’s request for comment via e-mail, saying:

“First of all let me say that I am not anti-Semitic, I love all people of all religions. I have never stated anything about anyone’s religion on or off the air. People have taken a comment out of context and have spun it for their purpose….”

Another source sent us copies of two written communications, the first written by University of Central Missouri Board of Governors President Richard Phillips on December 13, 2009:

December 13, 2009

Mr. Benoit Wesley


Dear Mr. Wesley:

I spent several days in Warrensburg last week continuing to visit with University and community individuals in an effort to resolve the issue we have discussed.  On Thursday morning, December 10, the radio personality made a public statement that should resolve this matter.  Another Board member has visited with Mr. Elliott and provided him with an update of activities on our campus. I know the two of you are to meet later this week and perhaps will have a chance to visit on this matter. I personally visited with each Board member and discussed this with them and we trust this issue is behind us and we can move forward.

I do hope all is well with you and I again want to state how much our University appreciates the partnership with you and your family.  As I have stated before you are a trusted and honored friend of our University.  On your next visit to our campus I would appreciate the opportunity to visit with you.


Richard Phillips


[emphasis added]

On December 23, 2009 Benoit Wesly replied:


Mr. Richard Phillips

President of the University of Central

Missouri Board of Governors


Maastricht, December 23, 2009


Dear Mr. Philips,

I confirm receipt of your letter by e-mail dated December 13. I met with Dr. Ed Elliott. Some time ago a radioman, financially supported by the university and tremendously influenced by the Athletic Director, made an anti-Semitic public statement trying to hurt Mr. and Mrs. Podolefsky in specific and all the Jews in the world in general. I did check with professionals whether the statement about the Christmas tree indeed was anti-Semitic statement. I did receive written confirmations, that there is no doubt that the statement is anti-Semitic and of a very bad nature.

I did ask the board in writing to investigate the matter and to take corrective steps, if necessary. You did not.

I did ask you to bring the matter as fast as possible in the open session of your board meeting. You did not.

You should have taken the ‘highway’ from the beginning. You did not.

You should have openly and publicly declared, that the statement of the radioman is not to be tolerated by the university. You did not.

You should have taken public corrective steps against the radioman and against the Athletic Sports Director in order to protect the university. You did not.

You should have taken the principles and values of the constitution of the USA for granted. You did not.

You should publicly have presented your apologies for the very slow and negative approach to solve these problems to your students, faculty members and Mr. and Mrs. Podolefsky. You did not.

By writing you several times, by talking to you over the phone, I indicated how bad the statement of the radioman really was. You had the chance to clear the sky immediately. You did not.

Years ago I donated a Bell Tower. Central wanted to name the tower after my family. I did not and it became the Maastricht Friendship Tower. I am still very proud of that. It became a landmark. The Bell Tower carries a text from the Old Testament to educate students:

‘Who is wise? He who learns from every person”

You may visit that tower once and you may learn as well.

In my capacity as being a proud Jew and being the leader of the Jewish community in my region; being chairman of the Maror Foundation established by our government to rebuilt Jewish life in The Netherlands and being the first honorable consul to the State of Israel ever appointed in The Netherlands, I want to face myself every morning in the mirror. One day you may do the same.

Best regards,


Benoit Wesly


Members of the Board of Governors of the University of Central Missouri

Mr. Aaron Podolefsky, President of the University of Central Missouri

Dr. Ed Elliott

Mrs. Kathy Callahan, Ph.D., College of Applied Sciences and Technology Fashion and Apparal Merchandising University of Central Missouri

Dr. Joan Mansfield, Interim Dean of the Harmon College of Business Administration of the University of Central Missouri

Mrs. Penny Kugler, Director Center for Business Internships Harmon College of Business Administration of the University of central Missouri

Enclosure: E-mail Mr. Richard Philips December 16, 2009

[emphasis in original]

It’s not going to go away on its own. One of the first lessons of crisis management and damage control is don’t let the issue fester unaddressed for any length of time.

“…You did not…”

Our previous coverage of the issue:

Three steps behind, and to the right (January 25, 2008)

Three steps behind, and to the right, part 2 – a microcosm of our universe (September 21, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”? (October 15, 2009) (transcript of a portion of the live radio broadcast)

It wasn’t just about a tree (October 21, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: I heard it on the radio (October 21, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: let’s not get cut out of the will (October 22, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: $87.75 will get you one sheet of paper (October 23, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: They’re not playing hardball, they’re playing cat and mouse
 (October 23, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: a cola and some scoreboards (October 24, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: a few more pieces of the puzzle? (October 28, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: your silence means consent (October 29, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: let’s not get cut out of the will, part 2 (October 30, 2009)

Old media irony impairment (October 30, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: I heard it on the radio, part 2 (October 31, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: where everybody knows your name (October 31, 2009)

Methinks that someone is paying attention! (November 2, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Bond, Stadium Bond (November 4, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: where everybody knows your name, part 2 (November 4, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: I heard it on the radio, part 3 (November 5, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: nothing succeeds like success (November 6, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: your Friday news dump (November 6, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: nothing exceeds like excess (November 7, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a grade for Accounting 101 (November 7, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: there ought to be a law (November 8, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: there’s gotta be a contract around here somewhere (November 9, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: there ought to be a law, part 2 (November 10, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Garbo speaks! (November 12, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle (November 13, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”? Follow the money and it reveals the timeline (November 14, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: the new president search consulting contract (November 18, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a march on a cold and rainy day (November 18, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: raise their voices (November 19, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: great moments in radio reporting (November 21, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Oh, my! (December 3, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: It’s simple, really… (December 5, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: I do truly care about the success of our students (December 6, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: “…a wonderful relationship there we’re really proud of…” (December 7, 2009)

Oh brother, it’s time to convene another panel on blogger ethics… (December 8, 2009)