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At least when Jake Blues came up with a desperate last minute excuse you could laugh:

…Honest… I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn’t have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. It wasn’t my fault, I swear to God…

This is the forty-fifth 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

The Muleskinner, the University of Central Missouri student newspaper, ran a front page article in today’s dead tree edition titled, Remark Under Fire: Debates arise over ‘anti-Semitic’ statement. They managed to get a quote from KOKO radio announcer and part owner Greg Hassler:

….Hassler has said on air and during interviews that he didn’t consider the comment anti-Semitic.

“I am not an anti-Semite,” Hassler said. “Actually what I did was misspeak. I meant the tree on the quadrangle. I didn’t say it was because he was Jewish. I should have phrased it better….”

What Greg Hassler said on the air in October:

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…

[emphasis added]

You’d think a quick thinking media professional wouldn’t misspeak twice. And there’s that ‘religion’ thing.

And our intrepid radio professional on live radio on February 2, 2010? Not a word about misspeaking:

…Greg Hassler: I’m not the problem. No question about that. The problem’s gonna leave in June. That’s the problem. And it’ll be gone soon, we just have to wait. Okay…

Despite lame excuses the problem is not going to go away in June.

Update –  The University of Central Missouri Faculty Senate met yesterday afternoon and approved motions to send the following letters in their name:

February 10, 2010

Dear Mr. Wesly,

We, the Faculty Senate of the University of Central Missouri, are grateful for your twenty years of friendship with our university.  We are saddened that you feel the need to end your relationship with UCM over the anti-Semitic comment of a person who has a contract with the university.

The Faculty Senate does not endorse or approve the use of offensive language or comments.  In fact, we support the anti-discrimination policy in place at UCM.  That policy explicitly states a “policy of nondiscrimination  in regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, Vietnam Era veterans and persons with handicaps and disabilities.”  Our community creed includes an item that indicates we strive to be “an open community, by creating and maintaining effective channels of communication and by accepting and respecting individuals whose values, beliefs, and life experiences may be different from my own.”

We want you to know that the Faculty Senate does not endorse or approve of comments that are offensive to any of the groups described above.  We are horrified that anti-Semitic remarks have been made, but more than that, we are appalled that our university has failed in our commitment to expressed beliefs.  Please accept our sincere apologies and understand that we will continue to work towards an open community.  We hope you will renew your long-term friendship with the university.


The Faculty Senate of the University of Central Missouri

And after the letter to Benoit Wesly was approved by a unanimous vote, the following letter to Richard Phillips, the President of the University of Central Missouri Board of Governors, was approved with a few dissenting votes:

February 10, 2010

Dear President Phillips,

This letter is prompted by the following statement that appeared in the Kansas City Star on Sunday, February 7.

Board President Richard Phillips said Monday that the remark [by a local radio personality] should not have been made, but the university did not believe it was anti-Semitic.

There is no evidence to support this belief.  The remark has never been investigated by an inclusively representative university body.  No one, not even the President of the Board of Governors, has the authority to assert the university does not believe the remark was anti-Semitic.

Because it suggests a belief held by the entire Central community-students, staff, and faculty-we fear your statement will have a detrimental impact on recruiting and retaining good students, staff, and faculty.  More seriously, your statement about the beliefs of the entire university community says to the state, country, and the rest of the world that Central is a university that tolerates discrimination.

We, the Faculty Senate, respectfully suggest that you either clarify or apologize to the entire Central community for making a statement about the beliefs of the community that you have no evidence for and that is clearly wrong.


The Faculty Senate of the University of Central Missouri

No, the problem is not going away in June.

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)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a lesson on how not to attempt damage control (January 26, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a lesson on how not to attempt damage control, part 2 (January 28, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: welcome to the party… (February 1, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: welcome to the party, four months late, part 2 (February 2, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: those people from Denmark, you know, the Dutch (February 3, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a conversation with the Muleskinner (February 6, 2010)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a simple question (February 8, 2010)

Find the Non-Employee Game! (February 8, 2010)(NYCMule)