Last week’s PSU BoT meeting in Hershey, attended by dozens of former Nittany Lions football lettermen, has faded to black, taking that long ride up the Hershey Highway into the fecal wasteland that has become a metaphor for the board’s (in)action. As expected, Trustee Kenneth Frazier defended “his” Freeh report while others — particularly Anthony Lubrano — decried it, representative of the intractable schism that has pervaded the Penn State community for sixteen months and counting. Of the comments from the peanut gallery, I thought Battaglia’s were the most incisive.
“I’m sorry, Mister Frazier. This ‘move on’ thing is not happening.” —Mark Battaglia
On Thursday, Frazier had launched a tirade of defensively offensive remarks to board candidate Bill Cluck, an attorney, who mentioned to him that it appropriate to question the Freeh report because it has come under question from many directions and would not hold up legally in court. Frazier went off:
“I believe that we are entitled to look at the words and contemporaneous emails and other documents that draw the conclusions that we need to draw as a university. We are not subject to the criminal beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard, and you’re a lawyer, so you can stop pretending that you think we are. We can take employment actions, we can take corrective actions without any need to resort to the so-called due process, reasonable doubt standard, and I don’t care if they are acquitted. And you know the difference. If you cared about that, you are one of the few people in this country that looks like you who actually believes the O.J. Simpson not guilty verdict was correct. The fact of the matter is, those documents say what they say, and no amount of hand waving will ever change what those documents say.”
So, on Friday, Frazier apologized for his untoward remarks, but held his ground in pooh-poohing the Paterno report:
“Because of its limited scope and intent, it does not provide a full or complete description of a historical record and it does not even comment on the recommendations in the Freeh report. As such, it provides little help to the university and decision makers going forward… Because it doesn’t even evaluate the conduct of individuals or many of the subjects addressed in the Freeh report other than with respect to Coach Paterno, it simply does not address any of the findings or documents in the Freeh report. The facts are the facts — and the contemporaneous emails and other documentation are among the most important evidence produced.
“We cannot put heads in the sand and pretend that children were not hurt or that the documents do not exist… When it comes to child sexual abuse, we, the adults in this community and every other community, must prevent the preventable. In order to do so, we must report the reportable. It is that simple and straightforward.
“It is crystal clear that the board cannot and should not reinvestigate the Freeh investigation. Any attempt to try and rewrite history will be damaging to Penn State’s effort to move past this horrible tragedy.”
Oh, boy! Here we go again with the “laser focus on the future of the university” crap. Let’s just sweep the who sordid mess under the rug and no one will notice the huge, ugly lump in the middle of the room! Yeah, the facts are the facts; however, the Freeh report was light on facts and heavy on inference. Frazier plays the vvvvvvvvicccccccccctimmmmmmmmmmms card in yet another simplistic attempt to preempt retorts, but that worked about as well with Lubrano as did the race card with Cluck. Said Lubrano:
“The one area we don’t focus much on is education, which is ironic given that this is an institution of higher learning. So what I would suggest to the board to take Louis Freeh up on his offer where he said in his July 12, 2012 press conference that he would come and meet with the students and the faculty and others to answer questions at the appropriate time. Well, it seems to me that this is a very appropriate time.
“Now I understand your point, Ken, that you don’t want to rewrite history. But I’m not sure the history is correct… This isn’t grandstanding. This is a serious matter. This is a very, very serious matter. Like the rest of you, I love this institution… I want to move forward. Absolutely, positively I want to move forward. But I can’t, in good conscience, move forward at this time. It’s just not possible for me.”
The inner circle of the BoT has been wanting us to “move forward” since Day One. In other words, we shouldn’t question their wisdom. They are obviously infallible.
But what’s this crap about rewriting history? What the hell do they think the Freeh report did? By misrepresenting facts and making spurious inferences, it sure as hell did its share of rewriting history. Now, this Frazier schmuck is defending the indefensible with bluster and platitudes. Lubrano is right. We cannot just move on, as Frazier and his colleagues would like us to.
I’ll tell you what I think. I think Frazier is incompetent and belligerently defensive, just like charlatans tend to be. The Freeh report was his baby and he won’t countenance any questions about his (and Freeh’s) superficial investigation and hastily derived conclusions, which were probably foregone before the report was even commissioned. I continue to think that the report essentially was an $8 million boondoggle whose outcome was pre-ordained by the inner circle. Whenever the report is questioned, the vvvvvvvvicccccctimmmmmmmms card is played and we’re told that we must “move forward.” The questions are never answered. Nevertheless, given that the loudly incompetent Frazier as the front man for the whole fandango, sooner or later someone or something is going to crack, and this turkey wants to be around when the shit hits the fan!
It is interesting that with the election forthcoming, the BoT is considering proposals to reduce the size of the board, to put gags on members, and be empowered to kick people off the board who speak out. Here is the exact wording of the proposal that would restrict the free speech of board members:
“It is expected that each Trustee will… Speak openly, freely and candidly within the Board and publicly support decisions reached by the Board; it being recognized and understood that once the Board of Trustees, as the governing body of the University, makes a decision, it can be counterproductive and potentially damaging to the University for individual Trustees to publicly criticize or attempt to subvert such decision…”
Hellllllllooooooooo! If Washington ran that way, it would be Pyongyang! Communist stifling of free speech! Toe the party line… or else! WTF? Is this America?
What’s next? Jailing public critics like me for speaking up? Holy crap, I better check out the airfare to Siberia! I’ll volunteer for the gulag before the PSU BoT Thought Police come knocking on my Turkey Coop door. I can’t even imagine the cruel and unusual punishment that would await me. Horrors!
Yeah, that’s a bit of an overreaction, but you get my point. Why in the hell should trustees who dissent just roll over and play dead? We know how the BoT works — that the elected members have little power to overcome the decisions made by the inner circle. So now, they want to nullify the elected members by first reducing their numbers, then gagging them, and then threatening them that they’ll be kicked off the board if they open their mouths? Who’d they learn that from, Mark Emmert?
I repeat: WTF!!?!?!
I’m sorry about the digression, but that whole thing pisses me off. Back to the topic at hand.
As I mentioned at the top of this tirade, Mark Battaglia made some comments that I think are worth reading:
“Sadly, to date, there’s only one man who has admitted that with the benefit of hindsight that he wished he would have done more. You see Joe Paterno held us to a higher standard as players. In the classroom, in our lives, on the football field. And we’re here today to hold you, the Board, to a higher standard. More specifically, those who have already been held to a higher standard because they played for Joe Paterno or they had brothers or nephews who played for Joe Paterno. They knew Joe Paterno like we knew Joe Paterno.
“In the huddle, when the game is on the line, they looked in his eyes, they saw the man, they knew the man. And yet, they wouldn’t take his call. They wouldn’t make a call. They sat around silently. Worse yet, maybe they led the effort to fire Joe. Why? Was it personal? Did they let a personal issue lead to a potentially $100 million debacle?
“Joe always said ‘you’re never as good as you think you are when you win and you’re never as bad as you think you are when you lose.’ Good news here is that we are losing, we didn’t lose, but we are losing the battle. We need to change the strategy. We need the leadership from those very people who played for Joe to lead us out of this thing by changing. Paint yourself in the corner with this Freeh report. I’m sorry Mr. Frazier… This ‘move on’ thing is not happening. The alumni are not buying it. So Joe said ‘you have to believe in your heart that you are destined to do great things.’ You can do that. There’s still time. There are 500,000 alumni out there hoping and praying that you accept the challenge.”
“This ‘move on’ thing is not happening!” Tell it just like it is, Mark! I love it!
Finally, I’ll share a video that expresses my wishes quite well.
Who will be our George Foreman?