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Civic Skinny

It’s final: Bubu Palo didn’t rape Hunter Elizabeth Breshears.

9/9/2015

Iowa State University’s three-year fight against basketball player Bubu Palo ended last week in the Court of Appeals.

Once again, Palo won.

And, finally, the university is giving up. It let pass the deadline for filing a petition with the Iowa Supreme Court for further review.

No matter what the university says, no matter what former student Hunter Elizabeth Breshears says, no matter what Breshears’ mother says, no matter what the lawyers from the Attorney General’s office say, no matter what ISU president Steven Leath says, Bubu Palo did not rape Hunter Elizabeth Breshears on the night of May 17, 2012.

Every judge outside the university system who has heard the case — the administrative law judge, the Story County District Court judge, and now a three-judge panel on the Iowa Court of Appeals — has ruled in favor of Palo. The Story County Attorney, who originally brought rape charges against the scholar-athlete, dropped the state’s charges after determining that a key piece of evidence — a torn blouse — was tampered with while it was in the possession of Hunter Breshears and her mother.

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But the Board of Regents and University President Leath kept pursuing the case.

Even though the county attorney dropped criminal charges, the university continued with its allegations that Palo violated the student disciplinary regulation that prohibited sexual misconduct, sexual assault and sexual harassment. Palo chose to have that allegation heard by an administrative law judge rather than a university tribunal, and the judge said the charge was unfounded.

“From an objective review of the situation, this was just another ‘hook up,’” the administrative law judge wrote two years ago.

The university — acting as prosecutor, judge and jury — then overruled the administrative law judge. Palo then appealed to district court. The court found there was not substantial evidence to convict Palo. It overturned the decision by ISU, Leath and the Board of Regents.

The Regents then appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, which handed the issue off to the Court of Appeals. Palo has graduated, and his athletic eligibility is over, the Court of Appeals ruled, so the issue is moot and the court needn’t rule. The court noted there are exceptions to mootness — that it could rule on the issue — but “we decline to find that an exception to the mootness doctrine applies.”

Meantime, Palo’s suit against Breshears and her mother continues to plod along. He has sued them alleging defamation, emotional injury and abuse of process, and he has alleged that Hunter Elizabeth Breshears’ mother, Grace, “sought to have Palo’s contract and employment with the Texas Legends terminated.” He has sued for contract interference.

Each side in the case has moved for summary judgment, and hearings were held on those motions last week. A ruling on those issues is likely this week.

As for basketball, “Bubu has not made a decision on next season but does have options both in [the NBA D League] and overseas,” Matt Boles, his lawyer, says. After graduating from Iowa State with a degree in finance, Palo signed a year ago with the Texas Legends of the D League. During the season, he was placed on waivers and then signed by the Sioux Falls Skyforce, which still lists him on its roster. He played in 42 games during the season. …

Des Moines police have willingly said which hotels prostitutes were working out of during the recent sting. Some men were arrested at the Ramada Inn on Army Post Road near the airport; others were arrested at the Motel 6 on Fleur Drive, the police said.

The Polk County Sheriff, though, has declined to say where his deputies ran their sting.

It was the Econo Lodge Inn and Suites on Merle Hay. …

Branstad job watch: Iowa’s nonfarm employment was 1,569,400 in July, down about 18,000 from the month before. When Terry Branstad was elected governor nearly five years ago, he promised to create 200,000 jobs in five years. So far, he has created about 70,000. Of course, he still has four months to go. CV

Comment: President Harreld
This could be interesting.
Early last week, the possible selection of wealthy Colorado businessman J. Bruce Harreld as the next president of the University of Iowa had the faculty — especially the faculty politicians — in something between a snit and a panic. They said he wasn’t remotely qualified.

Later last week, he got the job.

Now, change is on the way.  Many faculty members hate and fear change; they see it as a threat to a comfortable existence. And they disdain those not of the academy, those without a Ph.D. Eight years ago, faculty members sneered when non-academics on the search committee suggested the committee consider Jim Leach for the presidency.

Now, not only do they have a president with a long history as a change agent but also one with little history in the world of academics.

They are not happy.

Last week, they polled themselves and reported that only two of the 114 faculty respondents deemed Harreld qualified to be their boss. Then they trumpeted their findings — as if that would scare the Board of Regents.
How dumb.
How arrogant.

The other three finalists were viewed as acceptable by 91 percent to 98 percent of the respondents. They have spent their lives in academe and have the beloved credentials. The 64-year-old Harreld merely has a bachelor’s degree (in industrial engineering from Purdue) and an MBA (from Harvard) and a lifetime of experience in the business world. By all accounts, he did a good job at Kraft General Foods, at the Boston Consulting Group, and at IBM, where he was senior vice president for marketing and strategy. He has also taught in the business schools at Harvard and Northwestern.

That’s not good enough for the elitists in Iowa City.

Universities run under a theory called shared governance. At Iowa, the faculty interprets it this way: We want a voice — even veto power — in the university’s governing decisions, including the selection of presidents and provosts and deans. But we certainly don’t want any shared governance when it comes to what we teach and how we teach. And, by the way, if you try to manage us, we will make your life miserable.

That’s the way it has been for a long time.

As a result, the university has ended up with recent presidents who were very good at raising money, quite good at dealing with alumni, kind of good at hiring coaches, and not very good at managing the academic people and academic departments. They avoided confrontation with the faculty and thus embraced the status quo even as the world outside Iowa City moved on. Excellent departments remained excellent, mediocre ones remained mediocre. Departments drifted. Little was changed. (The exception: Gary Fethke, the business-school dean who was interim president of the university in 2006 and 2007. He was an agent of change who accomplished more in 17 months than his predecessor and successor did in a combined 13 years.)

There’s no doubt that universities are special places, places where new ideas are explored and old ideas are debated. And though a university is a business — a big business — it can’t be run entirely like one. The atmosphere must be maintained, the minds must be nourished. Intellectual vigor must be matched by administrative vigor. Change must be wrought. And it must be embraced.

Fethke at Iowa and Greg Geoffroy at Iowa State knew how to do that, fairly and firmly and, often, quietly.

Harreld appears to be the kind of man who can bring it about, too. The faculty had better be prepared to embrace it.

This could be interesting.

• • •

The first changes President Harreld might consider: Calling off the $1.3 million renovation of the president’s house, which seems to be renovated every few years. Fix the cracks, but don’t rebuild the place. And calling off the $500,000 remake of the president’s office. Clear out all the dirt that has been swept under the rug the past few years, but don’t add a private bathroom.

Set the right tone on day one. CV

 

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