IBJ's profile on HEC boss, Benner on Knight

Dateline: Thu 14 Feb 2008

Be sure to read the Indianapolis Business Journal's profile on the Hoosier Environmental Council new executive director, Jesse Kharbanda. He's came to the 49th least green state (us) after an impressive string of other jobs (Chicago) and academic accomplishments (Oxford) to try to wake us out of our somnolence.

The headline on the profile, written by Chris O'Malley, hints at the problem: "Uphill battle ahead: State poses tough test for new enviro leader"

O'Malley writes of two recent legislative defeats that would have required the state's utilities to deliver a portion of services in renewable energy. Says O'Malley, Kharbanda said "he has 'almost a sense that the views of the electric utilities are paramount in Indiana.'"

Yes. And HEC never seemed to get traction with its lobbying efforts in the Statehouse. But that badly needs to change. Kharbanda, with the media as watchdog, could help move us up the line, at least to 48. (The least-green listing was courtesy of Forbes).

Another interesting take, albeit already dated, is Bill Benner's Feb. 11 column on his relationship with Indiana University coach Bob Knight when Benner was a sports columnist at the Star: "Once in Knight's doghouse, I never came out."

Benner, associate director of communications at the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, writes about his initial impression of "the good Bobby" in 1982, when Knight showed personal concern for Benner's child after she was taken to the emergency room.

Benner says in 1984 he was approached by someone in the IU sports information office, who also was a good friend of Knight's. Writes Benner:

"'Coach thinks you've turned against him and the program. He says if you don't come around, he's not going to give you access to him or the players.'"

"I bristled.

"'You tell him that I don't know what he's talking about, but that I answer to my editors, not him,' I said.

"From that point, my relationship with Knight disintegrated. As with many others in the media and elsewhere with Knight, I had arrived at his fork in the road. I decided on the path not popularly chosen."

Thus Benner became a "Bob Knight critic," but he concludes by wishing Knight well in retirement.

Now, we're waiting to see if Benner speculates on the possible return of Knight to IU, since the program is in new hot water under Coach Kelvin Sampson.

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