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Gov. Vilsack, fly home and fire Gartner
[Hardcopy: "Still Time to Fly Home and Fire Gartner"

Maria Houser Conzemius

Iowa City Press-Citizen

December 16, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Press-Citizen, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

Dear Gov. Vilsack,

Please remember that Iowa is key to your presidential aspirations. Why would you be hanging out in South Carolina confiding to largely black gatherings that Iowa still has a lot of racists in it, when you could be home washing your own dirty laundry? Yes, racism exists in state hiring. The investigation -- a delay tactic, in part, to avoid firing state agency heads -- continues apace.

But isn't there something you've forgotten to do? The University of Iowa Faculty Senate voted 62-1 Tuesday to support a no-confidence vote against the Iowa state Board of Regents. You have some cleaning up to do, and it is ignoble to expect Gov.-Elect Chet Culver to begin his term with washing your dirty linen.

If for no better reason, remember that Iowa is key to your presidential aspirations. How can we respect you when you won't clean up your own messes?

I heard you talk about yourself as an abused child at a "Child Witness to Violence" conference in Des Moines a few years ago. My heart went out to you. As a social worker, I hoped that you would clean up the Department of Human Services after it did little to stop the murder of Shelby Duis -- a darling, sad and confused little two-year-old whose social worker didn't do enough to prevent her from being killed. I was with you then.

Very little, if anything, improved. I realized that, over time, and my support for you nearly vanished.

Now we have racism in state hiring. Are you willing to step up to the plate? Are you willing to make heads roll? No. You started an investigation. Ho-hum. That's another mess Culver will have to clean up because guess what? The investigation won't present its findings until you are no longer in office.

Is that fair?

We have an out-of-control Iowa forest fire with the Iowa state Board of Regents, with egotistical, my-way-or-the-highway, faculty-intimidating Michael Gartner at the helm, creating his usual mess, just as he did at The Des Moines Register and NBC.

Is it true that Gartner is supporting your presidential bid? Let me tell you something very important: You can't afford Gartner's support. And your support of Gartner, if it exists, costs you too much with the electorate.

Fly home and clean up your own messes. Not just for our sakes, but for yours. You can't become president of the United States if your own state doesn't respect you or support you.

Waiting to hear from you,

Maria Houser Conzemius is a former social worker, a member of the Press-Citizen's Writers' Group and a Varsity Blogger for