Wednesday, January 10, 2007

UI President Search - UI Held Hostage: Day 55

Jan. 10, 1:00 p.m.

(Wondering where the "UI Held Hostage" came from? Click here.)

All our media material today comes from this morning's (Jan. 10) Press-Citizen editorial page -- an editorial about Vilsack, Maria Houser Conzemius op ed about Mary Gilchrist's suit against the UI, and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller's attempt to explain the legal soundness of his "not public records" decision regarding John Colloton's e-mails.

In the course of its editorial lauding outgoing Governor Vilsack, and wishing him well in his presidential bid -- headlined "Vilsack Leaves Iowa Better Than He Found It" (clearly kinder than, "Vilsack Leaves Iowa, State Now Better Than He Found It") -- the paper managed to comment about the problems he will have with the Iowa caucuses. Latest early polls show him trailing Obama and Edwards among Iowans in his home state! But it gets worse. Johnson County plays a disproportionate role in Iowa Democratic Party politics. And, as the Press-Citizen editorializes,

"Vilsack's presidential aspirations will continue to be clouded by . . . what many local residents view as his lack of commitment to higher education. . . . Vilsack's record on higher education issues will haunt him . . .. Too often, the advances in PreK-12 education in the last few years have seemed to come at the expense of college and university education. Indeed, the rhetoric used in budget debates too often pitted the regent universities against both PreK-12 education and the community college system. Add to that Vilsack's appointment of one regent with a clear violation of interest and another whose alienating management skills inspired no-confidence votes from throughout the University of Iowa community, and it's clear that Vilsack will have to spend a lot of time persuading Johnson County Democrats that he should earn their party's nomination for the nation's top office."

Attorney General Miller takes issue with a Press-Citizen story, and editorial, regarding his rulings on open meetings and public records. He says he just "calls 'em like he sees 'em." Much of the column is devoted to "how many lawyers does it take to screw up a lightbulb." Apparently Miller thinks the paper was a couple lawyers off in its count. The rest is devoted to his decisions regarding CIETC. But before closing he adds this final paragraph:

"Third, your Jan. 3 editorial also found fault with our advice to the university that personal e-mails from John Colloton are not fulfilling any official function, and are not public records. If he were assigned a function or duty by University Hospitals or the president of the university, records carrying out that function would be public records. But when acting on his own, even expressing public opinions, the records are personal to him and not public records. That is our best reading of the law as applied to this situation."

I've already written so much about the open meetings and public records issues in this presidential selection and Regents' governance business -- including John Colloton's emails -- that I hesitate to add still more today.

As always, the items are linked, below.

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[Note: If you're new to this blog, and interested in the whole UI President Search story, these blog entries begin with Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search I," November 18, 2006. For any given entry, links to the prior 10 will be found in the left-most column. Going directly to will take you to the latest. Each contains links to the full text of virtually all known media stories and commentary, including mine, since the last blog entry. Together they represent what The Chronicle of Higher Education has called "one of the most comprehensive analyses of the controversy." The last time there was an entry containing the summary of prior entries' commentary (with the heading "This Blog's Focus on Regents' Presidential Search") is Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search XIII -- Last Week," December 11, 2006. My early proposed solution to the conflict is provided in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search VII: The Answer," November 26, 2006. And the fullest collection of basic documents related to the search is contained in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search - Dec. 21-25," December 21, 2006 (and updated thereafter), at the bottom of that blog entry under "References".]

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Media Stories and Commentary

Editorial, "Vilsack Leaves Iowa Better Than He Found It,"
Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 10, 2007

Tom Miller, "Attorney General Calls 'Em Like He Sees 'Em," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 10, 2007

Maria Houser Conzemius, "Gilchrist Takes on UI Establishment," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 10, 2007

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Nicholas Johnson's Main Web Site
Nicholas Johnson's Iowa Rain Forest ("Earthpark") Web Site
Nicholas Johnson's Blog, FromDC2Iowa
Nicholas Johnson's Blog Index

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is controversies like these that expose the lack of leadership at the Univ of Iowa. Someone larger than the officials involved needs to take a perspective.

You can bet that future issues in Iowa will be affected by this void of leadership. Will anyone recognize that?

This is verymuch 'amateur hour'.