Friday, May 25, 2007

UI Held Hostage Day 489 - Hines, Gilchrist & War's End

May 25, 2007, 9:10 a.m.

More on Dean Hines' Analysis of Search Secrecy

If you're interested in the issue of whether Search Committee II is covered by the Iowa Open Meetings law, and former UI law dean Bill Hines analysis of the issue, I added some further analysis last evening to yesterday's blog [Nicholas Johnson, "UI Held Hostage Day 488 - Regents Meeting; Hines on Law," May 24, 2007], including a link to the full text of the case he relies on and the Iowa law's definition of "meeting.

Mary Gilchrist Wins Chance At Jury Trial

There's been a major development in the Mary Gilchrist law suit. Here's an excerpt from The Gazette's report this morning:

Judge moves lawsuit over UI lab director's firing to next stage

IOWA CITY — A judge denied a summary judgment motion by University of Iowa Interim President Gary Fethke and another top university official in a lawsuit former University Hygienic Laboratory Director Mary Gilchrist filed over her firing. The UI officials had asked Judge Mitchell Turner to decide the case without bringing it to trial.

In February, a Johnson County District Court judge denied a temporary injunction that would have prevented the UI from firing Gilchrist under Iowa’s whistle-blower statute. Attorneys for the UI argued last month that if she isn’t a whistle-blower, then she has no case to take to a jury.

But that judgment applied only to the temporary injunction and wasn’t a final judgment in the case, as UI attorneys had argued, Turner wrote in a 10-page ruling filed Thursday.
Had Gilchrist's attorneys lost on the defendants' summary judgment motion that would have been the end of the matter. Now they have the opportunity, if they choose to pursue it, to have a "jury of her peers" decide whether she was "insubordinate" or fired for being a "whistle blower."

Ending the War

And speaking of Mary Gilchrist, I earlier repeated her comment that, "I think one has to do the right thing, and the consequences cannot be the major factor that determines what one does." Nicholas Johnson, "Pounding Nails" in "UI Held Hostage Day 486 - Secrecy Issues & Other UI Items," May 22, 2007.

I'm reminded of it this morning as I'm reading the Washington Post's account of yesterday's war funding bill. Shailagh Murray, "Congress Passes Deadline-Free War Funding Bill; Measure Includes Benchmarks for Iraqis," Washington Post, May 25, 2007, p. A1.

I have known a number of elected public officials, for many of whom I've had enormous respect. Together, they have ranged along a continuum from hopelessly naive and unrealistically idealistic to almost exclusively self-serving and personally enriching.

A widely held belief, or rationalization, among them has been the view that because, on balance, they are doing more for the public than would be done by their likely successor, that fact fully justifies whatever compromises they make, the time they spend raising money from the wealthy and special interests (and then doing their bidding), and the times they go along with their leadership in supporting bills they actually oppose.

I'm not sitting in judgment of any of them this morning. I can't know what they know. They may truly believe they have done all they possibly could to end this war.

But I can't help but wonder how many of those Democrats who were elected in an anti-war campaign voted as they did yesterday, at least in part, out of a fear of being cast as "unpatriotic," "soft on terrorism," or unwilling to "support our troops," when they were next up for re-election.
(As State29 puts it this morning, "Democrats are Weak and Surrender Easily," May 25, 2007.)

I was fully aware, when serving as an FCC commissioner, that my dissenting opinions, Congressional testimony, articles, books and speeches would result in my never being offered one of those lucrative jobs in broadcasting, the telephone industry, or the law and lobbying firms that represent their interests. Similarly, when I ran for and was elected to the local school board, I announced that I was only going to serve one term.

It has always seemed to me that focusing on one's re-appointment, or re-election, can get in the way of the job one is supposed to do when courageous and unpopular stands are required to fully serve the public interest.

I don't see how you can say that you want to end the war and bring the troops home and at the same time vote an additional $100 billion dollars to prolong the killing. Maybe cutting off funding is not the answer. But, if not, then all those bright folks in Congress, and the think tanks that populate the nation's capital, have an obligation to come up with better alternatives. Merely bemoaning the war, while funding it, is unacceptable.

This war has become, for me, as if every day is Memorial Day. It's like attending a seemingly unending series of funerals. It is a somber moment for me when the PBS evening news, or the ABC Sunday morning show, show the pictures of those who have most recently died in Iraq -- along with their age and home town. I stop whatever else I am doing, focus in silence, reflect on each in turn -- what it has been like for their family, friends, former classmates, and home town -- and I pray and I grieve.

I don't care how partisan you are, no one's re-election is worth that -- especially not for an unnecessary, "pre-emptive," counterproductive war that only serves to breed ever more potential terrorists and reduce, rather than enhance, our national security.

Mary Gilchrist is right: "
one has to do the right thing, and the consequences cannot be the major factor that determines what one does." Voting to continue this war is not "the right thing."

UICCU and "Optiva"

The UICCU-Optiva story is essentially behind us. There may be occasional additions "for the record," but for the most part the last major entry, with links to the prior material from October 2006 through March 2007, is
"UICCU and 'Optiva'" in Nicholas Johnson, "UI Held Hostage Day 406 - March 3 - Optiva," March 3, 2007. Since then there have been two major additions: Nicholas Johnson, "Open Letter to UICCU Board" in "UI Held Hostage Day 423 - March 20 - UICCU," March 20, 2007, and "'Open Letter': Confirmation from World Council of Credit Unions" in "UI Held Hostage Day 424 - March 21 UICCU," March 21, 2007.

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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.

Wondering where the "UI Held Hostage" came from? Click here. (As of January 25 the count has run from January 21, 2006, rather than last November.)

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.

Searching: 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." A Blog Index of entries on all subjects since June 2006 is also available. And note that if you know (or can guess at) a word to search on, the "Blogger" bar near the top of your browser has a blank, followed by "SEARCH THIS BLOG," that enables you to search all entries in this Blog since June 2006.]

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Media Stories and Commentary

See above.

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