Vilsack e-mails USDA staffers about Sherrod
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack e-mailed USDA staffers on Tuesday evening about his meeting on Tuesday with ousted official Shirley Sherrod. The message describe his meeting with her and the steps his office is taking to ensure a similarly embarrassing incident doesn't happen again:
Today, I had the opportunity sit down with Shirley Sherrod for our first face-to-face meeting since the incident surrounding her resignation from USDA. I made my very best case that she should join our Office of Advocacy and Outreach. I also told Shirley that she could return to her old job if she wanted to. She decided that neither option was right for her.
Over the past weeks we conducted a review to determine what mistakes were made in Mrs. Sherrod’s case. This is to ensure that the USDA learns from the incident, and avoids similar pitfalls in the future. Mrs. Sherrod and I took time to discuss the review we completed and how USDA will be moving forward to address the recommendations it contains.
Our conversation also touched on the history of civil rights at the Department, and the important efforts we are undertaking to close this sad chapter at USDA. I put together my thoughts on this subject in a blog post, which I hope you will take a moment to read.
As I wrote in that short blog, I hope that this experience provides an opportunity for me, my staff, and USDA as a whole to learn from our mistakes. We must work to build a more open, responsive, collaborative, transparent, and effective USDA – one that empowers and respects its employees and customers. And at the end of the day, if we accomplish these goals together, I know that we will build a stronger Department, and better serve the American people.
Secretary Tom Vilsack
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