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Vilsack e-mails USDA staffers about Sherrod

By Ed O'Keefe

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:

USDA Employees,
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

RELATED: Shirley Sherrod declines USDA job offer

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | August 24, 2010; 8:31 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Comments

Vilsack shoud have resigned, He can still do the honorable thing...but he won't.

Posted by: bobcdp10 | August 25, 2010 12:27 AM | Report abuse

vilsack should resign immediately. there are enough jackasses appointed by both parties. when they act like he did, they should do the right thing and get out.
but the right thing never happens in government, does it?

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Posted by: itkonlyyou248 | August 25, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

As an Iowan and knowing how Vilsack has operated in the past, I feel that he is taking the blame for a situation that was ordered from the top. The "Top" has shown that it does not know what is going on with the Middle Class or the people in the country.

Posted by: bfree123 | August 25, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I was very glad Mrs. Sherrod declined the offer. She made to best move.

Posted by: cfran1016hotmailcom | August 25, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Like bfree123, I am an Iowan. From what I know of Sec. Vilsack, if this was truly his mistake, it was very uncharacteristic of him. To make a rash decision like this without checking the facts is NOT like Sec. Vilsack. He is a good, honest, and down to earth guy. The only reason I would want him to resign is so I could run a write-in campaign for him to take his old job as governor back. He was far better than the current gov or his Republican opponent, a previous Iowa governor.

Posted by: drvote | August 25, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

He really was able to email all USDA employees? Why didn't he include a link to his blog post, or at least the URL?

Posted by: bharshaw | August 25, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

the white man acted stupidly

Posted by: jiji1 | August 25, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Unlike bree123 and drvote, I do not know Sec. Vilsack or Ms. Sherrod. Being a retired USDA employee, I know first hand how politically appointed management can and often does react before getting all the facts. I too feel that Sec. Vilsack was forced to take action before investigating the details. I did not see Ms. Sherrod's full message, only the edited version show on the news. In my opinion, this edited message was not offensive enough to warrant the action initially taken. To me the edited version was demonstrating her point of how prejudice is in all of us. We just don't have to act on them. I'll quote a phrase my mother always preached, "Treat others the way you want to be treated!"
I voted for Pres. Obama but unfortunately, I feel this is another example of how the Administration overreacts to racial challenges. The Admin. needs to concentrate on the American - World economy and saftey not overeact to racial challenges before fully investigating the issues.
I do not blame Ms. Sherrod's decision to reject the job offer. I am told by her former associates in GA. RD that she was effective in her State Director position. Too bad this happened to her. I wish her well in whatever job opportunity she chooses.

Posted by: silentmajority47 | August 25, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

From what I have read Vilsack was not even in Washington when that happened, he was in Ohio.(where I am posting from) He might not even have known it was happening, but a subordinate was handling it.

If so, and he is taking the heat, then he gets points for integrity above and beyond.

Posted by: bobfromdistrict9 | August 31, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

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