Vilsack Reconsidering Shirley Sherrod Firing; Sherrod May Not Accept Reinstatement


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday he would reconsider the department's decision to oust Sherrod over her comments that she didn't give a white farmer as much help as she could have 24 years ago. [. . .] Vilsack's statement came after the NAACP posted the full video of Sherrod's comments Tuesday night.

"I am of course willing and will conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts to ensure to the American people we are providing services in a fair and equitable manner," Vilsack said. The Obama administration's move to reconsider her employment was an absolute reversal from hours earlier, when a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said President Barack Obama had been briefed on Sherrod's resignation after the fact and stood by the Agriculture Department's handling of it.

But Sherrod may have no interest in coming back:

The woman at the center of a racially tinged firestorm involving the Obama administration and the NAACP said Wednesday she doesn't know if she'd return to her job at the Agriculture Department, even if asked. "I am just not sure how I would be treated there," Shirley Sherrod said in a nationally broadcast interview.

Good for her.

Speaking for me only

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    I hope she tells him ... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Yman on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:08:30 AM EST
    ... exactly where to put his job.

    She won't, ...

    ... but it would be wonderful.

    Since her whole deal (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:59:21 AM EST
    her whole life story, really, is about forgiveness and reconciliation, no, she won't.  She's softened her attitude about going back if asked, and I wouldn't really be surprised if she did at least for a while, just to continue to make her point even more strongly about putting aside your grievances and resentments and working to make life better for everybody.

    Though she's nobody's patsy, she's an extraordinarily nice, warm person.  In all the interviews she's done that I've seen, she only got agitated once, and that was at some endless blather CNN's Roland Martin was putting out that I couldn't even follow.


    I've been really impressed with her too (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by ruffian on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:27:13 AM EST
    Everytime I see or hear her I get more angry about this whole thing.

    She is owed a huge apology and reinstatement. I hope she takes that or another job in government. We need more people with her experience and grace, not fewer.


    We do... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:41:53 AM EST
    need more people like her, in the worst way...though I would feel bad wishing her back into this business...she doesn't deserve that, and quite frankly we, the gotcha society, probably don't deserve her services.  

    We deserve the Vilsacks, the Obamas, and the Breitbarts...we value and reward snakeoil salesmen.


    *Now* Vilsack's going to conduct a thorough (5.00 / 6) (#3)
    by Anne on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:28:14 AM EST
    review?  Now?  After he and the WH decided it was a good idea to accept - from a reliably right-wing, reactionary source, an edited-for-maximum-reaction video as the entire truth of the matter?


    There is no excuse for this.  None.  

    But maybe Vilsack, Sherrod and Obama can all get together for a beer; I'm sure that will make it all better.

    Wow (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by lilburro on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:29:26 AM EST
    the WH and the NAACP got completely played.  How ridiculous.  She seems like a great person and ideal for that position.

    Who in their right mind (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by scribe on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:42:16 AM EST
    would want to work for an administration that cowers, runs, hides and gives up its lunch money to a bunch of thugs - their political adversaries - and has no stomach to back their people?  And makes a practice of both beating on their own base and begging their adversaries for affection?

    I wouldn't.  

    Worthless bunch of cowards.

    Question for the attorneys here (none / 0) (#2)
    by BTAL on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:18:44 AM EST
    There is a lot of banter on other sites regarding a cause of action against Breitbart (both by Sherrod and possibly DOJ).  

    It didn't take but 2 minutes to find out that Brietbart did not make, nor alter the video on Youtube.  See my post in the other thread.

    The question:  Would not the USDA be the correct target of any potential legal action she would/could pursue?

    Sherrod could be fired without cause (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:34:00 AM EST
    The government has sovereign immunity.

    Vilsack has qualified immunity.

    If Sherrod wanted to recover damages, her target has to be Breitbart.

    I think she would to prove actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth as the issue fall under the "public issue/public figure" rubrik see, e.g Time v. Hill (interesting trivia, the losing argument in the case was made by Richard Nixon.)

    If she asked me for my advice, I would tell her a lwasuit is not worth it. She has not only cleared her name already, she now is viewed very favorably.


    Govt employees are exempt (none / 0) (#7)
    by BTAL on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:53:06 AM EST
    from civil rights/equal employment laws?  That wasn't the case when I (even in the military) was there.

    Breitbart did not produce the video.  He didn't alter the video.  Heck, he wasn't the first to publish the video.

    And what about the NAACP's initial published statement that was both an inaccurate description of Mrs. Sherrod?  


    Her civil rights were not violated (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:55:34 AM EST
    Vilsack's statement yesterday: (none / 0) (#16)
    by BTAL on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:21:34 AM EST
    Yesterday, I asked for and accepted Ms. Sherrod's resignation for two reasons. First, for the past 18 months, we have been working to turn the page on the sordid civil rights record at USDA and this controversy could make it more difficult to move forward on correcting injustices. Second, state rural development directors make many decisions and are often called to use their discretion. The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia.

    Our policy is clear. There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA and we strongly condemn any act of discrimination against any person. We have a duty to ensure that when we provide services to the American people we do so in an equitable manner. But equally important is our duty to instill confidence in the American people that we are fair service providers.

    He fired her and used the justification of her guilt of racism.  He was wrong and she was damaged (loss of employment and defamed).  If any other govt (or even private sector) employer/supervisor did the same, they would be sued in a NY minute.


    But not for civil rights violations (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:28:00 AM EST
    This is why the issue of government immunity was mentioned by me.

    Ok, but I also included (none / 0) (#26)
    by BTAL on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:30:57 AM EST
    equal employment laws as part of the question.

    And why you did (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:34:12 AM EST
    is not apparent to me.

    You seem to be conflating ... (none / 0) (#32)
    by Yman on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 10:14:26 AM EST
    ... a cause of action for a violation of her civil rights/equal employment, with a cause of action for libel/defamation based on a false charge of racism levied against her.

    Wasn't she an appointee? (none / 0) (#9)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:56:11 AM EST
    If she was, then she "served at the pleasure of the president" and can be fired at will with no recourse, no?

    I thought I wrote that (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:04:57 AM EST
    Not every government employee (none / 0) (#13)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:11:55 AM EST
    Is at-will and can be fired for any cause without recourse.

    I know (none / 0) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:15:09 AM EST
    That is why I expressly stated Sherrod could be fired without cause.

    My point was (none / 0) (#18)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:24:39 AM EST
    Regular at-will employees may still have legal recourse in these type of situations.  I don't believe appointees do since they serve at the pleasure of the president.

    What recourse would they have? (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:27:01 AM EST
    At will is at will. Whether the will is the President's or someone else's.

    Not following your point.


    A career federal employee (none / 0) (#28)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:34:24 AM EST
    Can, in many cases, sue for things like wrongful termination.  A political appointee cannot.

    A careeer employee (none / 0) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:39:58 AM EST
    is not in an at will situation.

    Again, I do not see your point.


    Sure they are (none / 0) (#34)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 10:32:11 AM EST
    Not all are part of a union and almost all serve some probationary period up to two years, in some cases.  Regular career people get their jobs like most everyone else does - political appointees do not.  I'm not sure why you don't see the point.

    Excuse me (none / 0) (#35)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 10:48:15 AM EST
    you do not have to be in a union to not be an at will employee.

    Specifically in the government context, there is a civil service regime.

    I do not see you point at all and frankly, this discussion is boring and pointless. I should have ignored your first comment.


    Maybe you could respond to (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Anne on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 11:23:47 AM EST
    Glenn's take on whether she can sue Breitbart and if so, on what basis:

    Possibly. If someone purposely distorts a video to cast false aspersions on you, that's a form of defamation and other tortious conduct that's probably actionable. As a practical matter, it's probably difficult to prove damages (if she is offered her job back). Beyond that, Breitbart is claiming it wasn't him but his "source" who did the editing, and you'd probably have to have a fight over whether he can conceal the source's identity under some sort of shield law. But there's little question that she was defamed and injured through wrongful and likely actionable conduct.

    I think there could be claims against Breitbart either way because, as I said, I think it was clear even from the video in edited form that she was making the opposite point of the one he claimed she was making. That's a form of recklessness that could be actionable even if he wasn't the one who did the editing.

    Finally, I think it'd be worth it to sue him just to uncover his "source" who did the editing. "Journalists" are supposed to expose their "sources" if they use the journalist to perpetrate a fraud.

    In my own opinion, I think Sherrod has acquitted herself with courage in this matter, and has proven to be possibly the only party to this mess with any character or integrity - and nothing that happens in a courtroom or attorney's offices is going to improve on that.


    You probably should have (none / 0) (#41)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 01:18:43 PM EST
    Because my question wasn't answered.  Yes, government at will employees can sue for things like wrongful termination, but political appointees probably cannot. That's why I asked about her status.



    Obama (none / 0) (#14)
    by NYShooter on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:12:22 AM EST
    should, sincerely, reach out to her, and give her a position in the White House.

    I hope this incident is the epiphany he needs so desperately to begin turning things around. She seems like the perfect opposite bookend to Rahm, and could provide the quiet, dignified, input our Arrogant-Man also desperately needs.


    Breitbart (none / 0) (#25)
    by star on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:29:06 AM EST
    Did not believe any one other that total wingers took this fellow seriously.. apparently wrong assumption, WH and NAACP and Vilsack seems to be take his Opinion very seriously ;)
    I would like to hear from NAACP, why they did not even bother to look at the tape in its entirety - especially when they seem to be the only one who had the original and unedited version of it .  

    Oy (none / 0) (#38)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 12:01:19 PM EST
    No one, not even most of the wingers, takes Breitbart's opinion seriously.  This flap didn't happen because of his opinion, it happened because of the video he posted.

    The NAACP DID NOT have the full video until yesterday.  All they had is what everybody else had, the conveniently shortened video that Breitbart posted and every media outlet played.


    Breitbart had full knowledge (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by waldenpond on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:48:25 AM EST
    Breitbart was on CNN and was trying to hedge when pushed, but he admitted he was fully aware there was extended video, manipulated events so he was getting edited video, he states that he personally has more video that makes Sherrod look bad.  He insists he cares nothing for Sherrod and was only out to attack the NAACP.  I don't believe having someone else edit the tape for you would be a defense.

    Free speech has shown Breitbart to be a disturbed person.


    What Breitbart did (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by star on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 10:30:37 AM EST
    or did not know or did with that knowledge would have been irrelevant , had the NAACP and WH and Vlasack not acted in a knee jerk fashion. That they did not bother to investigate the matter in a fair manner is the most rankling issue for me.
    Had they rebutted the Breitbart tape with the original complete version, instead of pushing her to resign , we wouldn't be having this discussion and Breitbart  would have been thoroughly and publically discredited.

    More evidence (none / 0) (#10)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:59:06 AM EST
    Of amateur hour

    Absolutly (none / 0) (#17)
    by star on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:22:05 AM EST
    NAACP had the tape in its entirety the whole time. What stopped them from taking a look at it BEFORE She was targeted? They are the champions of civil rights, but were ready to act as puppets for a WH obsessed with PC.

    What business does WH have to jump into these matters,when there are far more important stuff they need to be focused on.This is totally amateurish of this admin.

    Almost everybody in this country know by now that Journalists and pseudo journalists will Do (or NOT DO) anything to advance their agenda. Journalism died in this country somewhere in the last 10 years.


    Watch FOX News (none / 0) (#22)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:27:27 AM EST
    Or read the messages coming out to show you a slice of "the media" will do anything to promote their agenda.

    Coming out (none / 0) (#24)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:28:39 AM EST
    From Journo-list

    Wrong (none / 0) (#39)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 12:05:53 PM EST
    NAACP DID NOT have the whole tape the entire time, for heaven's sakes.  They didn't get it until yesterday.

    Sec'y really shouldn't (none / 0) (#19)
    by vicndabx on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:26:55 AM EST
    They should offer her a public apology and give her recompense in the form of a gov't pension/retirement.

    The WH could then pivot and go after those who intially attempted to exploit this.

    So Obama will flip-flop? (none / 0) (#37)
    by Cream City on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 11:48:05 AM EST
    The White House stance on this, as reported in my morning paper, certainly suggests otherwise -- "we will stand firm," etc.

    The WH already has changed course (none / 0) (#40)
    by Farmboy on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 12:16:46 PM EST
    in light of the full tape and the media. They've gone from backing Vilsack's decision after he told them what he did to ordering Vilsack to review his decision.

    Vilsack needs to make a full apology for screwing up/being a coward, and the Obama needs to make an apology for appointing him in the first place - and also for being a coward if the tik-tok isn't true.