Thursday, January 05, 2006

Vilsack: Southern California Dreaming

The news grunts are doing their job. The Cedar Rapids Gazette, in a copyright story summarized in this AP piece from the Sioux City Journal, investigates the under the radar Vilsack travel adventures. (story link)

… The governor made stops in at least 23 states, the District of Columbia and two foreign countries in 2005.

Much of the travel was documented in his weekly public schedule, but some occurred with little explanation, according to information obtained by The Gazette through a Freedom of Information request.

On some occasions, the governor's weekly public schedule listed out-of-state travel, but made no mention of stops in other cities before he returned to Iowa. Other times, out-of-state travel was not mentioned at all.

For example, Vilsack visited Hawaii and New Jersey, attended a major league baseball exhibition game in Arizona, a pro football game in Buffalo, N.Y., and the Kentucky Derby. Some of the events were made public. Others were not.

In another example, his public schedule for the week of Oct. 24-28 listed his only event as a luncheon at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's annual public policy meeting in San Jose, Calif. However, internal staff scheduling documents show Vilsack traveled to Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Oakland earlier in the week.

A busy out of state schedule for the guy primarily responsible for managing Iowa’s state government, but he’s not worried.

…Vilsack said the higher level travel is "part of being a governor in America today."

He said he received some valuable information from those meetings that has benefited Iowa. …

… "I think we've figured out an appropriate balance and if I need to be somewhere to talk to somebody I'm going to do my job and I've done my job," Vilsack said. ...

Vilsack thinks it’s just part of being a governor in America today; particularly a governor with important titles in partisan Democratic groups, an Iowa financed national PAC, and future ambition. But according to Gary Dickey Jr., Vilsack’s policy director, it’s all good.

…While some of the travel is connected to Vilsack's role in the National Governors Association, the Democratic Leadership Council and Heartland PAC, much of the travel is policy related, Dickey said.

"For example, during his stops in California and New York, he learned about parent-liaison programs within schools and the efforts to provide health insurance relief to small businesses; both of which have become part of our agenda for next legislative session," Dickey said.

And these sorts of policy ideas are unavailable from Vilsack’s Iowa union pals and Wellmark cronies?

Nice try, but everybody knows the deal – secure a big spending legacy on a fiscally conservative canvas and get the hell out of Iowa before the bills come due. Funny, some future oriented Iowa taxpayers are thinking the same thing – get out before the bills come due.

The Iowa GOP is obviously hip to this habit; Vilsack’s been running this game for years. And to help “educate” the rest of the world they have worked up a rather slick little website, TravelingTom.com, to keep track of Vilsack’s out of state “policy” romps.


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