Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shirley Sherrod Offered Her Old Job Back - As Some Brand New Questions Arise

It appears the bus has gone into reverse and that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, after a conversation with Obama is begging her to hop back aboard - maybe with a promotion.

And why not? As far as I'm concerned, this woman is simply a class warfare kommissar who uses race to frame her entire reference. Why shouldn't she get her job back? She fits in perfectly with the Obama Administration.

Another side benefit for the Left is that this is conveniently timed to knock the air out of the latest revelations in the JournoList scandal..proof that major media figures involved in it conspired to kill the Jeremiah Wright scandal during the 2008 election, for instance.

Not to mention some tidbits like JournoList member Sarah Spitz saying that her fondest wish was to witness Rush Limbaugh having a fatal heart attack.

Or accusing Tea Party member of being Nazis and racists. Or calls to have the Federal government shut down Fox News.

Having Ms. Sherrod in the spotlight was very convenient for the lackeys and flacks of the Ruling Class.

And there's another back story I just became aware of thanks to blog pal and Newsbusters contributor Terry Trippany. You see if Shirley Sherrod goes back to work for the government, there are some major conflict of interest questions to be answered.

Her previous background and how and why she was hired might just also have had a little something to do with why she was thrown under the bus so quickly.

You see, only days before she was hired by USDA Secretary Vilsack, she and her husband made quite a juicy $13 million settlement with the Feds in a lawsuit involving New Communities, a group she founded with her husband and other families in Pigford vs Vilsack which involved minority farmers as plaintiffs, including the Sherrods:

The settlement acknowledged racial discrimination on the part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the years 1981-85. ... New Communities is due to receive approximately $13 million ($8,247,560 for loss of land and $4,241,602 for loss of income; plus $150,000 each to Shirley and Charles for pain and suffering). There may also be an unspecified amount in forgiveness of debt.


But this wasn't the first massive payout on the Pigford case, as Tom Blumer relates:

The Pigford matter goes back a long way, and to say the least has a checkered history, as this May 27, 2010 item at Agri-Pulse demonstrates (bolds are mine):

As part of a April 14, 1999 class action case settlement, commonly known as the Pigford case, U.S. taxpayers have already provided over $1 billion in cash, non-credit awards and debt relief to almost 16,000 black farmers who claimed that they were discriminated against by USDA officials as they “farmed or attempted to farm.” In addition, USDA’s Farm Service Agency spent over $166 million on salaries and expenses on this case from 1999-2009, according to agency records.

Members of Congress may approve another $1.15 billion this week to settle cases from what some estimate may be an additional 80,000 African-Americans who have also claimed to have been discriminated against by USDA staff.

... Settling this case is clearly a priority for the White House and USDA. Secretary Vilsack described the funding agreement reached between the Administration and advocates for black farmers early this year as “an important milestone in putting these discriminatory claims behind us for good and in achieving finality for this group of farmers with longstanding grievances."

However, confronted with the skyrocketing federal deficit, more officials are taking a critical look at the billion dollars spent thus far and wondering when these discrimination cases will ever end. Already, the number of people who have been paid and are still seeking payment will likely exceed the 26,785 black farmers who were considered to even be operating back in 1997, according to USDA. That’s the year the case initially began as Pigford v. (then Agriculture Secretary) Glickman and sources predicted that, at most, 3,000 might qualify.

At least one source who is extremely familiar with the issue and who asked to remain anonymous because of potential retribution, says there are a number of legitimate cases who have long been denied their payments and will benefit from the additional funding. But many more appear to have been solicited in an attempt to “game” the Pigford system.

Can you say 'reparations'? Sure you can.

But that leads to other questions.

Was Ms. Sharrod's employment with the USDA in a cushy political sinecure part of the arrangement for the settlement of the suit?

Why did the Sherrods receive a massive settlement for a combined $300,000 in "pain and suffering" payments, when the average payout in this suit is about $72,000?

New Communities ended its operations back in the 1980's, and a lot of the farmers in the original class action suit already signed off for the settlement they received. So what's being done with the $13 million in additional settlement money? Where did it go and who's getting it?

If the GOP takes the House and receives subpoena power, I'm sure this would be a productive area for prospective committee chair Darrel Issa to delve into. As a matter of fact, yours truly will be sending it his way.

As for Shirley Sherrod, she may some day be getting a lot more attention than she bargained for.

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1 comment:

B.Poster said...

"Reparations," that's exactly what I was thinking. I highly doubt that these cases ever had any merit to begin with. This looks like theft to me. Its one group of people, in this case New Communities, stealing money from another group of people, in this case the American Taxpayer. Normally we prosecute people for theft.