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Iowa Press #2744 - Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson
July 2, 2000

Borg: ONCE DESCRIBED AS A POLITICAL NEWCOMER, IOWA'S LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR SALLY PEDERSON HAS EVOLVED INTO A POLITICAL VETERAN AND A VALUED MEMBER IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK. WE'LL REVIEW THE FIRST 18 MONTHS IN OFFICE AND WHAT'S AHEAD WITH LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR SALLY PEDERSON ON THIS EDITION OF IOWA PRESS.

FUNDING FOR IOWA PRESS WAS PROVIDED BY FRIENDS OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.

THIS IS THE SUNDAY, JULY 2ND EDITION OF IOWA PRESS. HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: THE POSITION OF LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR IS A BIT LIKE THAT OF THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IN THAT VERY FEW CONSTITUTIONAL DUTIES ARE OFFICIALLY DEFINED. SOME NOTE THERE IS A LOT OF POMP, BUT NOT MUCH CIRCUMSTANCE. WELL, DURING THE CAMPAIGN OF 1998, GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK VOWED THAT WOULDN'T BE THE CASE IN HIS ADMINISTRATION. HIS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, HE SAID, WOULD BE A FULL PARTNER IN DEVELOPING POLICY. AND THAT HAS BEEN THE CASE FOR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR SALLY PEDERSON. THERE ARE OFFICIAL AND CEREMONIAL DUTIES, BUT LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR PEDERSON ALSO REPRESENTS THE ADMINISTRATION ON A HOST OF COMMISSIONS AND BOARDS, SO IT'S BEEN A BUSY 18 MONTHS. SALLY PEDERSON, WELCOME TO IOWA PRESS.

Pederson: THANK YOU, DEAN.

Borg: AND ACROSS THE TABLE, IOWA PRESS STATEHOUSE REPORTERS JENEANE BECK OF KUNI PUBLIC RADIO, AND MIKE GLOVER OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.

Glover: GOVERNOR PEDERSON, ONE OF THE BIGGEST ISSUES FACING THIS ADMINISTRATION AND ADMINISTRATIONS ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW ARE SOARING GASOLINE PRICES. THERE'S BEEN A PROPOSAL TO SUSPEND THE GAS TAX TO HELP MAKE THAT UP. WHAT'S THE FUTURE OF THAT PROPOSAL IN IOWA?

Pederson: WELL, AS YOU WELL KNOW, WE'VE ALREADY HAD A MEETING WITH THE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS TO TALK ABOUT WHAT THE POSSIBILITIES ARE, AND WE HAVE ANOTHER MEETING SCHEDULED FOR TUESDAY. CURRENTLY WE HAVE OUR STAFF LOOKING AT WHAT THE OPTIONS ARE. I'M HAPPY TO SEE, AS I DROVE OUT HERE TODAY, THAT GASOLINE PRICES ARE ALREADY FALLING. I SAW $1.65 FOR GAS AT A STATION AS I CAME OUT HERE TO THE STUDIO. I THINK THAT PROBABLY IS A RESULT OF THE FTC TAKING A LOOK AT WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH GAS PRICES, SO THAT'S A GOOD THING. SO IN THE SHORT TERM, I HOPE THAT WE CAN DO SOMETHING THAT WILL HELP WORKING FAMILIES WHO ARE REALLY HAVING TO PAY THESE HIGH GAS PRICES. BUT IN THE LONG TERM, I THINK THE ANSWER REALLY IS INCREASED USE OF ETHANOL. THAT'S AN AREA WHERE GOVERNOR VILSACK HAS SHOWN A GREAT DEAL OF LEADERSHIP; AND THIS ADMINISTRATION IS TRYING TO PUT PRESSURE AT A NATIONAL LEVEL TO INCREASE THAT USE.

Glover: BOTTOM LINE, WILL THE STATE'S GAS TAX GET SUSPENDED OR WON'T IT?

Pederson: WELL, WE DON'T KNOW THAT EXACTLY, BUT I THINK, FOR SURE, WE WILL DO SOMETHING THAT WILL HELP REDUCE THE PRICES FOR CONSUMERS. WE WANT TO BE SURE THAT, WHATEVER WE DO, THAT REACHES THE POCKETS OF CONSUMERS.

Beck: IF YOU WOULD SUSPEND THE GAS TAX, EXPERTS HAVE SAID THAT COULD CREATE A $65- TO $100-MILLION HOLE IN THE ROAD-USE FUND. WOULD YOU MAKE THAT MONEY UP? AND IF YOU DO, WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

Pederson: WELL, WE'RE CONCERNED ABOUT REDUCING THE FUNDS THAT ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE ROAD-USE CONSTRUCTION, AND SO THAT'S PART OF THE MIX IN LOOKING AT IDEAS FOR WHAT WE CAN DO. WE'VE GOT VERY CREATIVE AND INNOVATIVE PEOPLE LOOKING AT THIS, AND I THINK WE'LL COME UP WITH AN IDEA THAT WILL TAKE ALL THOSE THINGS INTO CONSIDERATION AND STILL HELP THE CONSUMER WHO'S PAYING HIGH PRICES AT THE GAS PUMP.

Glover: YOU MENTIONED, EARLIER, ETHANOL AS A PART OF THIS WHOLE SOLVING THE GAS PRICE MIX. THIS OUGHT TO BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ETHANOL WHICH IS, AFTER ALL, AN ALTERNATIVE FUEL; AND YET ETHANOL IN MANY PARTS OF THE COUNTRY IS TAKING A RAP AS CAUSING THE PROBLEM HERE.

Pederson: THAT'S RIGHT. AND ETHANOL IS NOT PART OF THE PROBLEM, IT'S PART OF THE SOLUTION.

Glover: THEN HOW COME IT'S GETTING BLAMED IN SO MANY PARTS OF THE COUNTRY?

Pederson: WELL, I THINK THAT'S A CURIOUS THING, AND I SUSPECT THAT THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY WOULD LIKE TO SEE ETHANOL GET THE BLAME BECAUSE THEY'RE PROBABLY NOT IN FAVOR OF SEEING INCREASED USE OF ETHANOL. THAT'S WHY WE HAVE TO SPEAK PRETTY POWERFULLY TO PROMOTE THE USE OF ETHANOL, AND WE HAVE IN A NUMBER OF WAYS. WE'RE CERTAINLY WORKING WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL TOM MILLER TO INVESTIGATE WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THESE PRICES.

Glover: SO HOW DO YOU TURN IT AROUND? HOW DO YOU MAKE ETHANOL THE SAVIOR AND NOT THE VILLAIN?

Pederson: PART OF IT IS PROBABLY MARKETING, DOING A BETTER JOB OF EDUCATING PEOPLE ABOUT THE LONG-TERM BENEFITS OF ETHANOL. IT IMPROVES OUR ENVIRONMENT, CREATES CLEANER AIR, AND WE NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB OF MARKETING ETHANOL.

Glover: SO YOU CALL THE CORN GROWERS AND SAY "HIRE A NEW P.R. FIRM."

Pederson: WELL, THE CORN GROWERS ARE PART OF IT, BUT WE'RE CERTAINLY DOING OUR PART. THE GOVERNOR IS THE CHAIR OF THE 24-STATE ETHANOL COALITION, AND HE'S TAKEN A REAL LEADERSHIP ROLE IN PROMOTING ETHANOL USE.

Borg: BUT ARE THERE SOME REALLY SHORT-TERM STRATEGIES TO TURN AROUND THAT IMAGE THAT'S BEING DISTORTED RIGHT NOW? DO YOU HAVE ANY?

Pederson: I DON'T HAVE ANY SPECIFIC STRATEGIES THAT I CAN LIST OFF TO YOU TODAY, BUT I THINK THERE'S BEEN AN ONGOING EFFORT. THIS HASN'T JUST STARTED SINCE THE PRICE OF GASOLINE HAS GONE UP. THIS HAS BEEN SOMETHING THAT THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN WORKING ON FOR THE LAST 16 MONTHS.

Borg: GAS PRICES MAY BE A SHORT-TERM PROBLEM, BUT A LONG-TERM PROBLEM IS WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT IN IOWA. THAT'S BEEN A BIG ASSIGNMENT FOR YOU. WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE?

Pederson: WELL, WE HAVE VERY LOW UNEMPLOYMENT, AS YOU KNOW. WE HAVE ALMOST THREE YEARS STRAIGHT UNEMPLOYMENT BELOW 3 PERCENT. WE'RE THE LOWEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN THE NATION. AT THE SAME TIME, WE HAVE MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ELIGIBLE TO WORK ALREADY IN THE WORKFORCE. WE HAVE THE LARGEST NUMBER OF TWO-PARENT FAMILIES WITH BOTH PARENTS WORKING.

Borg: DOES WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, THOUGH, MEAN INCREASED NUMBERS OF WORKERS, OR DOES IT MEAN DEVELOPING MORE VALUE- ADDED OF SKILLS FOR THOSE WE HAVE?

Pederson: ACTUALLY, DEAN, IT MEANS BOTH. I CHAIRED THE GOVERNOR'S 21st-CENTURY WORKFORCE COUNCIL, AS YOU KNOW. WE CAME UP WITH A NUMBER OF RECOMMENDATIONS THAT HAVE TO DO BOTH WITH INCREASED SKILL TRAINING FOR THE WORKERS THAT WE CURRENTLY HAVE; RECRUITING PEOPLE TO COME BACK TO THE STATE; FORMER IOWANS, AND WE CERTAINLY HAVE BEEN AGGRESSIVE ABOUT THAT. THE GOVERNOR AND THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS HOSTED FOUR RECEPTIONS IN CITIES THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES WHERE THERE ARE A LARGE NUMBER OF ALUMNI FROM COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES IN IOWA, STRESSING THE IMPORTANCE OF COMING BACK TO IOWA AND THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT ARE HERE. WE'VE HAD VERY GOOD RESULTS FROM THAT. WE KNOW FROM FOLLOW-UP THAT AT LEAST 100 PEOPLE WHO ATTENDED THOSE RECEPTIONS HAVE COME BACK TO IOWA AS A DIRECT RESULT OF ATTENDING THOSE RECEPTIONS AND BEING INVITED BACK. THAT'S A MESSAGE THAT ALL OF US CAN CARRY TO PEOPLE THAT WE KNOW WHO HAVE LEFT THE STATE. TELL THEM THERE ARE JOB OPPORTUNITIES HERE, WE NEED THEM, WE'D LOVE TO HAVE THEM COME BACK.

Beck: IS INCREASED IMMIGRATION ALSO AN ANSWER TO THE WORKFORCE SHORTAGE?

Pederson: IMMIGRATION IS CERTAINLY A PIECE OF IT, AND I'M VERY PLEASED THAT THE LEGISLATURE TOOK UP ONE OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE 21st-CENTURY WORKFORCE COUNCIL, AND THAT WAS TO FUND NEW-IOWAN RESOURCE CENTERS. WE JUST HAD A MEETING THIS PAST WEEK WITH PEOPLE FROM OUR WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. WE ARE GOING TO BE PILOTING TWO SITES HERE IN THE STATE OF IOWA FOR NEW-IOWANS CENTERS, AND THOSE CENTERS WILL HELP WITH ALL THE MYRIAD OF CHALLENGES THAT NEW IMMIGRANTS FACE AND THAT COMMUNITIES FACE AS NEW IMMIGRANTS COME INTO THEIR COMMUNITIES. THERE WILL ALSO BE TWO TO THREE OTHER SITES WHERE WE'LL START SOME OUTREACH PROGRAMS AS WELL.

Beck: WHEN WILL THOSE OPEN UP AND WHERE WILL THE TWO FIRST CENTERS BE?

Pederson: WE'VE NARROWED THE LIST OF COMMUNITIES BEING CONSIDERED DOWN TO ABOUT FIVE OR SIX BUT HAVEN'T MADE THE FINAL SELECTION YET. WE'RE TRYING TO FASTTRACK THAT, BUT WE WANT TO DO IT RIGHT. SO WE'LL TAKE THE AMOUNT OF TIME NECESSARY IN ORDER TO DO IT RIGHT.

Glover: ONE OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THIS COMMITTEE THAT'S BEEN CHARTING A STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE STATE WAS TO INCREASE IMMIGRATION INTO THE STATE. YOU'VE TALKED ABOUT INCREASING IMMIGRATION AND MAKING THAT A WAY TO EXPAND THE WORKFORCE. IS IOWA -- AND THERE HAVE ALSO BEEN SUGGESTIONS THAT MAKING IOWA MORE DIVERSE WOULD MAKE IT A MORE INTERESTING PLACE TO LIVE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE. IS IOWA READY TO BE DIVERSE? IS THIS LILY-WHITE POPULATION WE HAVE HERE READY TO ACCEPT PEOPLE OF COLOR, PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT?

Pederson: YOU KNOW, WE DON'T REALLY HAVE A CHOICE ABOUT THAT. IF WE'RE GOING TO BE COMPETITIVE IN A GLOBAL MARKETPLACE, WE NEED TO LOOK LIKE THE PEOPLE THAT WE'RE TRYING TO SELL PRODUCTS TO AND DO BUSINESS WITH. YOU REALLY CAN'T DO BUSINESS WITH PEOPLE ON AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND THEM AND UNDERSTAND THEIR CULTURE. IT WILL REALLY HELP IOWA TO BE MORE COMPETITIVE IF WE HAVE A MORE DIVERSE POPULATION.

Glover: HOW DO YOU GET THERE? HOW DO YOU TAKE A STATE WHICH DOESN'T LIKE CHANGE -- I MEAN, THIS IS A PRETTY STATUS QUO STATE. IT DOESN'T LIKE A LOT OF CHANGE. IT'S NOT VERY DIVERSE. HOW DO YOU, MECHANICALLY, HOW DO YOU GET THAT POPULATION INTO A MODE WHERE IT'S WILLING TO ACCEPT NEW FACES, NEW PEOPLE OF COLOR, NEW DIVERSITY? HOW DO YOU GET THERE?

Pederson: YOU KNOW, PEOPLE LIKE TO SAY THAT IOWANS DON'T LIKE TO CHANGE, BUT I ALSO THINK THAT A PIECE OF OUR HERITAGE IS THAT WE'RE A VERY WELCOMING STATE. CERTAINLY BACK IN THE '70S, UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF GOVERNOR BOB RAY, WE WERE A VERY WELCOMING STATE TO PEOPLE WHO NEEDED A HOME. SOUTHEAST ASIANS, WE INVITED THEM TO COME HERE. I THINK PART OF THE SUCCESS OF THAT PROGRAM WAS THAT IT WASN'T JUST A GOVERNMENT WELCOMING. GOVERNOR RAY ALSO HAD THE COOPERATION, THE LEADERSHIP OF THE FAITH-BASED COMMUNITY AND, GENERALLY, COMMUNITIES AND FAMILIES THAT WANTED TO HELP THESE PEOPLE RELOCATE AND WELCOME THEM TO OUR STATE. THEY CERTAINLY HAVE BEEN A VERY STRONG PART OF OUR GROWING ECONOMY. I THINK WHEN YOU LOOK TODAY AT THE GRADUATION PICTURES OF THE TOP STUDENTS GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOLS ALL OVER IOWA, YOU FREQUENTLY SEE SOME OF THE SOUTHEAST ASIAN SECOND-GENERATION STUDENTS AMONG THOSE. SO WE CAN BE VERY PROUD OF THAT.

Glover: IS SOMETHING LIKE THAT NEEDED AGAIN, ANOTHER SOUTHEAST ASIAN PROGRAM?

Pederson: WELL, I THINK, WE NEED TO LOOK BACK TO THAT PART OF OUR HERITAGE AS BEING A WELCOMING STATE AND HELP COMMUNITIES UNDERSTAND HOW THEY CAN DO THAT AGAIN AND ENGAGE MORE SEGMENTS OF THE COMMUNITY TO HELP WITH THAT. AND I THINK -- THIS WEEKEND WE'LL BE CELEBRATING THE 4th OF JULY IN TWO DAYS. WE SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT AMERICA OFFERS FOR PEOPLE FROM OTHER COUNTRIES. THAT'S PART OF OUR HERITAGE TOO, AND THAT'S PART OF IOWA'S HERITAGE.

Beck: THIS ALL AS THE IOWA LEGISLATURE CONTINUES TO TRY TO PASS AN ENGLISH-ONLY BILL. IS THERE SOMETHING THAT STATE GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO DO TO HELP IMMIGRANTS ONCE THEY REACH THE STATE BESIDES THESE WELCOMING CENTERS? OFTENTIMES LANGUAGE IS THE BIGGEST BARRIER. DOES THERE NEED TO BE MORE MONEY OR FOCUS ON ENGLISH-AS-A-SECOND-LANGUAGE COURSES, MAYBE, IN THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES, AT BETTER TIMES, EASIER AVAILABILITY, TO HELP THIS TRANSITION AS WE WELCOME THEM IN?

Pederson: ABSOLUTELY. ENGLISH-ONLY LAWS ARE A BAD AND A NEGATIVE SIGN FOR IOWA, AND I AM HAPPY THAT WE DIDN'T EVEN REALLY DEAL WITH THAT SERIOUSLY THIS LAST LEGISLATIVE SESSION. BUT ENGLISH-AS-A-SECOND-LANGUAGE PROGRAMS, THEY NEED TO BE FUNDED PARTLY BY GOVERNMENT. CERTAINLY COMMUNITY COLLEGES CAN PLAY A ROLE IN THAT. BUT THERE ARE ALSO MANY FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE HELPING WITH --

Beck: BUSINESSES, POSSIBLY?

Pederson: AND CERTAINLY BUSINESSES CAN HELP WITH ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE. THROUGH MY VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES, I WAS HELPING AT HAWTHORN HILL, WHICH IS LOCATED HERE IN DES MOINES, AND THEY HAVE AN ENGLISH-AS-A-SECOND-LANGUAGE PROGRAM THERE. THEY WORK WITH SUDANESE, WITH SOUTHEAST ASIANS, WITH BOSNIANS WHO COME HERE AND NEED TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE. IT WAS A REAL LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR ME TO SEE THE KINDS OF OBSTACLES AND BARRIERS THAT THESE PEOPLE FACE WHEN THEY'RE PUT IN A NEW CULTURE AND HAVE A LANGUAGE BARRIER, BUT ALSO A CULTURAL BARRIER TO LEARN ABOUT.

Glover: ANOTHER GROUP THAT PEOPLE HAVE TALKED ABOUT BRINGING INTO THE WORKPLACE ARE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. WHAT CAN THE STATE DO TO BRING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES INTO THE WORKPLACE BEYOND THE "AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT"?

Pederson: THAT'S ANOTHER AREA WHERE THE WORKFORCE COUNCIL MADE RECOMMENDATIONS, AND THE LEGISLATURE TOOK UP ONE OF THOSE RECOMMENDATIONS. WE HAVE FUNDING NOW FOR NEW-OPPORTUNITIES-EMPLOYMENT FUND, WHICH IS MONEY THAT'S SET ASIDE TO HELP REMOVE THE BARRIERS THAT KEEP THESE POPULATIONS OUT OF THE WORKFORCE. IT HAS BEEN SPECIFICALLY TARGETED TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND MINORITY GROUPS, WHICH HAVE REALLY HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT RATES, ESPECIALLY AS COMPARED TO THE REST OF THE POPULATION IN IOWA. SO THIS PROGRAM WILL HAVE FLEXIBILITY SO IT CAN ADDRESS THE SPECIFIC BARRIERS THAT AN INDIVIDUAL IS FACING AND NOT TRY TO BE ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE BUT TRY TO REALLY TAILOR THOSE FUNDS TO WHAT'S NEEDED IN ORDER FOR THAT PERSON TO BECOME EMPLOYED. THAT MIGHT BE TRANSPORTATION. THAT MIGHT BE CHILD CARE. THAT MIGHT BE A JOB COACH. THAT MIGHT BE A PERSONAL ASSISTANT. SO THERE ARE A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT WAYS THAT THOSE FUNDS CAN BE USED.

Beck: BUSINESSES OFTEN COMPLAIN THAT IT'S TOO EXPENSIVE OR TOO HARD TO COMPLY WITH "AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT" RULES AND REGULATIONS IN BRINGING THEIR FACILITIES UP TO STANDARDS. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THAT?

Pederson: THAT'S SOMETHING THAT GETS TALKED ABOUT A LOT, AND WE ACTUALLY KNOW THAT, ON AVERAGE, THE COST OF AN ACCOMMODATION FOR A PERSON WITH A DISABILITY IN THE WORKPLACE IS VERY MINIMAL. $50 IS OFTENTIMES THE FIGURE THAT IS QUOTED AND IS SUPPORTED BY STATISTICAL DATA. SO I THINK THAT IT'S MORE OF A CULTURAL BARRIER THAT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES FACE BECAUSE THEY'VE BEEN OUT OF THE WORKFORCE, THEY'VE BEEN OUT OF THE WORKPLACE, AND PEOPLE ARE OFTENTIMES FEARFUL OF WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW OR UNDERSTAND. THIS FUND WHICH I SPOKE ABOUT, I THINK, WILL HELP GET OVER THAT HURDLE. SOME OF THAT MONEY CAN BE USED ACTUALLY AS INCENTIVES FOR THE BUSINESSES TO HIRE AN INDIVIDUAL WITH A DISABILITY OR AN INDIVIDUAL FROM A MINORITY GROUP. SO I THINK THOSE ARE SOME OF THE WAYS THAT GOVERNMENT CAN BE HELPFUL.

Glover: MANY PEOPLE SAY THAT THE SIGNATURE ISSUE OF THE 2000 LEGISLATURE WAS A THING CALLED "VISION 2000," THE "MILLENNIUM FUND" -- WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT. THE $300 MILLION POT OF MONEY LARGELY BEING USED HELPING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS DEVELOP BIG PROJECTS LIKE ARENAS, STADIUMS, AND SO FORTH AND SO ON. WHERE DOES THAT STAND AND WHAT ARE THE LEADING PROSPECTS FOR THE USE OF THAT MONEY RIGHT NOW?

Pederson: WELL, THE GOVERNOR AND I ARE NOT THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THE DECISION ABOUT WHO WILL ACTUALLY BENEFIT.

Glover: BUT YOU NAME THE BOARD THAT DOES AND YOU HAVE A HAND IN IT.

Pederson: THAT'S RIGHT, AND WE HAVE JUST BEEN MEETING THIS PAST WEEK LOOKING AT NAMES OF PEOPLE UNDER CONSIDERATION. TO BEGIN, WE SENT OUT ABOUT 2,000 LETTERS AROUND THE STATE ASKING PEOPLE TO SUBMIT NAMES OF PEOPLE THEY FELT WOULD BE QUALIFIED TO SERVE ON THIS COMMITTEE, THIS COUNCIL. SO WE WERE VERY IMPRESSED WITH THE LIST OF NAMES THAT WE HAD TO LOOK AT AND TO CHOOSE FROM. WE CONSIDER ONE OF THE BASIC CRITERIA THAT A PERSON NEEDS TO HAVE IN ORDER TO SERVE ON THIS COMMITTEE IS THAT THEY HAVE A STATEWIDE VIEW OF WHAT'S GOOD FOR THE STATE AND THAT THEY'RE NOT ON THAT COMMITTEE JUST TO LOOK OUT FOR THEIR OWN REGION OR THEIR OWN COMMUNITY.

Glover: DO YOU HAVE A TIMETABLE FOR PUTTING THAT GROUP TOGETHER?

Pederson: WE'LL PROBABLY BE NAMING THOSE IN THE NEXT WEEK TO TWO WEEKS.

Glover: IS THERE SOME WAY THAT YOU CAN MOLLIFY RURAL IOWA? A LOT OF PEOPLE IN RURAL IOWA THINK THIS IS JUST A POT OF MONEY THAT'S GOING TO HELP PLACES LIKE CEDAR RAPIDS, PLACES LIKE DES MOINES, PLACES LIKE THE QUAD CITIES, AND THERE'S NOTHING IN IT FOR RURAL IOWA. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY TO EASE THOSE CONCERNS?

Pederson: WELL, I CERTAINLY THINK WE NEED TO STOP THIS DIALOGUE THAT PITS URBAN AND RURAL AREAS AGAINST EACH OTHER, BECAUSE IF IOWA IS GOING TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE, IT WILL BE BECAUSE WE'RE ALL WORKING TOGETHER. MOST PARTS OF THIS STATE REALLY THINK OF THEMSELVES AS A REGIONAL AREA. PEOPLE LIVE WITHIN A RADIUS OF ONE OF THESE LARGER COMMUNITIES THAT WILL PROBABLY BENEFIT FROM THIS FUND. BUT IN ADDITION TO THE MONIES THAT ARE AVAILABLE FOR PROJECTS THAT ARE $20 MILLION OR OVER, THERE'S ALSO $50 MILLION THAT'S AVAILABLE TO SMALLER COMMUNITIES FOR USE FOR SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE. I THINK THAT'S ONE WAY IN WHICH WE HELP ADDRESS THAT ISSUE THAT -- YOU KNOW, SMALLER COMMUNITIES, FOR MANY OF THEM, THEIR CENTER OF ATTRACTION IS THEIR SCHOOL.

Glover: SO PEOPLE IN DEAN'S HOMETOWN OF MOUNT VERNON OUGHT TO FEEL GOOD IF CEDAR RAPIDS GETS SOMETHING?

Pederson: SURE. I THINK SO, DEAN. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Borg: WELL, I HOPE SO. UP FRONT, WHEN I INTRODUCED YOU, I ASSUMED SOME THINGS ABOUT YOUR WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GOVERNOR, BUT I'D LIKE TO HEAR IT FROM YOUR OWN LIPS. DO YOU DEFER TO THE GOVERNOR FOR ASSIGNMENTS, OR DO YOU COME IN AND IDENTIFY ISSUES AND SAY, "THIS IS HOW I CAN ACT ON THIS"?

Pederson: WELL, IT'S A COMBINATION OF BOTH. I THINK ONE OF REASONS THAT I CHAIRED THE 21st-CENTURY WORKFORCE COUNCIL WAS THAT DURING OUR CAMPAIGN, THAT WAS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE SAID IF WE WERE ELECTED HE WOULD ASK ME TO DO. SO THAT WE KNEW, KIND OF, GOING IN. BUT THERE HAVE BEEN ISSUES THAT I FEEL ARE IMPORTANT, AND I BRING FORWARD AND SAY, "I WANT TO SEE US FOCUS ON THIS AND I'D LIKE TO TAKE THE LEAD."

Borg: TELL ME ONE OF THOSE.

Pederson: WELL, ONE OF THOSE WILL REALLY BE THIS NEXT LEGISLATIVE SESSION, AND THAT'S THE ISSUES OF ABUSE THAT HAPPEN IN IOWA... ABUSE OF CHILDREN, ABUSE OF DOMESTIC PARTNERS, AND ABUSE OF THE ELDERLY. THESE ARE ISSUES THAT IOWANS DON'T LIKE TO TALK ABOUT, BUT THERE'S A SERIOUS NEED TO LOOK AT THIS ISSUE AND I WANT TO PROVIDE SOME OF THE LEADERSHIP TO HELP US DO THAT AS AN ADMINISTRATION.

Borg: DO YOU HAVE A STANDING DAILY APPOINTMENT WITH THE GOVERNOR? OR WEEKLY?

Pederson: WELL, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THAT. JUST AFTER OUR ELECTION, THE GOVERNOR AND I TRAVELED TO WASHINGTON D.C. WE WERE ON OUR WAY TO THE NEW GOVERNOR'S CONFERENCE IN WILMINGTON. WE SPENT THE EVENING -- THE DAY AND THE EVENING IN WASHINGTON, AND WE WERE INVITED TO HAVE DINNER WITH THE VICE PRESIDENT AT HIS HOME. I EXPECTED THAT THERE WOULD BE A LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE THERE, BUT IT WAS ACTUALLY JUST THE GOVERNOR AND MYSELF HAVING DINNER, AND WE HAD TWO AND A HALF HOURS WITH THE VICE PRESIDENT. DURING THAT DINNER, I SAID, "YOU KNOW, DURING THE CAMPAIGN YOU SAID YOU WOULD TELL ME ABOUT WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE NUMBER TWO, SO I'M HERE TO GET SOME ADVICE." AND WE SHARED WITH THE VICE PRESIDENT THAT WE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A WORKING RELATIONSHIP SIMILAR TO WHAT HE AND THE PRESIDENT HAD. SO HE GAVE US SOME SPECIFIC IDEAS. ONE WAS THAT THE PRESIDENT MADE IT CLEAR THAT THE VICE PRESIDENT WAS WELCOME IN ANY MEETING AT ANY TIME AND THAT IT WAS UP TO HIM TO DECIDE WHEN HE WANTED TO BE PRESENT FOR A MEETING, AND SO WE DID THAT. I'M PART OF WHATEVER MEETINGS I CONSIDER TO BE WORTH MY TIME. IN ADDITION, HE SAID THAT HE AND THE PRESIDENT HAVE LUNCH TOGETHER OR BREAKFAST TOGETHER ONCE A WEEK WITHOUT ANY STAFF THERE SO THAT THEY CAN DISCUSS THE ISSUES THAT THEY WANT TO DISCUSS WITHOUT HAVING OTHER PEOPLE PRESENT AT THAT MEETING. SO THAT'S ANOTHER THING THAT WE DO. THOSE THINGS ARE HELPFUL BECAUSE IT KEEPS US CONNECTED.

Beck: YOU'RE OFTEN BROUGHT OUT DURING THE WEEKLY NEWS CONFERENCES. YOU STAND BESIDE THE GOVERNOR AND IT'S ALWAYS TALKED ABOUT AS YOU BEING A PARTNER OF THE GOVERNOR'S. BUT DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE SPEAKING FOR HIM? HOW COMFORTABLE DO YOU FEEL IN TAKING AN ACTIVE LEADERSHIP ROLE?

Pederson: WELL, THE GOVERNOR HAS SAID FROM THE BEGINNING THAT I DON'T HAVE A FREE RIDE HERE. YOU KNOW, I'M GETTING A CHECK TOO AND THERE'S PLENTY OF WORK TO DO, SO I TRY TO EARN MY PAYCHECK AND DO MY SHARE OF THE WORK. HE HAS SAID FROM THE BEGINNING THAT WHEN I SPEAK, I SPEAK FOR HIM. SO THAT MAKES ME NOT JUST OPEN MY MOUTH EVERY TIME A THOUGHT OCCURS TO ME, BUT MAYBE BE A LITTLE MORE THOUGHTFUL IN WHAT I SAY.

Glover: THIS WOULDN'T BE AN OFFICIAL IOWA PRESS SHOW IF WE DIDN'T TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT PURE POLITICS. BUT BEFORE WE GET THERE, I WANT TO BACK UP AND TALK ABOUT SOMETHING YOU JUST MENTIONED. YOU TALK ABOUT THE ROLE OF ABUSE -- DOING SOMETHING TO DEAL WITH ABUSE, DOMESTIC ABUSE. WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN MIND? STIFFER PENALTIES? BETTER ENFORCEMENT? WHAT'S YOUR IDEA FOR THAT?

Pederson: WELL, FIRST WE NEED TO JUST EDUCATE PEOPLE ABOUT ABUSE, NOT JUST IN IOWA, BUT ABUSE IN THE UNITED STATES, YOU KNOW. THERE HAVE BEEN MORE WOMEN KILLED IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS FROM DOMESTIC ABUSE, BY A FRIEND OR A PARTNER, THAN ALL OF THE PEOPLE -- ALL OF THE AMERICANS WHO WERE KILLED IN THE VIETNAM WAR. SO WHEN YOU THINK IN THOSE KINDS OF TERMS, THIS IS REALLY A BATTLE AND A WAR GOING ON. I THINK FIRST WE HAVE TO LET PEOPLE KNOW, BECAUSE THIS IS THE KIND OF THING THAT WE KEEP QUIET AND WE KEEP SECRET. WE NEED TO FIRST RAISE THE PUBLIC AWARENESS ABOUT ABUSE AND THAT IT HAPPENS EVEN HERE IN THIS WONDERFUL HEARTLAND OF IOWA. THEN WE NEED TO LOOK AT WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES TO PEOPLE GETTING THE KINDS OF PROTECTION THAT THEY NEED, WHETHER THAT'S AN ELDERLY PERSON WHO MAYBE CAN'T REPORT FOR THEMSELVES ON ABUSE OR WHETHER IT'S WOMEN WHO LIVE IN FEAR OF WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THEY DO SEEK HELP OR WHETHER IT'S CHILDREN AND WE DON'T HAVE MAYBE THE APPROPRIATE MONITORING AND SYSTEMS IN PLACE IN ORDER TO PREVENT ABUSE AND NEGLECT THERE.

Glover: BUT THERE WERE SOME TOUGHER PENALTIES PASSED JUST THIS LAST LEGISLATIVE SESSION. DO THOSE NEED TO BE TOUGHENED EVEN FURTHER?

Pederson: WE'LL HAVE TO SEE. I THINK THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WE'RE IN THE PROCESS NOW OF LOOKING AT, HAVING OUR DIRECTORS LOOK AT, AND WE'LL BE WORKING IN TEAMS. WE HAVE A TEAM OF PEOPLE THAT WORK ON SAFE-COMMUNITY ISSUES, AND THIS NOW WILL BE ONE OF THE ISSUES THAT WE FOCUS ON.

Glover: ISSUES SAFELY DISPOSED OF, LET'S GO TO POLITICS.

Pederson: ALL RIGHT.

Glover: ONE OF THE HOTTEST RACES THIS YEAR WILL BE THE FIGHT FOR CONTROL OF THE IOWA LEGISLATURE. DEMOCRATS ARE PUTTING A BIG RUN ON BOTH THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE. REPUBLICANS HAVE CONTROL NOW. WHAT WILL YOUR ROLE BE IN THOSE LEGISLATIVE CAMPAIGNS? WILL YOU BE ACTIVELY CAMPAIGNING FOR DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES, RAISING MONEY FOR THEM? WHAT WILL YOUR ROLE BE?

Pederson: WELL, I ALREADY AM ACTIVELY CAMPAIGNING FOR DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO THIS SUMMER AND THIS FALL. I THINK IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT. THE GOVERNOR AND I HAVE A VISION FOR THE STATE, AND IF WE DON'T HAVE A MAJORITY IN THE HOUSE OR SENATE, IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO INSTITUTE THE PROGRAMS THAT WE'RE TRYING TO INSTITUTE. I THINK WE WERE ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH A NUMBER OF THINGS THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION, BUT IT WASN'T WITHOUT A GREAT DEAL OF EFFORT. WE JUST DIDN'T HAVE SOME OF THE COOPERATION THAT WE NEED TO REALLY MOVE FORWARD IN A RAPID WAY.

Beck: GOVERNOR VILSACK HAS BEEN MENTIONED ON A LIST OF POSSIBLE VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES FOR AL GORE. IF THAT WERE TO HAPPEN, AS A POLITICAL NEWCOMER, ARE YOU READY TO STEP INTO THE ROLE OF GOVERNOR AND SHOULD IOWANS BE CONFIDENT THAT YOU ARE READY TO HANDLE THAT JOB?

Pederson: YOU KNOW, TWO YEARS AGO I WASN'T EVEN THINKING ABOUT BEING LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, SO I DON'T HAVE WHAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED A TRADITIONAL BACKGROUND OR A CAREER-CHARTED DIRECTION THAT I'M GOING. I'M IN THIS BECAUSE I WANT TO SERVE THE PUBLIC AND I WANT TO SERVE IOWA. I LOVE THIS STATE. I LOVE THE PEOPLE OF IOWA. AND WHATEVER IâM CALLED UPON TO DO, IâLL DO THE VERY BEST JOB I CAN TO DO IT.

Glover: THE MIDWEST, MOST STRATEGISTS SAY, IS THE BATTLEGROUND IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. THE WEST AND EAST ARE GOREâS. THE SOUTH IS BUSHâS. AND THE ELECTION WILL BE SETTLED IN THE MIDWEST. IOWA IS ONE OF THOSE BATTLEGROUND STATES. IT'S VOTED DEMOCRATIC IN THE LAST THREE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. IT'S UP FOR GRABS THIS TIME AROUND. WHAT WILL YOUR ROLE BE IN HELPING DELIVER IOWA'S SEVEN ELECTORIAL VOTES FOR AL GORE?

Pederson: WELL, PART OF IT, I THINK, IS THE LOCAL POLITICS, AND GETTING DEMOCRATS ENERGIZED AROUND THE LOCAL LEGISLATIVE RACES IS CERTAINLY IMPORTANT. YOU KNOW, THEY SAY ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL AND, TO SOME EXTENT, THAT'S TRUE. SO IF YOU'RE EXCITED ABOUT YOUR LOCAL DEMOCRAT WHO'S RUNNING AND YOU GO TO THE POLLS TO VOTE FOR THEM, THEN THAT'S GOING TO HELP THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL TICKET.

Beck: LET'S TALK ABOUT WOMEN IN POLITICS. HOW ARE WOMEN IN IOWA FARING, AND WHAT'S YOUR FUTURE IN POLITICS?

Pederson: WELL, I'D LIKE TO TALK ABOUT WOMEN IN POLITICS, BECAUSE I'VE REALLY TRIED TO ENCOURAGE -- AND SO HAS FIRST LADY CHRISTIE VILSACK -- ENCOURAGED MORE PARTICIPATION BY WOMEN AT ALL LEVELS. I THINK THAT IOWA WOULD BENEFIT IF WE HAD THE PERSPECTIVE OF MORE WOMEN INVOLVED. UNFORTUNATELY, IN IOWA, WE'VE NEVER SENT A WOMAN TO CONGRESS, AND WE HAVE, REALLY, ONLY 20 PERCENT OF THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE SEATS ARE HELD BY WOMEN CANDIDATES. ON THE HOUSE SIDE FOR DEMOCRATS, WE'VE DONE A REALLY GOOD JOB OF RECRUITING SOME TERRIFIC WOMEN CANDIDATES OF ALL AGES. JANET PETERSON, WHO IS A YOUNG PERSON NEW TO POLITICS, IS RUNNING FOR A HOUSE SEAT HERE IN THIS CENTRAL IOWA AREA. ANDREA ATTEBERRY IS RUNNING FOR A SEAT. SHE'S A GREAT CANDIDATE. I'M GOING TO BE GOING TO MY HOMETOWN OF VINTON TO HELP WITH AN EVENT THERE FOR ROSEMARY SCHWARTZ, ANOTHER GOOD PERSON I'D LOVE TO SEE ELECTED. I BELIEVE WE HAVE 14 WOMEN CHALLENGERS ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE, AND 9 WOMEN CANDIDATES WHO ARE RUNNING FOR REELECTION IN THE HOUSE. AND SO, IF WE COULD ELECT ALL OF THOSE, WE'LL MAKE A DENT IN THAT PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN WHO ARE THERE.

Glover: THERE WAS ANOTHER PORTION OF JENEANE'S QUESTION THAT I HAVEN'T HEARD ABOUT, AND THAT WAS YOUR FUTURE. WHAT PLANS DOES THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR HAVE?

Pederson: YOU KNOW, I DON'T HAVE A PLAN, AND THAT HAS WORKED FOR ME. AS I SAID, TWO YEARS AGO I WASN'T THINKING ABOUT BEING LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR. I'M TRYING TO DO THE BEST JOB I CAN DO. I HAVE MY HANDS FULL IN THE PRESENT POSITION I'M IN.

Glover: PLAY IT AS IT COMES?

Pederson: I'LL JUST SEE WHAT LIFE BRINGS ME.

Glover: WELL, PUT THAT VETERAN POLITICAL HAT ON FOR A SECOND AND HANDICAP THINGS FOR ME. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES THAT DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET ONE CHAMBER OF THE LEGISLATURE? WHAT ARE THE CHANCES THAT YOU'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO DELIVER THIS STATE FOR AL GORE?

Pederson: WELL, I THINK THE CHANCES ARE GOOD THAT YOU CAN DELIVER THE STATE FOR AL GORE. YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER, MIKE, THAT I'M AN OPTIMIST AND THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T THINK THAT TOM VILSACK AND I WOULD BE ELECTED, BUT I NEVER DOUBTED THAT BECAUSE I REALLY FELT THAT, WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO IT, AND PEOPLE HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMPARE THE CANDIDATES, AND DECIDE WHO THEY REALLY WANTED TO BE THE LEADER OF OUR STATE, THEY'D MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION. I THOUGHT THAT WAS VERY CLEAR. I THINK THAT WILL ALSO BE CLEAR AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL WHEN PEOPLE REALLY CONSIDER THE EXPERIENCE LEVEL THAT AL GORE HAS AND HIS BACKGROUND AND WHAT HE PRESENTS AS OPPOSED TO GEORGE W. BUSH.

Glover: THE CLIMATE IS RIGHT FOR DEMOCRATS?

Pederson: I BELIEVE IT IS.

Borg: I'M NOT QUITE SURE I BELIEVE YOU WHEN YOU SAY YOU OPERATE WITHOUT A PLAN, BUT I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT THE PEOPLE WHO PRODUCE THIS PROGRAM HAVE ONE, AND THEY TELL ME WE'RE OUT OF TIME. THANK YOU FOR BEING OUR GUEST.

Pederson: THANK YOU.

Borg: ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF IOWA PRESS, WE FOCUS ON THE CONTINUING CONTROVERSY OF RISING GASOLINE PRICES IN IOWA AND ACROSS THE UPPER MIDWEST. ATTORNEY GENERAL TOM MILLER HAS BEGUN AN INQUIRY INTO WHAT SOME CALL PRICE-GOUGING BY THE OIL COMPANIES. HE'LL DISCUSS THE PARAMETERS, THAT CONTROVERSY, AND POSSIBLE LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS NEXT SUNDAY AT NOON AND 7:00 HERE ON IOWA PRESS. OUR REMINDER AS WE LEAVE IS THAT IOWA PRESS IS NOW AVAILABLE ON THE WORLDWIDE WEB. IT'S ON YOUR SCREEN RIGHT NOW. WWW.IOWAPRESS.IPTV.ORG WE HAVE IOWA PRESS TRANSCRIPTS, REPORTER BIOS, COMMENTARY FROM IOWA PRESS REPORTERS, AND NEWS LINKS TO OTHER SOURCES ON TOPICS WE DEAL WITH. I HOPE THAT YOU'LL CLICK IN ON THE WORLDWIDE WEB. THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF IOWA PRESS. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

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