A tale of two Marvins

Marvin Pomerantz, a Des Moines-area businessman who is a Republican, was appointed to the Board of Regents by former Republican Governor Terry Branstad years ago.  Pomerantz wound up being president of the Board (not a shocker, since that’s what Branstad wanted), and Pomerantz led efforts to cut "duplication" at the three state-supported universities.  (He also pressured lawmakers to spend lots of money on facilities at the schools, and pressured the universities to get more involved in economic development.)

Michael Gartner, a Des Moines-area businessman who is a  Democrat, was appointed to the Board of Regents by soon-to-be-former Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack a few years ago.  Gartner wound up being president of the Board (not a shocker, since that’s what Vilsack wanted). 

Gartner and Pomerantz have had remarkably similar styles in their Regents tenures.  Both have pushed through their own agenda, piling up lots of opponents along the way.

On Tuesday, Pomerantz was leading the Institute for Tomorrow’s Workforce meeting and on his way out the door, Radio Iowa’s Dar Danielson asked Pomerantz to share his views of the current controversy surrounding current Regents president Gartner.  Pomerantz seemed to defend Gartner.  (Radio Iowa story)

On Wednesday, Pomerantz said down with the Des Moines Register’s editorial board, and his comments were remarkably different.  (Des Moines Register story)

Late Wednesday, after Gartner had taped "Iowa Press" out at IPTV (it airs at 7:30 Friday night), Gartner was asked by Register reporter Jonathan Roos to respond to Pomerantz’s contention that it was a mistake to appoint Gartner to the Board of Regents because Gartner doesn’t have the right leadership style and likes to be combative:  "Marvin lobbied hard against my appointment to the board, then he lobbied hard against my confirmation and then he lobbied hard against my election as president.  I like Marvin a lot, but he’s trying to settle some old scores from when I was the editor of your newspaper, Jon, we clashed periodically and this is just Marvin kind of venting about that.  That’s fine."

During the "Iowa Press" taping, Gartner was asked the following question by AP reporter Mike Glover:  "What’s your legacy at the Board of Regents?  We talk about Marvin Pomerantz, his legacy was he got the institutions involved in economic development…"

"Where he sold WOI?" Gartner interrupted, referencing the Board of Regents decision to sell Iowa State University-owned WOI television.

"There was that, too," Glover responded.

Gartner jumped back in:  "I don’t think about legacies, Mike.  I just think about what’s right to do for these universities and I think every Regent thinks that way and I think the moment you start thinking about your legacy is the moment you should get the hell out and go do something else."

"And your term is through 2011 and you’ll…" Glover said.

"It’s through, yeah, I guess it is through 2011, isn’t it?" Gartner replied.  "My term as president has another 15 months to go but my term on the Regents, a six-year-term — I’ve got four more years to go."


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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.