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Iowa chief’s letter borrows from 1999 Navy speech

By RYAN J. FOLEY | Sep 06, 2013

IOWA CITY (AP) — A resignation letter from Iowa’s ousted public safety chief contains several passages that are identical, or nearly identical, to a retirement speech given by a Navy captain in 1999, a comparison of the two revealed Thursday.

Public Safety Commissioner K. Brian London wrote the letter to employees Wednesday, one day after he submitted his resignation to Gov. Terry Branstad following a turmoil-filled 11-month tenure. Branstad said London did not understand Iowa’s public safety culture, and that many employees were concerned about his management style.

London wrote in the memo that he was resigning for personal reasons and that he believed his staff would “carry on quite well” after his departure.

“After all, when you take your hand out of a bucket of water, the hole does not long remain,” he wrote.

An identical line was included in a retirement ceremony speech by John Allen Williams of the U.S. Naval Reserve. Williams’ remarks are available on the website of Loyola University Chicago, where Williams is a political science professor.

London used several lines nearly identical to those Williams delivered, including language joking about his management style, his strong commitment to service, praise for his wife, and that he was, at heart, “a teacher and a strategist.”

“It certainly looks familiar to me,” Williams, a Cedar Falls native, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “As an academician, this would be a problem if I had done this. We quote each other all the time, but we need to cite where it came from.”

He said he does not remember ever meeting London.

Other examples of nearly identical passages include:

— “We weave the fabric of our lives slowly and draw from many strands: most importantly of family, but also of friends, of experiences, of accomplishments, of disappointments, of hopes for the future, of shared and personal memories.”

— “I fancy that at one time I was a fair and honest manager, but I recall George Carlin’s remark that ‘the older you get, the better you realize you were.’”

— “I like to think that my best contribution was to our people. It would please me greatly if I had even a small hand in your success.”

— “My most important comments on this occasion are for the most important people in my life, my family.” He called his wife “the source of my greatest happiness.”

— “I am a better, happier, wiser and healthier man because of my service.”

Some of those lines were slightly changed from Williams’ remarks, for instance by removing references to the Navy or replacing “memory” with “memories.”

London has not responded to an interview request submitted through an aide Wednesday and again Thursday.

Branstad on Wednesday appointed former commissioner Larry Noble to replace London, saying the 30-year department veteran would bring “stability and predictability” back to an agency that investigates crime and patrols Iowa roadways.


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