Gov. Heineman isn't qualified to run university system, Sen. Chambers tells him in a letter


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LINCOLN, Nebraska — State Sen. Ernie Chambers says Gov. Dave Heineman is incapable of running the University of Nebraska system and should end his "vain pursuit" of the president's post.

Heineman has applied to replace system President J.B. Milliken, who is now chancellor of the City University of New York. Heineman must leave office in January because of term limits.

Chambers, of Omaha, wrote Heineman a letter to explain why "you are not possessed of the temperament, disposition, character or overall qualifications to serve as the president of the university and to suggest that you terminate your vain pursuit." The 42-page letter also went to the university's Board of Regents, the Lincoln Journal Star said ( ).

Two committees are involved in finding a replacement, but finalists for the position have not been named. The regents will decide who should succeed Milliken.

Heineman's spokeswoman, Jen Rae Wang, said the governor wouldn't comment on Chambers' letter.

In his 10 years in Lincoln, the governor has been involved in budget and other issues facing the university system and holds a bachelor's degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The outspoken Chambers is well-known for criticizing Heineman on the floor of the Legislature and in letters to fellow senators and the media. In July, Chambers angrily denounced the governor for his attempts to identify the unaccompanied immigrant children who were brought to Nebraska, and accused him of politicizing a humanitarian crisis.

The letter recounts what Chambers described as debacles that illustrate Heineman's leadership failures: privatization of child welfare and other Health and Human Services Department problems; management, treatment and abuse problems at the Beatrice State Developmental Center for developmentally disabled residents; and miscalculations of prison sentences and early releases of state prison inmates.

"My advice, which you will no doubt disregard with a snort, is: Give up this fool's quest, this jousting with windmills and squelch this burgeoning, embarrassing fiasco," Chambers told the governor.

Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,

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