The Iowa Department for Human Services provides services to the poor, children, senior citizens, and people with mental illness, addictions, or disabilities. Jerry Foxhoven, a retired law professor, was appointed to head up the agency in 2017, and until he was ousted last month, he added another directive to that long list: spreading the good word of Tupac Shakur.
According to the Associated Press, the 66-year-old public servant held weekly “Tupac Fridays” listening sessions in the DHS office, celebrated his 65th birthday with cookies that depicted Tupac’s face and the phrase “Thug life,” and shared some 350 pages’ worth of emails to colleagues invoking the late rapper and his lyrics.
His final email as director, sent to 4,300 colleagues, reminded readers that the upcoming Sunday was not just Father’s Day but also Tupac’s birthday, and ended on the lyric: “Pay no mind to those who talk behind your back, it simply means you are 2 steps ahead.”
It cannot be stressed enough: This man loved Tupac.
Foxhoven’s enthusiasm was not universally shared in the workplace. At least one employee complained to legislators about his obsession. But another, Lisa Bender, praised him in an email for sharing these lyrics “despite the haters”; Foxhoven said he was “going to hang in there on him — despite all of the naysayers.”
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds asked Foxhoven to resign on June 17, his first work day after sending out the mass email about Tupac’s birthday. Whether or not Foxhoven’s abrupt departure had anything to do with this email in particular or his fixation in general remains unclear, per the AP:
“As the governor has said, a lot of factors contributed to the resignation of Jerry Foxhoven and now Gov. Reynolds is looking forward to taking DHS in a new direction,” said spokesman Pat Garrett.
The governor’s office has refused to elaborate on those factors, despite an Iowa law that requires state agencies to release the “documented reasons and rationale” when employees resign instead of being terminated.
Foxhoven’s ouster came amid multiple controversies involving the agency, which has a nearly $7 billion annual budget. They included difficult contract negotiations with managed care companies that run the Medicaid program, a trial detailing alleged mistreatment of boys at a state juvenile home, and an uptick in deaths at a center for the disabled. Still, Foxhoven’s job had not appeared to be in danger.
Maybe Gov. Reynolds is more of a Biggie fan. In any case, thank you, Mr. Foxhoven. You are appreciated.