No, you don’t get your day in court if you’re guilty of committing abhorrent behavior, sexual stupidity or general genital malfeasance where you work.
If you’re employed in an office, large or small, and your co-workers tell the boss that you keep hitting on other employees, even after they told you to quit, you get the sack. If you keep asking someone in the office to wear something tight and revealing more often, or mention that you’d leave your spouse in a heartbeat if the office intern or sales manager would meet you at a motel, you get canned.
If you work for a decent company, you get hauled into the office of the HR chief or your boss and get to explain yourself. You might convince someone that you’re probably the stupidest person on Earth and had no idea that whispering “oh hell yeah,” every time the new person walked past your cube, could be considered offensive even though you meant it as a pleasant and harmless compliment.
Anyone old enough to watch TV during and after the Anita Hill hearings knows exactly what’s what when it comes to sexual harassment.
Offices, shops, conference rooms, call centers, warehouses and clinics aren’t nightclubs, and only arrogant fools treat them like they should be.
And the Colorado State Capitol is probably the last place any kind of sexually oriented shenanigans should be offered or tolerated. Nothing says “loser” louder than a state lawmaker “joking” that he or she and whomever they’re picking on should get a room together.
The only thing stupider than the crap state representatives Steve Lebsock, Paul Rosenthal and state senators Randy Baumgardner and Jack Tate have been accused of is the demand that they “get their day in court” to rationalize it.
No, you don’t. You get the chance to tell your political party leaders whether and how the allegations are false. In the case of these four guys, they had the chance to address allegations made about their behavior to KUNC radio reporter Bente Birkeland, who broke these stories after talking with a bevy of alleged victims and reaching out to the accused for comment.
We, your constituents, are judge and jury of everything you do and say in your job as an elected official. Everything.
Lebsock, who’s become the gold standard for lame sexual harassment in Colorado these days, faces all kinds of allegations from different women. He refuses to step down from his House seat, saying that he demands to face his accusers and tell his side of the story.
OK. We’re waiting. Tell us how getting slack-face drunk at a bar the last day of the legislative session and privately telling state Rep. Faith Winter all the things the both of you could do to sexually please each other and then “playfully” pulling on her arm to leave the bar and go do stuff is actually all a big misunderstanding. Nobody’s telling Lebsock or anyone else to explain it only to behind closed doors. If he or the other men are saying their accusers are lying, let’s hear it.
I totally understand the danger of trying criminal cases in the press. These aren’t criminal cases. Yet. People tell reporters about their foul experiences because they either can’t tell anyone else, or if they do, nothing happens.
I’m not going to vouch for every reporter everywhere, but I will vouch for the reporters who have carefully and painstakingly asked, re-asked, evaluated, corroborated and double-checked these allegations, and then reached out to the accused for rebuttal. I can tell you first hand that the job most reporters do in many cases like this are far more thorough than what ends up in front of a judge.
These aren’t criminal cases, even though many of the accused demand the standards and protocols of criminal law be brought into the scandals.
It would be far preferable at the state Capitol if sexual harassers could be fired, and by their party leaders. But they can’t. Only voters can do that. So all party leaders and the public and newspapers can do is say, “quit.”
The Aurora Sentinel has asked these lawmakers to quit because we’ve heard no explanation from any of them how what it is they’re accused of doing or saying isn’t just what news accounts have detailed.
In the case of Rosenthal, he’s accused of trying to get a date with the brother of a legislative aid at the Capitol, and becoming a creepy pest about it. That’s beyond lame. It’s an inappropriate use of his position as a lawmaker. If it’s a lie, say so. If it’s not, quit.
In the case of Tate, he made repeated comments about how an 18-year-old intern was dressed. He told this intern that she should come see him if she wants to get ahead. He and defenders say that’s just his friendly Southern style. Really? What would Tate advise his daughter to do if a middle-aged guy at work made comments about her skirts and said to come up and see him some time if she wants a boost up the ladder? “Why, what a convivial gentleman, he must be, darlin’. You gonna get on up there?”
Like state lawmakers hold the golden key to lifetime achievement jobs or something. They don’t. And if they can get you a job by influencing someone outside of the Capitol because of their position inside the Capitol, they’re guilty of ethic violations and possibly real crimes.
Baumgardner? Witnesses have heard and seen what he says. In what context does telling a woman at the Capitol that he laments having to have gone home all alone, all night long have anything to do with official or unofficial state business? It’s beyond monkey business. All a lie? Speak up. If not, just go away.
If you think that, hey, you know, boys will be boys, then go find a place where everybody thinks that’s cool. Try the Rush Limbaugh show or Colorado’s Independence Institute.
It has no place in the Legislature. And while state House Speaker Crisanta Duran tap dances around how she had no choice but to let Lebsock become a committee chairman even though she knew what a cad he was, we don’t have to. He should quit. Duran should step down as speaker because she didn’t have the skill nor the temerity to protect the identity of victims and still not give promotions to their abuser.
Nobody’s firing anybody at the state Capitol. We’re asking someone to either tell the public an astonishing reason why accusations are so off-base that these people should keep their positions, or just get out.
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