With an annoying degree of regularity we come upon tips from sources or stories from fellow journalists that describe, in painful detail, behavior of our leaders in government that leave us scrambling to scrape our jaws off the floor.
This, unfortunately, is one of those instances. However, we actually hope this story offends you, so that it also sparks a passionate desire in you to somehow hold said leaders accountable and affect change.
Because something’s gotta give.
On Monday, Michael Gormley of Newsday wrote, “New Yorkers have paid more than $10 million over the last nine years to settle 88 cases of sexual harassment, discrimination, and related cases in state government, almost all of which were brought by women reporting groping, come-ons and demeaning treatment.”
That’s right. Eighty-eight cases. Ten million dollars.
We bet that your initial reaction was similar to ours (perhaps minus several dozen expletives, but you get the drift):
“WHAT?!?!? WHY?!?!?”
According to the Office of State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, all but five of the cases were brought by women alleging “gender discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and /or sexual assault.”
That there have been 88 reported cases (think for a second about how many were NOT brought to authorities over that same nine-year period) of such boorish, reprehensible, and damaging behavior is unnerving.
That we have had to pay to settle such matters is wrong and downright sickening.
“There is a culture in this town that I have observed and find very disturbing. Young people come to the Capitol, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and they think that legislators or people who work very high up in government are somehow godlike . . . and that if they are paid special attention this somehow makes them special or could be helpful to their own careers,” State Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) told Newsday. “They find themselves through their own naiveté and youth in terrible situations and they don’t know how to handle it and they don’t know they can come forward. They think, ‘It’s just the way things happen here.’ ”
In his State of the State address delivered earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo established the Women’s Agenda for New York: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity. This features 30 proposals that, according to the governor, “create opportunity for women to succeed in every area: work, health, safety, education and family life.”
One of those proposals delves into sexual harassment in the workplace. Cuomo has pledged to advance legislation to prevent taxpayer funds from being used for settlements against individuals relating to sexual assault or harassment and to ensure that individual harassers are held accountable; propose a uniform code of sexual harassment policies binding on all State branches of government, agencies and authorities; and propose legislation to prohibit confidentiality agreements relating to sexual assault or harassment for all public entities and branches of government—State and local—unless it is the express preference of the victim.
Bravo, Cuomo.
Because 88 cases and $10 million should actually be zero and zero.
Something’s gotta give.


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