My remarks to the AP are cited:
Pardon our sarcasm, but the only person who doesn’t seem to be aware of the ongoing sexual harassment problem in the Legislature is Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The latest revelation of sordid and unsavory behavior by our state’s lawmakers was reported by The New York Times in Wednesday’s editions.
In the Times report, Manhattan Assemblyman Michael Kellner was accused of having a flirtatious and inappropriate online communication with a young female staffer in 2009.
The accusation, including 15 pages of transcribed online chats, was reported to longtime Assembly lawyer Bill Collins, who promptly forgot to advance the accusation to the Ethics Committee as required by Assembly policy.
And according to Silver, Collins failed to tell him, too.
Oddly enough, it was Silver who forgot to advance a sexual harassment complaint against former Assemblyman Vito Lopez earlier this year. Instead, he had Assembly lawyers negotiate a cash settlement with two women who
had filed a complaint against Lopez.
In an Associated Press story Wednesday, former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin said legislative staff had sexual harassment training after past scandals, so it should have been clear about the reporting procedure. He also told The Associated Press it was not plausible Silver did not know about the case.
Considering the power Speaker Silver holds over political careers, we also find it suspect.
On Thursday, the Times-Union reported Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, said in a radio interview that sexual harassment against women in the Legislature was “disturbing” and “intolerable” and also a long-standing problem.
A 10-part bill that expanded sexual harassment protections for women did not pass in the Legislature this spring because of an anti-abortion component.
“The reality is that we are at this point now that there is an awareness that behavior like this is intolerable,” Stewart-Cousins said in the radio interview. “They won’t be tolerated. It’s not acceptable. This culture cannot continue to exist.”
It can’t be said any better than that.
We’re just waiting for someone to finally do something about it.