City commission failed to stand up to mayor
Published 5:21 pm Thursday, October 31, 2019
By ELAINE WILSON-REDDY
Well, I guess another entitled white man is affirmed in his privilege. It seems we live in a post-Me too culture where men’s bad behavior is condoned in a spirit of avoiding conflict and playing nice.
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Donald Trump can call women dogs and make fun of a physically handicapped person. Matt Bevin can call teachers thugs. Mike Perros can say pretty much anything he wants with zero accountability.
Women, gird your loins and keep your armor close at hand. Our public “leaders” have shown through their silence that they would rather avoid confronting this behavior than stand up for those who have been targets of these egotistical, Teflon men.
The city commission had a golden opportunity to show the employees of city hall and show other women who interact with the commission that they are valued and that have been harassed and disrespected by Mike Perros. Instead of having empathy and showing that they supported these brave women who pushed back, the commission sat in silence, condoning Perros’ words, intent and actions.
All Joyce Collins wanted was for the commission to publicly support her and tell Perros to stop being a jerk. All Erica Engle wanted was for someone to hold Perros accountable for saying derogatory things about her.
How hard could it have been for one, two, three or all four commissioners, to say, from the dais, that what Perros said was wrong and that he needs to stop trying to be funny? How hard would it have been for one, or all, of the commissioners to be human and apologize to Collins and Engle for the harassment to which they have been subjected and to assure them and all workers in city hall that it would stop immediately?
It didn’t require a resolution. It didn’t require getting an attorney involved. It required the commissioners to have a collective backbone and stand up to Perros’ entitled, arrogant behavior.
So, here we are now with Perros knowing he can go on, saying whatever to whomever, with the assurance that he won’t be held accountable. And the women who work in city hall and those who do business with the city will continue to cringe when they see Perros, not knowing to what they will be subjected or try to avoid him, as Engle has tried to do for over a year.
What the commissioners don’t get is that it isn’t about the legality of Perros’s words, it’s about not holding a peer to any semblance of responsibility. Instead of showing support for his targets, they let him slide. It’s like hearing a friend make a racist/sexist joke and not calling him or her out. “It’s just so-and-so. That’s just how she/he is.”
Other random points
In last week’s column, I quoted KRS 83A.040(9), which states that a governmental body can fire one its members for misconduct. City Attorney Steven Dexter was quoted in The Advocate-Messenger as saying that “misconduct” has been defined specifically as “criminal” by statute and case law.
I am a law school graduate but am not an experienced attorney. I did some limited research and couldn’t find anything that specifically defined misconduct as criminal regarding this statute. Since I am a research nerd, I’d love to read the case law that narrows this definition. Maybe I can get Dexter to share that with me.
There are those who feel that since I am married to a commissioner, it is unseemly and a potential conflict of interest for me write about city issues. A fellow commissioner asked my husband to have a chat with me and ask me to stop. We had that chat.
For the record, I do my own research and provide sources to back up what I write. I obviously have no influence over how my husband votes or deals with city issues.
FYI: An apology that begins with “I’m sorry that I . . .” is more powerful that on that begins with “I’m sorry if I . . .”.
“It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
- Elaine Wilson-Reddy, JD, is a professional educator, consultant and advocate. She lives in Danville.