Tuesday, December 5, 2006

i hope i never see embattled modifying my name

the times and post reported today on the allegations against embattled minneapolis fire chief bonnie bleskachek. mayor r.t. rybak has asked the city council to fire chief bleskachek after four lawsuits were filed against the city, accusing the chief of "playing sexual politics, retaliating against a former partner, acting as a lustful predator and showing bias against at least one heterosexual male firefighter."

yeesh. as in many sexual harassment cases, the allegations are pretty bad. it looked as though the city would settle up and cut a deal with the chief, but the taxpayers protested with a collective "oh, come on!" when ms. bleskachek was offered a severance package of about $41,000 and another job in the department.

i can't determine whether this is a case of a serial harasser and authority-abuser, or a case of homophobic piling-on against the nation's first openly lesbian urban fire chief, or, i suppose, some combination of the two. having spent a little time studying sexual harassment, i can say that the allegations made in this case are not atypical. as a department chair in an authority position, however, i'm sympathetic to ms. bleskachek's position: “I wanted to have my day in court, to be deposed, to force these people to produce some proof,” she said. “It’s a devastating blow to my career, my reputation, my everything.”

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