After Careful Scrutiny …

September 30th, 2019

Reconciliation was not on last week’s city council agenda. Although the complaints of gender harassment and misconduct against council members Glover and Krohn were largely not substantiated by the independent investigator, and conflict resolution recommended, the main item on the council’s evening agenda was to formally censure Krohn and Glover, initiated by council members Meyers and Mathews. It had the predictable effect: further polarization, emotional outbursts and general mayhem.

I’m not easily persuaded that complaints of sexism against two males by five females are without merit or that they are solely politically motivated. I started by believing. Then I read the transcript of the charges and witnesses carefully, many times. I read the investigator’s conclusions. I attended or watched past council meetings where some of the offending behavior was said to occur. I paid close attention to the tearful testimony of the city staff member, whose three young daughters were made to stand by her side as she read her victim impact statement against Glover with passion and conviction. Despite her feelings of being harassed, the investigator did not find that Glover’s behavior violated the city’s workplace misconduct policy. It’s true that Glover and Krohn ask hard, probing questions of staff, who are more used to attaboys from previous councils. Hard questions of staff by elected officials seem appropriate to me. If behind the scenes staff has any problems then surely a heart to heart talk about mutual respect etc. would temper the zeal and grandstanding when or if it occurs? From the investigator’s notes, whenever someone spoke to Glover with concerns he was usually conciliatory. Krohn twice wrote and asked to discuss the Mayor’s concerns, with no response.

Given the nature of the two substantiated charges, namely that Krohn gave a snort or a laugh when a staff member cited her “professional opinion” (although no laugh can be heard on the tape) and that Glover confronted Meyers in a disrespectful manner when she failed to exit on time a conference room he had reserved, a reasonable person might wonder at such high stakes drama and emotion over what could and should have been addressed offstage. That is, unless one factors in that it is Krohn and Glover who are facing a well-funded, well-organized, determined recall effort supported by the two council members seeking the public censure.

At the meeting, a motion to table the censure item was made by council member Brown and seconded by council member Cummings. However the Mayor refused to recognize Brown. While motions to table are infrequent (made on eight occasions over the past five years and not usually on minor issues) a refusal to recognize a council member wishing to make a motion is unprecedented in my experience. That refusal to recognize was appealed by Brown and with four votes the appeal and the motion to table were passed. Then things really heated up. While the next item was to fine tune recommendations for a revised workplace policy and conflict resolution procedures, the Mayor allowed the public to vent, making later claims moot that the motion to table silenced the public.

Evaluating this whole controversy, I find a finger can be pointed at the Mayor’s speech at the February 12th council meeting where she launched into an accusation of sexism on the part of Glover and Krohn. Labeled as a “perception” by others rather than her own experience and after her lengthy accusation with no right of reply, the Mayor concluded that she brought the issue up “to name it and move on.” I don’t know about you but if I were accused of such egregious behavior at a public meeting I would like a few minutes to respond. The Mayor allowed no response. I thought Glover and Krohn, who displayed no outward emotion, were restrained given the circumstances. This was in stark contrast to council member Meyers who at the last council meeting, pounded the table and yelled, “I’ve been out as a lesbian for 34 years so don’t call me a racist!” This was apparently in response to someone’s Facebook posting. That a white woman whether lesbian, straight or bi cannot also be racist suggests a need for further education as called for in earlier conversations by Glover. He has a point.

Staff is, in my view, overstepping their bounds. At the following night’s meeting of the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women, after the commission coordinator re-read her tearful testimony against Glover that she had delivered the night before in front of council, the commission voted to send a letter asking for the censure of Glover and Krohn to be put back on the next council agenda. They are entitled to do that. However, the coordinator told the commission to do a press conference, something they had not decided on their own. She is not entitled to do that. It was not framed by “maybes” or “perhaps.” She also advised one of the commissioners who happens to be an intern for Glover, to think about her professional future before she voted. The intern voted for the motion. The commission voted also that a draft be shared with the whole commission prior to being adopted. However by the next day, without full commission input, there it was, posted on NextDoor.

It’s past time for the city manager to have a heart to heart talk with his staff about civil service. And past time for those who are frenzied about the recall to stop throwing about terms such as “victim blaming.” We worked too hard to have victim blaming taken seriously for its misuse in the service of political posturing.

Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association darksky.org Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.

Originally published at brattononline.com and used with permission.