AL­DER­MEN OK PAIR OF MEA­SURES AGAINST SEX­UAL HA­RASS­MENT

Chicago Sun-Times - - POLITICS NATION - BY FRAN SPIEL­MAN City Hall Re­porter Email: fspiel­man@ sun­times. com Twit­ter: @ fspiel­man

Sex­ual ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions against Hol­ly­wood movie mogul Har­vey We­in­stein have prompted a “Me, Too” avalanche of al­le­ga­tions against men in act­ing, the me­dia, the restau­rant in­dus­try and pol­i­tics.

On Wed­nes­day, the “Me, Too” cam­paign spread to the leg­isla­tive re­ac­tion to those scan­dals.

Al­der­men agreed to hold them­selves and Chicago’s three city­wide elected of­fi­cials ac­count­able for sex­ual ha­rass­ment on their staffs and gave vic­tims of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and bul­ly­ing a new tool to pro­tect them­selves.

The quick ac­tion by the Fi­nance Com­mit­tee and the full Council on a pair of or­di­nances cham­pi­oned by Chair­man Ed­ward Burke ( 14th) came one day after the Illi­nois Gen­eral As­sem­bly rushed to take its own steps in re­sponse to a sex­ual ha­rass­ment scan­dal trig­gered by a vic­tim rights ad­vo­cate’s al­le­ga­tions against state Sen. Ira Sil­ver­stein, D- Chicago, the hus­band of Ald. De­bra Sil­ver­stein ( 50th).

After the Council meet­ing, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the de­ci­sion to close a le­gal loop­hole that has al­lowed elected of­fi­cials to es­cape re­spon­si­bil­ity for sex­ual ha­rass­ment on their staffs is only the be­gin­ning.

“It’s clear post the elec­tion, Roger Ailes, O’Reilly, Har­vey We­in­stein, Kevin Spacey that there also has to be a change in at­ti­tude — and not just for women, but for men,” the mayor said.

The sec­ond or­di­nance would cre­ate what Burke called a “quasi- crim­i­nal vi­o­la­tion for in­di­vid­u­als who feel they have been vic­tims of bul­ly­ing or sex­ual ha­rass­ment.”

Rules Com­mit­tee Chair­man Michelle Har­ris ( 8th) was asked why the City Council even needed to act pre­emp­tively to in­oc­u­late it­self from a sex­ual ha­rass­ment scan­dal that doesn’t ex­ist at City Hall. At least not pub­licly.

“There are no scan­dals here, but it’s just to keep peo­ple hon­est. That’s all,” Har­ris said Wed­nes­day.

“I don’t think it’s a feel- good, me, too in light of what we see hap­pen­ing at all lev­els of the so­ci­ety. It’s just, we want to put the pro­tec­tions there. It’s not that any­body down here is prob­a­bly do­ing any­thing that. It’s just to give peo­ple a pro­tec­tion.”

Also Wed­nes­day, Ald. Marge Lau­rino ( 39th) in­tro­duced an or­di­nance mak­ing an­nual sex­ual ha­rass­ment train­ing manda­tory for all mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees — in­clud­ing the mayor, city clerk, city trea­surer and al­der­men.

Lau­rino said she wants to “clar­ify any ‘ gray ar­eas’ as well as send a reg­u­lar mes­sage to city per­son­nel that this be­hav­ior will not be tol­er­ated.”

Ald. Michelle Har­ris

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