ALDERMEN OK PAIR OF MEASURES AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT
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