Wednesday, February 21, 2007

PD calls for independent investigation into Cleveland Mayor's brother

In today's Plain Dealer, columnist Regina Brett, comments very strongly on the questionable outcome of the investigation in to sexual harassment against Nick Jackson, deputy chief of business operations for Cleveland public schools. Jackson is also brother of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.

Jackson was recently cleared of sexual harassment charges filed by a school employee. The report from the investigation, placed blame on the victim.

Rightfully so, Brett raises some good questions, bring up some good points and asks for an independent investigation. Brett dismisses the school's investigation as typical of this area and not surprising she says, as it is the year of the pig.

Brett wrote -

The sexual harassment report reads like a Penthouse letter.

The lewd details could easily distract you from the most important fact regarding the investigation:
The chain of command.

Nick Jackson is deputy chief of business operations for Cleveland public schools. More importantly, he is the mayor's brother. The mayor, as in Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.

The mayor appoints the school board. The school board picks the superintendent.

The superintendent, who cleaned house when he took over, kept the mayor's brother on. Why? Your guess is as good as my assumption.

The mayor's brother, who is paid $124,000 a year, was accused of sexual harassment in January. The school's deputy chief of human resources, Clinton Faulkner, cleared the mayor's brother last week.

Surprise, surprise. Actually, it isn't at all.

What did surprise me was how the HR report painted the woman accuser as a villain. Reading it made me recall the days when rape victims were blamed for provoking attacks because they were wearing miniskirts and high heels.

This woman admits she once had a drinking problem and was inappropriately playful with the mayor's brother before he became her supervisor. Back then, she considered him a friend. After she got sober, she changed and no longer wanted to expose her breasts to him.

The report is full of examples of her inappropriate comments and gestures. If her drinking behavior was so blatant, why didn't anyone refer her to the employee assistance program? Where were the HR folks then?

The mayor's brother doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation. He has been called foul-mouthed, unprofessional, aggressive, demeaning and vulgar. He's seen as a bully who terrorizes his staff.

Years ago, a former city worker accused the mayor's brother of sexual harassment. She claimed that he commented on her sex life after she gave birth.

For years, people have said that the mayor's brother is incompetent, fails to follow rules, engages in inappropriate conduct at work and has a penchant for profanity.

I don't know if the mayor's brother sexually harassed anyone. But this much is certain, by trashing this accuser, HR sent a clear message to anyone else who would complain about the mayor's brother: Question his reputation and we'll destroy yours.

The report concluded that there was no credible evidence to support the allegations and made these recommendations: Send the woman and the mayor's brother to HR sexual harassment training (separately, of course) and then give the woman a new supervisor.

And, get this. The mayor's brother got a verbal reprimand. For not disciplining the woman for her inappropriate behavior toward him.

All this begs the question: O brother, where art thou?

Mayor Frank Jackson should order an independent review of the sexual harassment claims against his brother.

Ah, but why bother? After all, this is the year of the pig.

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