"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"

"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"
aka "Miss Victory"

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Fairness to women...IFD and Mayor claim work needs to be done

Editorial from today's Indy Star:

The mayor says the Indianapolis Fire Department has work to do when it comes to ensuring fairness to women. The fire chief says the same. So does the head of the firefighters' union.
So what has everyone been waiting for?

(Tax activist Melyssa Donaghy was denied access and given red tape when she asked for a copy of the city's sexual harassment and discrimination policy)

A lawsuit that resulted in a $350,000 payment from the taxpayers to a female firefighter seems to have been a wake-up call, or at least an occasion for reawakening, on the part of leaders who extol progress against sex discrimination but admit there's a distance to go.

(On August 21st CCC meeting, IFD Chief Greeson referred to tax activist Melyssa Donaghy as a bull dyke after she politely asked if they would give up their seats to taxpayers who were locked out of the auditorium in favor of Peterson supporters.)

Mayor Bart Peterson called for "a new attitude" and Chief James Greeson proclaimed "a new day" after the department paid Capt. Ruth Morrison to settle a case that entailed "serious and disturbing mistreatment" in the view of a federal judge. Technically, no fault was admitted in the settlement; but the top guys are hardly dismissing Morrison's claims that she was denied promotions, unjustly disciplined, insulted and threatened by superiors because of her gender. Greeson suspended two supervisors and took ultimate blame upon himself. Some female firefighters say he deserves to be gone. The burden is on him to show otherwise.

(It is the same old day. Chief Greeson's supervisor, public safety director Earl Morgan will not return Melyssa's documented phone calls and emails requesting an investigation of her sexual harassment, slander, and defamation complaint. She is also ignored by mayoral administrative direct Justin Ohlemiller, and city corporation counsel Kobi Wright).

Meanwhile, another discrimination suit by a female firefighter is pending in federal court. City lawyer Kobi Wright calls it baseless, but his superiors are giving the unmistakable impression that such a term is not to be taken on faith any more.

(Corporate counsel attorney Kobi Wright isn't always right about the rule of law and does not offer sound legal advice to citizens. Listen to a recording of him attempting to intimidate Melyssa Donaghy by telling her that she is in violation of state law for recording a phone call with him. In the call you can hear her remind Kobi, she's his boss! To hear the call, click here, then click the "phone conversation" link.)

While Peterson, Greeson and union president Mike Reeves cite decades of efforts to eradicate bias in promotions and workplace climate, their admission that bias persists does not give a great deal of comfort. Why, in 2007, after decades of female participation in fire service, are new steps being announced to battle discrimination? Why aren't they in place already?

(Perhaps because they are arrogant misogynists and need their clocks thoroughly cleaned in public in the same manner that they harass, abuse, and mistreat women.)

These are not easy times for female firefighters or for their department. Fewer than 50 of the nearly 1,000 firefighters are women, and male bonding is naturally strong in an atmosphere of shared quarters and shared danger. A festive fundraiser some firemen held for the defendants in the Morrison case, complete with jokes at her expense, was a perfect illustration of the old attitude.

The challenge to change would be great enough if there weren't so many other tasks at hand. Among them, the department is grinding through a prolonged merger process with township fire agencies; and Greeson faces scrutiny over Monroe Gray's dual role as the chief's community liaison and as City-County Council president.

(Monroe Gray cannot produce evidence of a single phone call, email, or report that he has generated while sucking $83,000 a year off the public dime. He's due to retire in December. Hoosiers For Fair Taxation is not happy about paying his retirement benefits. We never received work from him for our $83,000 a year. )

Competence, camaraderie and credibility have always been synonymous with IFD in the public mind. That reputation cannot be taken for granted. The mayor and the chief have structural repairs to make. They must not settle for putting out public relations fires.

(The mayor and chief have a huge pre-election liability brewing with tax activist Melyssa Donaghy, as she is known to not tolerate disrespect of women or taxpayers by city officials. )

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