Susan Lerner- Common Cause NY

Monday, November 27th

A look at Albany's sexual harasssment problem and the changes she says are needed. 


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

It's hard line and is ready and I'm thirty WB and good morning this is Dave Devo and the question for this segment. Does Albany have a Harvey Weinstein problem we've seen a lot of talk obviously about judge Roy Moore on the accusation accusations running around. Capitol Hill in that regard senator Al Franken of course another accuser came forth this past week. But I think in the end the discussion there we haven't talked enough about Albany and the situation there of course part of the reason we're raising this is employed. The Western New York economic development official who now is being sued. Because he basically according to the plaintiff here according to Lisa Marie cater our raster. Paid or some hush money and then continue to harass or she's got a federal lawsuit saying not only. As he done bad things but that Governor Cuomo should not have put him in the spot and should not have necessarily allow this all happened so the governor's defendant there. Let's bring in Susan Lerner with common cause. They're a good government group by I hesitate codecs I'm not sure a lot of people understand what that is Susan thank you for being with us. Talk we've talked before we move on what common cause is. Until we're government watchdog. And we do is leave basically. Help. In the and represented New York monitor their government. And hold power accountable and all so look to a different situation like this unfortunate. Situation around him tight play can see what can be done not to make a mistake for the future. In this cricket particular case so there are a lot of dogs we watched dissolving have a problem that's bigger than Sam point. Well you know this is an eight persistent topic of discussion. You may recall that there is there a scandal. And several years ago around this and assembly member Vito Lopez who was one of the very powerful. A friendly members. Who was accused by two women about a persistent harassment. And they came out that the assembly have been paying hush money. Over a number of years to other. Former staffers. Who had been abused. By Vito Lopez. And you know there are other instances. Where. Different and male employees were accused in one instance of break. And then rehired. Various settlements which. Money taxpayer money has been paid out. So for sure all but he is not exempt from what we see as the broader issue. That powerful men. Abused their power in different ways and some of them use their power to abuse agreement sexual. But what do you do about it news that you can't pass a law that says sexual harassment is bad we've already got one of those. You you can't. Increased penalties canyon. It's more a question. Hatching these things. Very quickly. I'm having cleared them they're having a complaint process that actually works. For our. The accused victimized her until it's the cultural shift in I think the fact that we are talking about the power in ballots. Shall we get itself up and sexual abuse. In so many different industries. Is a strong step towards changing the culture that looks the other way that the general election swing men aren't there abusers. And you win and if you're going to play. In this marketplace. In the this industry we you're just gonna have to. Buck up and get ready to be abused for that matter like that when their powerful that's not acceptable. I almost wonder though if if all the women that are coming forward from from Al Franken to Harvey Weinstein. Quite situation Vito Lopez earlier. If all the women are suddenly coming forward. If we're not going to reach some sort of backlash where people say. Yeah manner that way yap politics is corrupt yeah Hollywood's corrupt. Do you see the people coming forward changing things or will there be a fatigue factor. Where I can almost put forth the idea that people us and say you know pay another. Another bad apple in the barrel. Well I you know there's always that risk but I think that we are hopefully heading for a seat changed because these scandals are coming up. More. Persistently. Women are not willing to put up with beating badly treated being abused we are. Demanding that men behave responsibly. Which is all we're talking about the canning. Talk about enforcement then how do we beef up enforcement bulletin Albany do in that regard. But I think we beefed up the training. And I think we beefed up the complete procedure. I eat and I think that we make it here that there are consequences. If the first time somebody behaves badly there's a comment back to them hey we don't do that here. Then it doesn't escalate. What we have now with a situation where. The low level. Com sexism. It is sort of put out lip of women aren't comfortable in tenor and the power imbalance keeps them from really saying hey. Don't think that's to me that's not okay. I'm because they're afraid of being fired they're afraid. And there's no place to go and complain they're afraid that their abuser is going to be rehired work. You could work given a promotion. With an additional 100000 dollars in salary of taxpayer money without there being any consequences. And you know so well and people are willing to turn. Await trial uncomfortable conduct and not correct. The man not correct the teenage boys say hey you know we don't do that here. Then it escalate syndicate where. And the example you just raised the idea of a promotion with a higher salary that cuts to the core. Of the federal lawsuit and the accusations pending against the governor and regards to Sam points. Do you feel that Sam should have been put in the position of being the west's New York economic development czar. After the state assembly already chastised him for having an inappropriate relationship with a man turn. Well what I executed just think here and I don't wanna get too. Much into the specifics of the quite case because I think it's emblematic of larger problems but remember. But he. I firmly that he should just chastised. The he felt that he could not be trusted with injured. In the future. It's not like they said OK you made a mistake we think you're you've figured out that it's the wrong thing to do. Now we have little complacent okay that the now we don't trust you with venture. So in that situation I think it's. Legitimate for taxpayers to say why would you take somebody who can't be trusted with interns and put them into an even more powerful position. With a tremendous. More than doubling of the salary taxpayer expense. And what controlled have you put into place. If you have somebody who has shown such bad judgment in terms of his. How we're relationships with women to put him into a position of greater power you have I think they are. Someone just Lewis threw us a comment on text line here or not another caller percent but something that I wanna bounce you law office view. Pray in private sector the man is fired while the second chances and Albany. Yeah I think that's a very very good question. Do you think it I understand that there are broader issues here and and you don't wanna get into the nuts and bolts of following case particularly when it is being litigated. But do you think that the governor bears any liability here or. Can be pretty easy to say that this is politics he is running for election next year and sure people are going to want to make him look bad. Well you know I I think the whole question here. Out of this particular set of circumstances. Is more important to look at from a systemic point of view which again it as. The text message your point about how many second chances do you get in Albany apparently is it to that number and we're all day. For that. You know the what we've now seen. Overtime the assembly has paid out tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars taxpayer money is settlement. Now the information is coming out just how much taxpayer money has been paid out by congress. In settlement for sexual harassment. On how much longer that's going to go on hopefully these discussions mead and it's not going to go on indefinitely we're not gonna continue to borrow money. A way to win. Better. System. Clear control better complaint procedures could solve the problem lightly. Do you think those systems can be legislated that. Albany in general can be directed to do this or does it require. Just the leadership that's willing to do. I think it's I think it's leadership that's willing to do with that have to put them complete. With training with complaint procedure with a different culture we've all worked in workplaces. We hear it was clear there are certain things you could not do where sexual or off kilter. Luke comments which is not acceptable. Now with the whole share. No not so much a question the legality the culture in Albany is that. Officials get to do what ever they want to do there's a power and balanced and they aren't held the same standards. Has the text message or point out. That people in private industry are held to Albany except the south from all sorts of rules the regulations. That they subject the rest of us to and it's time that they be held to a higher standard. Then and this is my favorite questions regardless of the guest than than him your prediction what happens next. Are you are you optimistic that the kind of change you want to see will indeed occur or or is this just a matter of people like you once again speaking out. But not necessarily saying any progress. Well actually. What we've seen and there have been several articles is publications that I examined politic. It indications that it actually is getting better. What better in Albany comes up the training and complaint procedure. Are having an effect in women feel. That. The situation in Albany is not possible. And that the health alternatives if there is somebody who is troubling them. All right Susan thanks so much for joining us interesting stuff glad you better be here this morning. Okay thank. You to that Susan Lerner New York common cause.