When is a joke not a joke?
As we pointed out in an earlier post, Christian Berthelsen political reporter for the LA Times related in an article on Thursday comments made by Republican Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante regarding the appointment of Sandra Hutchens as the new OC Sheriff. Apparently, Bustamante walks up to a prominent conservative blogger and says “I kept telling the Chief (Walters) maybe we should get you some implants, or a water bra.”
Where do I begin?
First, this is a highly offensive and sexist comment. It is derogatory towards Chief Hutchens in that it implies that the ONLY REASON she received the appointment as Sheriff is because of her gender. It is derogatory towards women in general and the millions of women who have risen to great levels of accomplishment based upon their own merits, hard work, and skill in their professions.
Second, this comment is offensive to the residents of the City of Santa Ana, in particular Ward 3, who have the distinct pleasure of being represented on the City Council by the “Honorable” Mr. Bustamante. To be represented by someone who has the audacity to make such comments in a public setting, and who lacks the judgment necessary to prevent himself from making them at all, is beyond intolerable.
Third, Bustamante’s comments are offensive to his employer, the County of Orange Public Works department. Bustamante, is the Director of Administration for OC Public Works. In his role as an executive manager, he supervises the Human Resources Department for that agency. One of his responsibilities is to uphold the County Equal Employment Opportunity Ordinance which states: The County of Orange will not tolerate harassing conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Fourth, Bustamante’s comments are reflective of the good old boy attitudes prevalent among many executive and senior managers in the county. There is a culture of denial that has grown within the ranks of county executive management. The culture is one that makes it clear; “there are no consequences your actions; anything goes.” Whenever something goes wrong under an executive manager’s watch, the response is to simply point the finger down the chain of command. Usually, the fingers stop pointing once they get to low-level managers, supervisors or line staff. The “little guys or gals” always take the fall.
CEO Tom Mauk is currently on vacation, which explains why the LiberalOC’s request for comment from the CEO’s office went unanswered today. We wanted to know if Carlos Bustamante’s remarks were consistent with county policy regarding equal employment opportunities for women and if such comments would be tolerated coming from a senior executive in the workplace?
Mr. Bustamante was in the Board Hearing Room Tuesday morning by virtue of his position as an executive manager for OC Public Works and was arguably there on County time when he made his comments. So I have an additional question that only the CEO can answer. Since Bustamante made his comments while in his professional capacity as a county manager, what will Tom Mauk do about it? Will he demonstrate tolerance for such behavior? Will he uphold the standards that prohibit such conduct, or will he perpetuate the culture of denial, accept such deplorable behavior, and give Bustamante a pass? Now I would love to be proven wrong, but I doubt it anything will happen.
One additional and final point. Carlos Bustamante is a member of the Santa Ana City Council. With his title comes the prefix “Honorable.” What is honorable about his statement on Tuesday? Will the Council demand an apology from Mr. Bustamante? Will they introduce a resolution for censure? Or will the City Council give Carlos a pass?