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Question of the day

Thursday, Sep 20, 2018

* The Tribune published an op-ed by House Speaker Michael Madigan late yesterday and I asked the Madigan folks to send me a copy so I could post it all here…

Over the past year, women across our country have bravely come forward to shed light on the culture that permits and facilitates harassment in the workplace. Because the sheer number of stories has revealed just how prevalent these problems are - from Hollywood to Wall Street and throughout politics, the media, and academia - some have attempted to use this disturbing prevalence to shield themselves from accountability for actions under their control. That is nonsense and I reject that, which is why I’ve reviewed both my State and political operations, identified wrongdoers, and removed six individuals. As a leader in this state, I know we all have a responsibility to create a better Illinois for everyone.

I have made it a personal mission to take this issue head-on and correct past mistakes. I wish I would have done so sooner. Since the beginning of this year, I have met with more than 100 women working in the Capitol, both within my office and outside my office. I asked questions that I should have asked before and made changes to create a better environment.

One of the first meetings I attended was with a group of women in their 20s and 30s. I heard stories of inappropriate behavior, both inside and outside of the Capitol. What’s worse, these young women did not feel there was anyone willing to listen or take action to alleviate their concerns.

What became clear is that I didn’t do enough, and that we, collectively, have failed in the Capitol to ensure everyone can reliably, confidentially and safely report harassment. I thought the pathways were there, but they weren’t.

Throughout the course of these meetings, when I learned of activities that did not reflect an appropriate workplace environment, I acted by terminating or demoting those responsible. In one meeting I learned of a supervisor who was not taking staff concerns seriously, and subsequently learned that supervisor had failed to report allegations of abuse and harassment. That supervisor was removed. In another case, I learned of an individual making inappropriate comments to several female staffers. That individual no longer works in my Office.

I also heard stories where the prior process for reporting and handling these issues did work. I learned of a legislative secretary who was being harassed by a male lobbyist, and despite this lobbyist’s attempts to suppress her, this woman summoned the courage to report his abuses. We immediately investigated and contacted the lobbyist’s employer. He is no longer a lobbyist.

I am committed to enacting change. At my initiative, we retained Maggie Hickey, a former federal prosecutor and Inspector General. She is conducting an independent investigation of all allegations of discrimination and harassment. Ms. Hickey will bring to light any additional problems. When she does, I am committed to acting immediately.

While this independent investigation takes place, my new Chief of Staff Jessica Basham is leading a review of our policies and practices. Our office is taking immediate steps to improve. We have established a new process to bring complaints so that Jessica knows of any future allegations and reports them to me. We will enforce in-person sexual harassment training. Directors and supervisors will receive continuing training on how to better handle workplace behavior. I am accountable for my office and will ensure that any issues are dealt with quickly and appropriately.

I have the responsibility to make sure our workplace is safer, equitable and non-discriminatory. Harassment of any kind and workplace bullying will simply not be tolerated - period. There will be a zero tolerance policy for any kind of harassment. Leaders cannot leave these issues to others. Now is the opportunity to ask ourselves what we are doing to make Illinois a better workplace for everyone.

* The Question: Do you believe he’s heading far enough in the right direction on this topic to date? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

survey solutions

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Tammy - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 1:14 pm:

    Saying and doing all the right things…not sure if it’s enough. How he handles the succession of BFC as majority leader will be important with the women in his caucus.

  2. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 1:27 pm:

    It’s a pretty strong statement and I am both surprised and pleased that he made it so forceful. Is it enough? That’s probably for others to say, but I hope it’s enough.

    One thing I’ve learned about Speaker Madigan over the years, if he goes to this much effort, he will absolutely follow-through. He put his name to this so I fully expect that he will act accordingly. I certainly wouldn’t want to test his resolve on this.

  3. - Responsa - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 1:33 pm:

    Trib seems like a strange place to run it if he’s trying to atone and persuade.

  4. - chito - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 1:47 pm:

    “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” - I find this appropriate.

  5. - Texas Red - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 1:48 pm:

    “That is nonsense and I reject that, which is why I’ve reviewed both my State and political operations, identified wrongdoers, and removed six individuals. As a leader in this state, I know we all have a responsibility to create a better Illinois for everyone.

    One word - “Mapes” - sure he removed him but this guy was his gatekeeper/confidant/right hand man for decades. Madigan needs to go from leadership or we must accept that the Dems approve of such behavior.

  6. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 1:48 pm:

    The timeline, remorse, and enacted changes seem similar to those Mark Cuban made in the Dallas Mavericks organization after the Sports Illustrated report.

  7. - Earnest - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 1:51 pm:

    I voted ‘yes.’ It’s a systemic problem, and he seems to be approaching it as such. Weird to have both him and Rauner admitting errors within a week of each other.

  8. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 1:59 pm:

    Right direction; miles to go.

    – MrJM

  9. - James - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 1:59 pm:

    The statement contains words of apology and a process for the future. He’s known for keeping his word.

  10. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 2:02 pm:

    I voted yes.

    Words are important, but they are worthless if not matched by actions. Madigan has taken forceful moves towards creating a workplace environment that is safe for women, and he’s had some missteps as well, which have been called out by caucus members. He may or may not have the right motivations, but he’s doing the right thing (it’s also possible he has multiple motivations).

  11. - RNUG - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 2:05 pm:

    When MJM does decide to act, he does it decisively. Period, full stop.

    Rauner should study this for how a leader acknowledges and owns mistakes on his watch, and then tries to correct them. Straight statement of facts, no attempt to scapegoat others for his failure.

    If Rauner had ant hope of getting reelected, this the style of statement he needed to make to the voters on the budget and other issues, but couldn’t manage to pull it off.

  12. - Howdy - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 2:06 pm:

    Madigan is a winner and writing this proves he wants to stick around for the long haul. The tone is perfect and people cannot say he isn’t trying to correct some wrongs.

  13. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 2:26 pm:

    Credit him for doing something Rauner has not done, own it.

    Actions are what speak though and MJM has a lot to prove yet.

  14. - Ole' Nelson - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 2:36 pm:

    I especially appreciate the fact that MJM admits his errors without needing to say that they were caused by having “too much courage”.

  15. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 2:37 pm:

    “I have made it a personal mission to take this issue head-on and correct past mistakes. I wish I would have done so sooner.”

    if only he was talking about Illinois pension problem, business climate, property tax system and the citizens distrust of state government.

  16. - Ole' Nelson - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 2:44 pm:

    “if only he was talking about Illinois pension problem,”

    Tier II was the fix, Lucky. He also took a stab at diminishing Tier I pensions, but the pesky Illinois Constitution got in the way.

  17. - Perrid - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 2:53 pm:

    All the words are great. If he is really following through, then I don’t see any reason to complain.

  18. - Quiet Sage - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 2:55 pm:

    It is very good that the Speaker has finally decided to fully tackle this issue.

    On the other hand, when an employee with 30-plus years of faithful employment is suddenly terminated (I believe two such employees are referenced in the letter), and those persons have had no opportunity to defend themselves prior to firing, it would not compromise the Speaker’s toughness in the least if he thanked them for their years of devoted service.

  19. - Leslie K - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 3:10 pm:

    Voted yes. A no-waffle admission that he should have acted sooner, meaningful concrete steps he has personally taken, steps he is directing others to take, and a commitment going forward. I think both the op-ed and what he is doing are solid.

  20. - Rod - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 3:37 pm:

    The Speaker really avoids any discuss of the culture of sexual harassment that has been raised by numerous women in Springfield and in the Speaker’s Democratic Party offices in Chicago. He addresses only overt incidents of harassment and the failure of administrators he himself promoted over the years as a reward for being loyal party members.

    Are we to believe that the group of women in their 20s and 30s the Speaker met with did not discuss a “culture” of harassment, and confined their input into having appropriate retaliation free methods for reporting such sexual harassment?

  21. - Horizontal Man - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 4:15 pm:

    I think the tone is good and he’s heading in the right direction. I don’t like zero tolerance policies, especially in such a subjective area. Also, I’d like to see a little more light shined on his activities to make sure he follows through.

  22. - 312 - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 4:25 pm:

    “I wish I would have done so sooner. ”

    So do I, Mr. Speaker, so do I. Maybe I would have stayed in the business if you did.

  23. - downstate hack - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 4:25 pm:

    I don’t support Madigan but this is more than enough on this issue

  24. - Louis G Atsaves - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 4:32 pm:

    Voted yes. Interesting how both Rauner and Madigan admitted to mistakes in governing or in administration in their own way or style within a week of each mea culpa.

    What put this one in the positive column for me was retaining Maggie Hickey, former IG who was once a Rauner superstar until just recently. If Madigan truly follows through on this, then good for him and our state and those working for it.

    Light at the end of the tunnel in Illinois governance? Two wounded warriors licking their wounds on the eve of election?
    To paraphrase an old song lyric, what a long strange trip its been.

  25. - West Sider - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 4:50 pm:

    A clear description of the problem. A thoughtful and direct solution. A sincere expression of contrition.
    As others have noted- were that we had a Governor capable of these three.

  26. - Wensicia - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 5:17 pm:

    I credit the #MeToo movement. Without it, nothing changes.

  27. - Suomynana - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 5:56 pm:

    A serious effort by a serious individual, well done. Those are a lot of words for Mike Madigan. I am sure he means every one of them.

  28. - Shevek - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 6:52 pm:

    Yes - This is the most clear cut mea culpa apology I have ever heard from MJM. But we’ll see what his changes bring.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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