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Timing Of Sexual Harassment Resolution Troubles At Least One Milwaukee Common Council Member

Backside of Milwaukee City Hall
Richie Diesterheft
/
Flickr
The Milwaukee Common Council has adopted a resolution aimed at eventually making sure that all city elected officials are governed by policies regulating sexual harassment and other forms of intimidation.

The Milwaukee Common Council has adopted a resolution aimed at eventually making sure that all city elected officials are governed by policies regulating sexual harassment and other forms of intimidation. But prior to that unanimous vote Tuesday, there was controversy.

The issue first made headlines a few weeks ago, when city staff determined an anti-harassment policy did not apply to Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer.

The Department of Employee Relations was looking into allegations that Spencer harassed female staffers — allegations the city attorney, who is Black, has denied.

At Tuesday's Common Council meeting, Ald. Nikiya Dodd, who also is Black, questioned the timing of the resolution, coming after Spencer was first elected last year.

"It's just curious to me that this would happen after an African American is elected to a prominent position. This is something that consistently happens on a regular basis. However, I will applaud the effort and certainly will join in because I agree with you. But it's sad that it had to take a Black man to be elected, and be accused for something we don't know if it happened or didn't happen," Dodd said during the meeting.

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screengrab by Chuck Quirmbach
Ald. Ashanti Hamilton speaks during Tuesday's Common Council meeting.

But Ald. Ashanti Hamilton responded that he's comfortable going ahead with the effort.

"This has an impact not just on one situation, but I think it could help change the culture of what the expectation is of how we deal with each other. Also, when you feel like you have the immunity bubble of elected office," Hamilton said.

Milwaukee staff will be directed to report recommendations to the Common Council on the best way to make the city's anti-harassment policy apply to all employees, elected or otherwise.

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