Daily Archives: March 7, 2018

2 posts

On Angels and Fast-Tailed Girls

…. It is certainly an abuse of power and reeks of sexual abuse grooming. Any discussion about the teen-aged girl and her “responsibility” in this scenario is shaming children for their sexual exploitation by adult men.

 

By Kate Hamilton Moser

Last week, news broke that a well-respected member of our state Legislature was exchanging messages with a 16-year-old girl. The messages were described as “unusually familiar and affectionate in tone.” What does that mean? Who determines what is “unusually familiar and affectionate in tone?” As a parent, I can tell you that any messages from an adult to my 16-year-old of any gender–particularly from an adult with significant power and authority–would need to be perceived as “professional and detached” in order for me to read them as appropriate.

When this state legislator was confronted by The Courant about these messages, he initially stated that he didn’t remember the girl.

He didn’t remember the girl? How is that possible?

He didn’t remember telling a 16 year-old-girl, “Really hun trust I think we going to keep a lot of secrets between us?” How is that possible? Does he routinely say these things to 16-year-old girls? Did he not remember because she wasn’t that important to him and because this is routine behavior for him? Are there too many messages with other underage girls to keep up with this one?

When the state legislator was again confronted, he told reporters to contact his attorney. His attorney stated that the elected representative “did not do anything improper, but will not comment further based on my advice.”

“Good night love and sweet dreams and thank you for coming into my life,” one text read, while others said: “I wish you were living in Hartford. We be hanging out all the times”; “You so beautiful and gorgeous”; “Really hun trust I think we going to keep a lot of secrets between us”; “Hope you know how to keep things to yourself when we conversate”; “I’m going to help your mom get that job in Hartford.”

Does that sound like proper communications from a 57-year-old man and state representative to a 16-year-old girl?

There is nothing improper about saying any of these things to a 16-year-old girl? What about “I’m going to help your mom get that job in Hartford”? In what world is it proper of an elected representative to discuss employment opportunities of a parent with a 16-year-old girl? What was asked of her and what sort of secrets did she need to keep in order for her mom to “get that job in Hartford”?

These aren’t messages that many of us routinely send to our friends that we forget about 2.5 years later. If you ask me if I remember complaining about something to a friend, or flirting with my spouse in a message from 2015, I probably won’t remember. If you ask me about messages that I sent to an underage child that were “unusually familiar and affectionate in tone,” I would certainly remember. Why? Because I did exchange messages with a 16-year-old boy last year, and I did so carefully.

These messages were about political events and issues involving town politics. I always communicated at a level where I would not be uncomfortable with any adult reading them at any time. I always imagined that I was exchanging messages with him AND his mother AND DCF. While I texted messages that I hoped were warm and funny in tone, it was always at the front of my mind that despite this boy’s intelligence and maturity, he was a 16-year-old boy. I respected him as a teen and my responsibility as the adult in the relationship.

This state legislator was immediately stripped of his titles, committee responsibilities, and asked to resign is role as state representative by the House majority leader. The governor and mayor of the town his district represents also followed suit. This state legislator did resign from his role on his town committee, but with a town committee election scheduled for Tuesday, March 6, the deadline had already passed to remove his name from the ballot.

Why hasn’t he resigned his role as state representative? Does he think that he can ride out this scandal and abuse of a child without any real consequences? Is someone whispering in his ear that all will be fine and to let it blow over?

Or is it something else? Is it because there is this idea that underage girls, if their bodies have developed, are ready for sexual relationships with adult men? Do they believe that she is “asking for it?” Did she flirt with him? Is she a fast-tailed girl? A bad girl? Did she use her years of experience as a 16-year-old to seduce and lure an experienced and powerful 57-year-old man into this relationship? Or is she merely part of the spoils of being an experienced and powerful man?

No. She is a child. Legally a child. A minor. There is nothing she could have said or done that makes this relationship and these messages “proper”. It may not be illegal, yet, but it is not proper. Not from any adult in our society and particularly not for a man elected to represent his district in the Connecticut General Assembly. It is certainly an abuse of power and reeks of sexual abuse grooming. Any discussion about the teen-aged girl and her “responsibility” in this scenario is shaming children for their sexual exploitation by adult men.

What will it take for this state representative to resign his position and change the culture surrounding the sexual exploitation and abuse of children in our communities? There is legislation being debated in committees in Hartford now that can address some of the legal holes that allow child sexual predators to abuse and exploit children without fear of any legal consequences.

Should the state legislator in question be allowed to vote on those bills? Should he be allowed to use his still considerable power and influence to negotiate with other members of the legislature in regards to these bills? Is that why we elect people to represent us and our interests at the Capitol?

Kate Hamilton Moser is vice president of legislative action for Connecticut NOW.

 

 

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Clearing Up Paid Leave Myths

By Nichole Berklas

It’s time to clear up some myths about paid family leave.

SB-1: An Act Concerning Earned Family and Medical Leave and H.B. 5387: An Act Concerning Paid Family Medical Leave, are set for hearing Thursday at 2:30 p.m., and making their way through the legislative process. With the public hearing fast approaching, it’s time to clear up the following misconceptions.

  1. We already have FMLA, that is enough.  Check out our earlier blog for more details on this issue- the short and sweet answer is NO.  http://now-ct.org/but-wait-dont-we-already-have-paid-family-leave/
  2. What employees will be eligible?  Any employee who has earned $2,325 in the highest earning quarter within the five most recent completed calendar quarters is eligible, and their eligibility is determined based on earnings with multiple employers.  
  3. What if YOU are the employer?  Needing paid leave does not restrict itself to employees only.  Self-employed people may choose to opt into the program should they want a safety net in the event (or when) life rears up!
  4. If you take leave, what do you get?   Employees may take up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, with an extra 2 weeks available if there is a serious health condition with a pregnancy that results in incapacity.  Employees receive 100% of their weekly wages, up to a cap of $1,000 per week.
  5. This seems great, BUT CONNECTICUT HAS NO MONEY.   The advantage of this program is that it is not dependent on the financial viability of the State.  The program is funded by a small employee premium of 0.5% of weekly earning, up to the SSI limit on deductions.  While the program will be administered by the CT Department of Labor, and will require personnel to administer, the costs of this administration has been factored into the program itself.  Start up costs will be funded by bond allocation, and premiums will be collected for a year prior to claimants being able to draw upon the fund, which will allow the program to be self-sustaining  and cover benefit claims as well as staffing needs.
  6. This will hurt businesses, and we certainly can’t afford that NOW.  When workers don’t have access to paid leave, they are more likely to leave their jobs.  Improving worker retention has real monetary benefits to employers large and small. After 10 years of paid family leave in California (the state with the longest existing program), employers overwhelming report positive or neutral impacts on their business and note increased morale and productivity in employees.

Nichole Berklas serves as Connecticut NOW’s representative to the Connecticut Campaign for Paid Family Leave.

 

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