Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Power of a Woman

Just came off a phone call with a fellow female politician. We've decided there's a certain catharsis in saying over and over, "Dick. Dick. Dick. Dick. Dick. Dick. Dick."

And you need to say it seven times to have full effect.

She acts as a Board representative to a community advisory group. Some months ago, a member of the public came to the group and said that since it was hard for the public to come to physical meetings (cue smallest violin here: After all, you made it all the way here to complain, didn't you?), then she would like to set up a webpage where all the agendas and minutes can be posted. (That part's OK.) And she would also like to set up a chat area where members of the committee can talk freely with members of the public or with each other. (That part's NOT OK.)

My friend the Board member (female) told the Chair of the Committee (male) that such a website can be a really bad idea. It confuses the public and official agencies, for one thing, if there are official District websites and then there are personal websites with official-looking information on them. (And the request was that the official district website would link to this personal website. Bad.)

I think the Chair didn't want to deal. Basically.

Then this website designer shows up at an official open house soliciting email addresses from members of the public so that they can have access to the soon-to-be-developed site and associated Google group. (Note here—the Board rep is told that she can't have access. Wha?)

I think the Chair didn't want to deal with this either.

So the Board rep tells the Chair that he's walking down a path towards an illegal action. If the majority of the Committee ends up in that chatroom discussing ANY committee actions or opinions, then they have had a meeting which was not formally noticed nor open to the general public. Illegal. Attorneys General get a little annoyed about things like this.

I think the Chair didn't want to deal.

So Board member asks Chair to please talk to Legal Counsel if he won't believe her. So he does.

Legal Counsel tells Chair that not only is the chatroom illegal, but the entire website is illegal, if it contains the name of the District or contains its logo. The State Attorney General especially targets online groups, chatrooms, and websites in its continuing effort to make sure that all political decisions are made in public meetings. If the Chair won't shut this community member down, then Counsel will be HAPPY to write a cease and desist letter to the website designer, if only to protect the entire District and the Committee from litigation.

I think Chair STILL doesn't want to deal.

(Apparently there's some talk in here about how he doesn't want to get involved with the politics that are so harmful to the Board and the District as a whole. Umm, dude. You're working on an Advisory Committee to a Political Body discussing Community Issues. No politics? um, are you STUPID? This is right up there with people saying, "But I'm not a Poli-TI-shun, I just got elected to serve the community." Put a sock in it.)

Finally, we get to my favorite part of the story:

Chair (male) calls Board President (male) and asks him what he should do. Board President asks for the emails from Board rep (female) and Counsel (male). Reads them and says, "I agree with your Board Rep. She was on the right track all along. Even the attorney thinks so. Tell the community member what Legal Counsel said, and tell the committee that they cannot take part in this chatroom or google group."

Chair calls Board rep and says that he guesses she was right, but now he needs her help in figuring out how to "handle" the community member (who, by the way, had already set up the website in question, although it's gone today).

Board rep (female) calls me (female) to laugh at all this, and asks, "How come when I said it a month ago, it wasn't worth listening to? How come he needed not only a legal opinion but the Opinion of The Board President? Hmmm?"

"Well, my dear, "I reply. "It is simply because you don't have a dick."

"Dick. Dick. Dick. Dick."

"Dick. Dick. Dick."

I cannot tell you (or maybe I can) how many times my opinions or my tactics have had to be vetted past the only male member of the Board.

(Now, to his eternal credit, the one male Board member is unfailingly gracious and complimentary to his female colleagues. He Always says something like, "Well, I think Suisan's been saying that for a while." Or, "Why don't you talk to Suisan about that. She's already done all the legwork on it.")

But I find it so odd that the men involved in these endeavors NEED to hear Mr. Male's opinion, all the while telling me and the other female Board members that we're so intelligent, principled, hardworking, and valued. Yeah.

Dick. Dick. Dick. Dick. Dick. Dick. Dick.

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