November 30, 2006, - 2:58 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
We’re constantly hearing from feminist whiners about this discrimination or that discrimination against women. But all of the feminists are completely silent regarding the female firefighters of the Minneapolis Fire Department who’ve sued over bias and sexual harassment perpetrated by the Minneapolis Fire Chief.
Hmmm . . . . Maybe it might have something to do with the fact that the harasser/discriminator–and their boss–isn’t a man. She’s a woman . . . and a lesbian who discriminates against straight women and all men. Heralded as the first openly gay (and lesbian) fire chief in the nation, here’s yet another example of how “diversity” for the sake of “diversity” isn’t a good thing:
MINNEAPOLIS — A city panel recommended yesterday that officials fire Bonnie Bleskachek, the nation’s first openly lesbian big-city fire chief, following lawsuits filed by firefighters accusing her of harassment and discrimination. . . .
Bleskachek, 43, was hailed as a trailblazer when she was promoted to the top job two years ago, but her tenure has been troubled.
Three female firefighters have sued, alleging various acts of discrimination and sexual harassment. Two of the lawsuits were settled, but this month a male firefighter brought a lawsuit alleging he was denied advancement because he is male and not gay.
A city investigation is still underway . This summer, a separate investigation by the city’s Department of Civil Rights into a 2003 complaint by a male firefighter — brought when Bleskachek was a battalion chief — found it “likely” that the department gave preferential treatment to lesbians or those who socialized with them.
Bleskachek was ill yesterday and unavailable for comment on the severance agreement. She has denied wrongdoing in the past.
Burg said the chief’s employment agreement calls for her to be reassigned as battalion chief. She would then request a demotion to captain, he said. The agreement, Burg said, included a cash payment of $30,000 to $40,000 — the difference in annual pay between a chief and captain.
Rybak aide Jeremy Hanson said before the panel’s meeting it was not a “certainty” that Bleskachek would remain with the department.
The city has spent more than $410,000 on the investigation, legal settlements, and compensation of Bleskachek during her paid leave, which began March 22.
Incredibly the city originally did not want to fire her (only give her a demotion) and was going to give her a a cash settlement of tens of thousands of dollars. What fireman would want to work with her, given what’s happened? Fortunately, an outcry from angered Minneapolis residents changed the outcome.
Excerpts from a great column on this by Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Nick Cannon:
“She has made the Minneapolis Fire Department the most well-known fire department in the world,” one (male) fire captain with 20 years’ service says sarcastically, adding that he and his colleagues are often asked by firefighters in other cities to explain what’s wrong with the department in Minnesota’s largest city. “You just can’t buy that kind of publicity. Thanks to Bonnie B for making the MFD the No. 1 comedy hit show in the country.” . . .
It’s not fighting fires or fighting sexism that got Bleskachek in hot water. It is that she is accused of abusing her rank to reward or punish women firefighters. Not for how they put out fires, but for their willingness — or their refusal — to put out. For her.
If a chief named Bernie, not Bonnie, had pulled that stuff (there have been four lawsuits and four civil rights complaints against Bleskachek) there would be no dawdling over what to do. As I wrote after Bleskachek was placed on paid leave, a Guy Chief would be lucky to end up as a volunteer firefighter in Palookaville. . . .
As things go when these kind of things happen, there has been some sugarcoating of the problem. Let’s cut through the smoke: Bonnie Bleskachek isn’t losing her job because she let her love life “color her ability to manage the fire department.” She is losing her job because she managed the fire barns to make sure her love life didn’t go cold. That’s a big no-no, no matter what side of the plate you may swing from.
Personally, I’m opposed to most female firefighters, straight or not. Most simply don’t have the strength to pull people out of a burning building while lugging heavy equipment and protective gear on their backs. And many fire departments around the country–in an effort to practice affirmative action recruiting–lower standards for the women they hire. And the women simply aren’t of any use when a real rescue is needed.
They can’t put out fires. But apparently, at least one of them knew how to light her own fire . . . especially when she was the boss. (I think it’s safe to say she was probably the “he” in “her” relationships.)
Tags: battalion chief, Bernie, Bonnie Bleskachek, Bonnie Bleskachek Harassed, chief, chief and captain, columnist, Debbie Schlussel, Department of Civil Rights, fire captain, fire chief, Guy Chief, heavy equipment, Jeremy Hanson, Lesbian Fire Chief, Minneapolis, Minneapolis Fire Chief, Minneapolis Fire Department, Minnesota, Nick Cannon, Palookaville, Rybak aide, Tribune, USD