Tag Archives: firing

Ethics complaints filed by Republicans against Sen. Baldwin are dismissed

The Senate ethics panel has dismissed three complaints filed by Republicans against Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin over her firing of a top-level staff member and handling of allegations at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Baldwin on Thursday released an Aug. 14 letter from the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics notifying her that the ethics complaints had been dismissed because they lacked merit. All three related to the firing of Baldwin’s former deputy state director Marquette Baylor and allegations that Baldwin mishandled a whistleblower’s reports of abuse at the VA hospital.

“It should be clear to everyone that these frivolous allegations are false and were nothing more than political smears,” Baldwin’s spokesman John Kraus said in a statement. “Senator Baldwin has not let these political attacks distract from the important work she has done working with Wisconsin veterans and their families to bring reform to the VA.”

Baylor, the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust in April requested an investigation into Baldwin’s handling of abuse allegations at the Tomah Veterans Affairs hospital and Baylor’s firing in January.

Baylor alleged in her complaint that Baldwin used her as a scapegoat in the office’s mishandling of reports of overprescribing of narcotics and retaliatory behavior at the hospital.

Baldwin said in February that Baylor was terminated due to long-term performance issues that weren’t exclusive to her dealing with concerns about the Tomah hospital. The senator later admitted responsibility for her staff’s mishandling of reports.

The committee told Baldwin the complaints lacked substantial merit and did not sufficiently allege facts or provide evidence of a violation of law, Senate rule or regulation. The committee plans to take no further action and closed the complaints, its lead attorney Deborah Sue Mayer told Baldwin.

“It is up to the people of Wisconsin to determine whether Senator Baldwin’s actions were appropriate,” Baylor’s attorney Todd Graves said in an email in reaction to the dismissal.

Messages left with the Wisconsin Republican Party and FACT were not immediately returned.

A VA report in March month concluded that patients at the Tomah facility were more likely than patients at other VA hospitals to receive high doses of pain killers. The report also said there was an atmosphere of fear among staff members that affected patient care.

In August, the VA’s inspector general said deficiencies in care led to the mixed drug toxicity death last year of Jason Simcakoski, a 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran from Stevens Point. The director of the Tomah facility was fired in September.

San Francisco mayor may fire police over racist, homophobic texts

The mayor of San Francisco said this week that four police officers under investigation in the sending of racist and homophobic texts will be fired if the probe determines they sent the messages.

Mayor Edwin M. Lee called the messages heinous and despicable, and called for immediate disciplinary action against the officers. 

The city’s Board of Supervisors said it will hold a hearing to look into bias in the city’s justice system and ask for input from the San Francisco Police Department, public defender’s office, district attorney’s office and Office of Citizen Complaints, which investigates complaints against police officers.

“When things of this nature surface, we have to look long and hard at what’s actually happening in the department,” said board President London Breed.

The texts targeting blacks, Mexicans, Filipinos and gay men were discovered by federal authorities investigating former police Sgt. Ian Furminger, who was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 41 months in federal prison. 

The names of the officers have not been released by police, but attorneys representing them have identified them as Michael Robison, 46; Noel Schwab, 49; Rain Daugherty, 40; and Michael Celis, 47.

Attorney Alison Berry Wilkinson said Daugherty is “appropriately ashamed by his impulsive and insensitive banter, and accepts full responsibility for the content of those text messages that he sent, which are by no means a reflection of his true character or his style of policing.”

Robison and Celis also regret their involvement in the messages, said Anthony Brass, their lawyer.

“They are very clear that this is not acceptable banter,” Brass said, “and they understand why the communities in San Francisco would take this very seriously and find it deeply offensive.”

Brass also said Schwab is one of the officers under investigation. However, a lawyer he said represents Schwab was not immediately available for comment.

The officers have been reassigned and will have no interaction with the public during the investigation, a decision the association supports.

The messages were sent between Furminger and the officers in 2011 and 2012 and disclosed in court documents, authorities said.

“The content of these text messages displays a bias that is incompatible with the values of our city and incompatible with the ability to perform sworn duties as a police officer,” Lee said. “If these statements are attributable to any San Francisco police officer, I join Police Chief Greg Suhr in seeking nothing less than termination.”

The San Francisco Police Officers Association issued a statement saying the actions were not emblematic of individuals it represents.

“All these racist and homophobic text messages, if true, are disgraceful and humiliating to the community we serve,” the statement said.

Authorities said the texts feature the repeated use of the phrase “white power” and references to burning crosses and the Ku Klux Klan. 

District Attorney George Gascon said his office will review all cases going back 10 years that the officers were linked to either by writing a report, submitting evidence or testifying in court. He said there is no place for bigotry in San Francisco.

Brian Getz, Furminger’s attorney in the federal case, told the San Francisco Examiner that the messages were taken out of context.

Union won’t support fired lesbian teacher

A lesbian teacher challenging her dismissal from an Ohio Catholic school says the local union for Catholic educators has decided not to proceed with her complaint.

Carla Hale said on May 13 that the grievance committee for the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators isn’t supporting her efforts to get back her job as a physical-education teacher.

The association hasn’t returned telephone calls seeking comment.

Hale also filed a complaint with the city of Columbus, which prohibits firings based on sexual orientation.

Hale says she was fired from Bishop Watterson High School after her partner’s name was printed in her mother’s published obituary and someone complained.

Bishop Frederick Campbell says Hale was fired not because of her sexual orientation, but because she violated the church’s moral teaching by having what he describes as a “quasi-spousal relationship” with a woman.

High school coach suspended after rant against gays, Michelle Obama

The Lauderdale County School Board in Alabama has voted to suspend a high school football coach who was recorded making derogatory remarks to a class of students about gays and first lady Michelle Obama.

Lauderdale County High School football coach Bob Grisham has been suspended without pay for 10 days and was ordered to attend sensitivity training for four days.

School board officials have also removed Grisham from his position teaching fifth period psychology.

Grisham has said he misspoke during a debate-style discussion that an unidentified student recorded on Jan. 28. 

In a 90-minute audio of the coach’s remarks, he said the first lady had a “fat butt.” Regarding gays, he referred several times to “queers” and said, “I don’t hate them as a person but what they do is wrong, it’s an abomination against God. I don’t like being around queers.”

LGBT civil rights advocates have encouraged the school board to dismiss Grisham.

CNN’s Martin sort-of apologizes for anti-gay Super Bowl tweets

CNN commentator Roland Martin has responded via Twitter about comments he made on Super Bowl Sunday that triggered a Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation complaint.

GLAAD called for Martin’s firing from CNN after Martin tweeted about a Super Bowl ad from H&M that featured David Beckham in less than his soccer uniform. Martin said, “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!”

GLAAD, after a series of exchanges with Martin, issued a statement, “Martin has a history of anti-LGBT views. GLAAD is calling on him to be fired, joining many other LGBT activists and bloggers.”

Martin has since tweeted his explanation:

“Fam, let me address the issue that some in the LGBT community have raised regarding some of my Super Bowl tweets yesterday.

I made several cracks about soccer as I do all the time. I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham

ad, and I’m sorry folks took it otherwise. It was meant to be a deliberately over the top and sarcastic crack about soccer; I do not

advocate violence of any kind against anyone gay, or not. As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, anytime soccer comes up during football

season it’s another chance for me to take a playful shot at soccer, nothing more.”

Galliano sacked over anti-Semitism, fashion world reeling

John Galliano, long a top fashion-world provocateur on and off the runway, went too far this time.

The storied French label Christian Dior said it was firing the zany British bad boy after video showing him spouting “I love Hitler” in a drunken rant went viral online – sending shock waves through the start of Paris Fashion Week.

The ouster followed a barrage of accusations and revelations about Galliano’s outbursts that spelled major career trouble for the talented and moneymaking couturier.

The allegations of bigotry had put Dior, which battles crosstown rival Chanel for the title of world’s top fashion house, in the hot seat: Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman, the new advertising face of the Miss Dior Cherie perfume line, who is Jewish, expressed fury over the remarks.

Galliano’s sacking marked the latest bout of scandal to shake the rarified fashion world, including last year’s suicide of Alexander McQueen, another celebrated British designer, and supermodel Kate Moss’ brief stint in the industry wilderness after photos of her snorting cocaine went public in 2005.

“Knowing John’s proclivity for provocation on the runway and in life, to hear such accusations wasn’t surprising,” said Dana Thomas, a fashion guru and author of “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster,” an expose of the luxury industry.

“But the videos that went viral yesterday were too damning to deny,” she said. “I’m sure (Dior CEO Sidney) Toledano was deeply hurt because he’s Jewish.”

“It’s an insolence that’s unforgivable,” she added.

Fashionistas almost uniformly said Dior would pull through the controversy, and some even suggested the episode gave it a chance to clean its slate after Galliano’s 15-year rein as its mastermind of creation.

The 50-year-old designer’s tailspin began after a couple accused him of hurling anti-Semitic insults at them at La Perle, a trendy eatery in Paris’ Marais district – a hip neighborhood known for its sizable gay and Jewish populations.

As word got out that police were investigating, another woman came forward accusing Galliano of similar anti-Semitic insults in October at the same brasserie.

An apparent smoking gun emerged when the British daily The Sun posted a video on its website showing Galliano, his speech slurred, appearing to taunt two women diners.

At one point, a woman’s voice asks Galliano, “Are you blond, with blue eyes?”

Galliano replied: “No, but I love Hitler, and people like you would be dead today. Your mothers, your forefathers, would be … gassed and … dead.”

Making anti-Semitic remarks can bring up to six months in prison in France, and Galliano appeared in a Paris police station Monday to face the accusations against him.

In what some hailed as an appropriate and quick response, Christian Dior SA said it had launched termination proceedings for Galliano and decried “the particularly odious nature of the behavior and words” in the video.

Galliano’s lawyer did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

News of Galliano’s firing hit on the start of Paris’ nine-day-long ready-to-wear marathon like a tidal wave, with journalists, editors and stylists reading out Dior’s statement on a shuttle bus between shows.

Some murmured that Dior had long been looking to part with Galliano, and this was a way out. Others feared that it might bring his brilliant career to a tragic finish – and possibly overshadow his legacy.

Dior said it still planned to go ahead with its
Galliano-designed fall-winter 2011-12 collection as part 
of Paris fashion week.

Trying to limit the fallout, press officers at the designer’s signature label, John Galliano, spent much of the day checking with journalists, critics, stylists and editors to make sure they would be attending its women’s wear show, scheduled for March 6.

Questions were bound to arise about whether Galliano’s fame and fawning fans had gone to his head, or whether he had succumbed to the pressures of the high-octane, big-payoff industry.

“The situation is extremely sad. Creative people like John – great artists, great writers – often wrestle with the devil in the form of the bottle or drugs,: Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of American Marie Claire, said. After seeing the video, she said, “You were left thinking, ‘What on earth was he thinking?’”

“The pressure is probably less when you start somewhere than when you’ve been there for some time and have to continue to produce at such a high level,” she said. “We’re very curious to see who replaces John.”

The guessing-game got going in earnest from the moment it became clear Galliano was out.

While some fashion insiders put their money on Alber Elbaz, who has transformed Lanvin from a musty old label into one of Paris’ hottest, others said Givenchy’s Riccardo Tischi was their man.

Since his appointment in 1996, Galliano, who was born in Gibraltar and grew up in London, made an indelible mark on the storied House of Dior. Season after season, he reinterpreted the iconic New Look pieces pioneered by founder Christian Dior, managing to make the designs first fielded after World War II fresh and youthful.

Galliano’s glorious past collections channeled inspiration like ancient Egypt – with models in Nefertiti eye makeup and King Tut beards – as well as Masai tribespeople accessorized with rows of beaded necklaces and crop-brandishing equestrians of the 19th century.

Always theatrical and sometimes outrageous, Galliano’s star-studded runway shows are big-budget blockbusters and among the most-anticipated displays on the Paris calendar.

For years, Galliano has made a spectacle of himself at the end of his shows, prancing out in a rooster-style strut, arms akimbo, his chin up and head cocked back. Backstage he holds court for reporters’ questions and fan emulation while seated on a high-backed chair resembling a throne.

Galliano’s days holding court at Dior are over.

The last straw appeared to be a statement by Portman, who won an Oscar for “Black Swan,” expressing shock and disgust at the video. “As an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way,” she said.

Marcellous Jones, editor-in-chief of thefashioninsider.com magazine, said he was “really surprised that Dior actually had the conviction to fire John Galliano because he makes them a lot of money.”

“I think we were all expecting them to send him to rehab and so they are actually firing him. It’s a bold move,” he said. “It marks a dramatic end to one of the greatest eras in the history of the house of Dior in terms of its international reputation.”

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, praised Dior’s move in a statement saying Galliano’s words had caused pain around the world – notably among Holocaust survivors and their relatives.

“The fact that someone is brilliant in a certain field does not immunize him from facing the consequences of words that are hateful, bigoted or prejudiced,” Foxman said. “Galliano is a public figure with a high profile, but he is apparently also a serial bigot.”

Outside Dior’s flagship store on ritzy Avenue Montaigne in Paris, fashion aficionados expressed surprise and anger.

“I’m shocked because the name of Dior has always been related to John Galliano – he’s creative, he’s a big designer, and everybody is waiting for his fashion show every season,” said Shams, a Kuwaiti singer. “I can’t believe it.”

– From The Associated Press