Friday, February 16, 2007

why our sleazy mayor's misbehavior matters

So San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom confessed to having had an affair with Ruby Rippey-Tourk, the wife of his deputy chief-of-staff/election manager/close personal friend Alex Tourk. Of everyone I know, I'm virtually the only person who has any outrage. Everyone else in San Francisco has an "Eh, must have been a slow news day" take on it.

The overwhelming under-reaction seems to be an artifact from the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal: all these good Democrats have become conditioned into saying "a politician's sex life doesn't matter" and "that's his personal life, not his job performance."

So why is this different? In a lot of personal ways, Newsom was sleazier. Lewinsky was single, not married to a staff member/personal friend. A more real analogue would have been if Clinton had conducted an affair with James Carville's wife WHILE she was on the federal payroll, reporting directly to Clinton (although in this scenario, Mary Matalin would have had to have converted to the Democratic party). Alex Tourk was Newsom's James Carville.

And it directly relates to Newsom's job performance. Today's Chronicle reports that Ruby Rippey-Tourk, while working as Newsom's calendar secretary, took hundreds of hours of leave which she could not have conceivably qualified for. Her timesheets were not signed by supervisors but were approved. During her last nine months of employment, she did not work a single full week. Finally, she got a very suspicious $10,154 payment in "retroactive pay" when she quit. How would she have amassed over ten thousand in retroactive pay when she was never working her required hours? (In contrast, it seems Lewinsky, an unpaid intern, worked harder and more, hoping to run into the President)..

That is no way to run an office, clearly. If one staffer sleeps with the then-married mayor, that worker gets to take off all the time she wants AND gets a handsome leaving bonus... meanwhile the other workers are required to actually work full-time without mysterious "retroactive pay." This sort of sexual play and favoritism in the workforce is not legal and not ethical, and it would be no surprise if other female workers in the office filed gender discrimination and hostile atmosphere claims. In a corporation, you would expect the CEO to be fired for this behavior. The CEO of Boeing was kicked out over far less egregious behavior.

In a sidenote, I must say that Ruby Rippey-Tourk has the most amazing skull. Look at her cheekbones and jawbone: her skull is a work of architectural wonder. Imagine how great she'd look if she'd never taken up drugs.

UPDATE: it turns out that Rippey-Tourk's "retroactive pay" was sick leave donated to her by other City Hall staffers when she went into rehab, under a program where workers can donate sick leave towards others with catastrophic diseases. It also turns out that at least some of those other staffers were not happy about "giving" her their sick leave and felt pressured into it. It also turns out that her participating in this program was not exactly pukka: the program was designed for people who were either had a fatal disease or needed to care for a close loved one with a terminal disease, NOT drugged-out skanks who need rehab. The author of the law has spoken out that it was misapplied in this instance, and other city hall sources have said that she would not have qualified for this without a fatal disease alongside of a need to attend rehab.


Anonymous said...

Or she smiled. Or her eye wasn't twitching.

Polotics pisses me off.

Silliyak said...

I heard someone raise the question,why hasn't SHE apologized.

Unknown said...

She's working the 12 steps, so I believe her confessing the affair to her husband was part of her trying to confess & make amends to him for her prior misdeeds. It would be nice if she apologized to the city as well, but she wasn't elected; she was appointed by Newsom.

Rand Careaga said...

I hesitate to add a comment here since, unlike everyone else who has remarked on this sorry episode, I have times past behaved recklessly when my R-cortex has been overwhelmed by rising levels of testosterone. Sleazy the mayor may have been (although...did he make the first move? In the real world, actors of both genders have been known to short rational calculation under the spell of the primordial dream of the germ plasm), but unlike the rest of you I can't in conscience lob a stone. Don't let me interfere with your fun, though.

As to administrative shenanigans in the cold light of postcoital morning...well, that's another matter altogether, but as a dweller directly across the Bay I don't have a dog in that fight.

BTW, I do like the blog. Can't remember how I first stumbled across it.


Unknown said...

Thanks for commenting for the first time, Rand!

I don't care which one initiated; it was stupid on both parts. I care less about R.R-T because she was not an elected official (although she should not have been on the payroll, as it seems she was not able to even show up regularly, much less perform her duties adequately). I would NOT care if the mayor had an affair with someone who was NOT on the payroll and not married to his friend/campaign manager. I rolled my eyes but didn't make an issue (or blog my annoyance) when he was dating a teenager who was drinking with him in public... that was supremely bad judgment and arguably illegal (the alcohol part, she was above the age of consent).

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