When you get elected to the California State Legislature, one of the things you get to enjoy is a lot of mandated training classes, ranging from topics like ethics (how to be), sexual harassment (how to not), and workplace violence (how to deal).
Last Monday afternoon, a couple of dozen legislators attended a mandatory workplace violence training class — where the Assembly Rules Committee contracts with an outside law firm to come in and help legislators understand how to deal with potential workplace violence issues that could take place in their Capitol or District offices. For those of you who have been in these kinds of training classes, you know that it is not unusual for there to be a great number of "real life scenarios" presented to the class, and this training was no different. In fact the attorney teaching the class brought videos to show the group to help illustrate extreme situations that could occur, so that after watching them discussions can take place about how to best handle each.
Everything was going along normally until the attorney queued up a scenario video that was described to me by Assemblymembers Martin Garrick and Shannon Grove as follows. In the scenario there is a young female staffer in an Assembly office. She takes a rather forceful call from a male constituent who is very direct about telling the woman that the Assemblyman had been vote against tax increases. The guy then calls back using a different name — but he calls on her cell phone. When she asks how he got the number, he says, "the same way I know what grocery store you shop at…"
Very quickly Republican legislators start to make it clear during the training about how inappropriate that scenario was.
In an email exchange with Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries on the whole incident, he told me, "Rest assured it was COMPLETELY harmless with no insult intended – really."
Sincerity or sarcasm? One can never tell with Jeffries.
I spoke with Assemblyman Dan Logue, who was on hand was quite unhappy about the whole thing. He apparently called the instructor to task and requested the video be removed, and stated that he was offended by the inference that the perpetrator was a conservative and his actions were portrayed as hostile because he did not want the legislative member to vote to raise taxes. Logue felt it was a bad case of profiling and that it was an insult to tea party members and all California taxpayers.
No doubt right now, you can be sure of two things. The first is that the offensive scenario has been cut out of future workplace violence training classes. The second is that the Democrats who were at the training probably got a big chuckle over the whole thing!