Opinion » Shredder

Sex, sex, sex!!!

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It may be time to bet on a Sarah Palin presidency because other unlikely things are coming true: For one thing, I’m biting my tongue.

When I first heard the official word about why Gail Wilcox, one of the county’s top administrators, was fired, I couldn’t help but wonder if we were seeing a double standard.

We’ve all heard various accounts of what precipitated the end for the county’s top two administrators. Top guy David Edge told the Tribune’s Bob Cuddy he’d bought Wilcox a creepily titled book and the two had engaged in what seemed excruciatingly intricate discussions about her personal life. She eventually sued for sexual harassment, adding many more icky details in the court file. When Edge left, he complained of “stifling political correctness,” giving ample weight to the charges. So there’s that.

But if a person focused only on the county’s official responses, you’d have to conclude that Edge was fired simply because the board wanted a change. The board said his firing “is in the best interests of this organization and this county as a whole.” The final end came across as a retirement party—with a fair amount of tut-tutting of the media thrown in. Edge said he’d seen it coming with the change in direction of the board and left with the parting prize of $237,000 in severance and vacation pay.

So that’s the official word on Edge. Contrast that with the way the county officially fired the woman who brought the accusations against Edge. They said she officially wasn’t moral enough to hold the office.

“The board found that Ms. Wilcox’s conduct violated her contractual duty to maintain exemplary behavior and that it violated the common law duty to avoid conflicts of interest,” the statement read.

Again, the boss who engaged in in-depth discussions of his employee’s sexual life? He walks with $237,000.

But the lady who had the creepy book bought for her and had her boss wanting to talk all about her sex life? Her behavior isn’t exemplary enough: There’s the door.

You could chalk this up to the idea that it’s a bad idea to sue your employer. But you could also chalk this up to very different standards for a man and woman. You could, but I’m holding my tongue because of the very pregnant suggestion in the county’s official statement that her conduct “violated the common law duty to avoid conflicts of interest.”

Since they’re publicly releasing a version of the report on the investigation conducted by a $300-per-hour private attorney, one can only assume there’s some good stuff in there to support the “conflict” charge. We’ll wait and see.
 
The Art Center cover-up

Speaking of standards, the SLO Art Center recently appeared to have cast aside, disrobed so to speak, its well-worn leaning toward modesty with its new exhibit “Corpora in Extremis,” literally meaning bodies to the limit.

The exhibit is just nudes, nudes, nudes! Nude sculptures, nude paintings, and they’re good, thoughtful works; the exhibit itself seems to be a large and necessary step away from the conservative parochialism that too often passes for artistic sensibilities here. For a center trying to make the case for a new modern building, it seemed a fitting argument that they’re in the modern age.

Then they had to go and ruin it. The Art Center staff have been draping or shielding some of the nudes—seemingly without rhyme nor reason, since others are left exposed—when kids’ art classes are held in the center.

I’m sure the explanation will involve an instinct to want to protect the children’s delicate sensibilities, but that’s a bumpkin’s instinct. Kids know that people are naked under their clothes. Putting up the drapes will only guarantee that they peek underneath. Perhaps it would make sense to try to protect children from extremely sexual images, but these aren’t that. These are just good examples of art, which is what the classes—the entire center—are all about.

Fun with typos

Santa Maria’s daily paper, the Santa Maria Times, recently ran an article that was a pretty close approximation of a story our sister paper, the Sun, did a month or two ago about a program to train more women police officers.

This isn’t about tooting the Sun’s horn—who cares? But the Times made one of those funny, sometimes icky, mistakes that happen in newspapers.

First, allow me to note the headline of their article: “Looking for a few good women.”

And there was a toll-free number to call for more information about the program. If you called the number—seeking more information about the program for women cops—this is what you’d hear: “Wanna get with the sluttiest girls your nasty imagination can dream up?”

And: “We can be whatever you want us to be, baby!”

Turns out there’s a sex line with the same digits as the school line—only the sex line starts with a “1-800,” while the school line starts with a “1-866.” So that’s that. Funny stuff. Just please don’t ask me how I immediately recognized the number.

Shredder can be reached at shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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