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The Report: Women Discriminated Against by "Good Old Boys"

Written By Editor on 10/25/13 | 10/25/13

Another wrinkle has emerged in the Fitzmaurice and Walsh report released by the Board of Supervisors. According to multiple female employees, there were claims that women were "subjected to acts of discrimination." The 14-male dominated body was described as a "good old boys club." Members of the Board and female department heads believed that female department heads made less money for doing the same duties on the Board.

Colleen Fulford from the Emergency Management Office claimed that she was interrupted by Supervisor Phil Skowfoe and Treasurer Bill Cherry after a disagreement at a flood-related meeting. Supervisor Harold Vroman said that Bill Cherry insulted her in the hallway. Mr. Cherry denied this version strongly.

Of those that argued that women were discriminated against were Supervisors Anne Batz, Sandra Manko, Bill Goblet, and Tom Murray. Ms. Batz believed that she was excluded from meetings for being a woman. Later during the interview she said that instead she may have been excluded because she was a new Board member, "does not carry many votes, and is a woman." She added that she thought that some members of the County Board did not believe that women should even be on the Board. She had no firm anecdotes, but it was a "feeling."

Sandra Manko said something similar. She said that the reason for the alleged discrimination was because "I'm a Democrat, I'm a female and I'm old." The worst of the offenders she stated was Cobleskill Supervisor Tom Murray. Murray "went up one side of her and down another" during a meeting.

Mr. Murray himself said that the atmosphere was instead due to others' dislike of intelligent women.

"Every time we get a really smart female-- we have some bright girls-- we have Alicia Terry, I'll just name a few. We have Alicia Terry, Cassandra Ethington's just so bright, Colleen [Fullford] I'm sure is bright. I see these people being, I don't know if it's discriminated against, but they aren't treated like they should be treated. These girls should be wrapped in cotton and put in a glass jar so nothing happens to them."

Murray said that Bill Cherry unfairly called out Cassandra Ethington. Mr. Cherry called for her resignation publicly in late 2011 and it was featured during a Board meeting and on the local news. Several employees, Supervisors, and Mr. Murray believed that it was intimidation. he also said that women in the County should be paid more.

Former Supervisor William Goblet testified before his death that he felt that women were treated poorly in the County and recalled Bill Cherry's call for Mrs. Ethington's resignation. He also said that some women were spoken to disrespectfully in general at meetings. He said, "Some of the way these guys talk to these women, you know, someone should get up and bash them."

Alicia Terry said that female employees not represented by the union contract were targeted. She also claimed to be at the Cherry-Fullford incident. When Ms. Terry was vigorously criticized by Phil Skowfoe at a meeting, no one defended her. She also believed that there was a gender wage gap and that she did not receive enough money for the amount of work she does. She also spoke to other Supervisors about the situation.

She recounted former County Clerk Lee Lacy saying that women should "wear a skirt and make-up if they wanted to improve their relation with the Board" about 15 years ago. She also said that Mr. Cherry questioned her and her staff's competency and that he had come publicly to the press to complain about her job performance.

Perhaps the most controversial comments regarding gender in the County workplace comes from Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington herself. She said that County Republican Party Chair Lewis Wilson said to Mr. Cherry that "she floats into a room, flaunts her boobs and blue eyes and gets the guys to give her whatever she wants." She said that this was told this by three Supervisors. This was confirmed by two.

The majority of female Department heads, however, did not state that they were victims of discrimination.

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Norie61 said...

The real question is why does Mr.Cherry have so much power. I think as County Treasurer he should stick to that. If other positions he holds are really needed they need to find someone else. What we have done is create our own monster This is getting more disturbing by the minute. The stuff that has been going on for years is intolerable. So guys, as you scramble to cover your asses remember this. It takes a woman to run a household filled with kids!

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