Monday night, I attended the County Ledge Committee meetings of the Civic Center and then the Law Committee. Yup, usually both snorers but it is what happened within those meetings that kept me from posting about them last night. This was a night when I had to wonder “WWGD” (What would Googly do?)
I was late to the Civic Center Meeting (hung up in the Senate) and sprinted in just in time for the “gavel.” There was a short watering break and we moved right into the Law Committee. While Mr. Higgins, chairmam, was, I’m sure, brilliant in his facilitation, I don’t remember a bit of the discussion other than the irony of the presentation of Mr. Horstmyer’s ethics legislation…ya see, there was a strange happening at the very beginning of the meeting.
While the ledgers were getting positioned at the table, Mr. Steck, 15th county legislative district rep, Colonie Town Democratic Chair and former candidate for Mr. Tonko’s congressional seat, was taking a rest room break. My day had been a little hectic so I was quickly trying to gain knowledge of the topics up for discussion. Mr. Horstmyer valiantly pushed his legislation to increase ethical compliance in our County Legislature. Mr. Steck, having returned and with all the bravado that is Mr. Steck, exclaimed that this legislation is not really necessary…ya see, it is in State Law…”it’s redundant.” He says. Where have I heard that before?
So, with Mr. Horstmyer in his 11th mid-sentence, the female DGS staffer responsible for the 12th floor walked right into the middle of the room…points a finger shaky with anger at Mr. Steck and says with conviction…”Sir, I need to speak to you.” Steck jumped up immediately from the opposite side of the table…I was stunned….why would this legislator, viewed by most as a “bit of a snot,” jump up immediately to respond to this irate woman who had been cleaning the woman’s bathroom earlier in the evening. (I know because she had sweetly warned me not to use the hall water fountain for my water bottle…”yellow water” said she.)
Now this kind-hearted soul, was shaking with anger, couldn’t wait for a quick stepping Steck to come round the table and she blurts out, in front of the entire committee, Mr. Franchini, Mr. Rodat and Mr. McElroy…along with some of us less important people, “I can’t believe that you came into the restroom and, even though I warned you several times, you dared to pee with me standing there!!”
(we all know I’m paraphrasing, right? hey, I didn’t take notes and went straight into shock…I have, however confirmed my paraphrasing.)
Mr. Steck ran for the door in hushed tones saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Arms were flailing as Steck tried to move the angry woman away from the legislative meeting. There was a stunned silence in the meeting room, I knew the women were considering adding reinforcements and the men were thinking…well, you know how men think.
The room was soon graced with Mr. Steck with a quick…”all a mistake,” he says, shaking it off. I have no idea how the rest of the meeting went. At one point, during the hall discussion, Mr. Clenehan, boy genious, realized I was in the room…his head snapped on me with a smile…I read his mind…”I wouldn’t know what to write…I’m stunned” I responded. There was a nervous giggle in the room.
I left the meeting quickly as I had another on the agenda, while walking out with one of the female ledgers, I turned to her and said, “you know he did it.” She confirmed she had absolutely no doubt in her mind. Ya see, and several have confirmed, that’s just how Phil is. I feel a little irritated with myself as I had finally “befriended him.” I wasn’t going to potty with him any time soon but I had had a beer with him along with some others after a ledge meeting…I was willing to give him a chance…maybe I had misjudged…that was then.
I was saddened to hear one of my favorite male ledgers leave that meeting and utter, “She handled that completely inappropriately.” I was appalled. The worker had been in the wrong? What if the shoe had been on the other foot….what if this male legislator had a night job cleaning the county rest rooms and a female ledger had entered the restroom he was cleaning? What if he had said “excuse me, ma’am, excuse me, ma’am, excuse me, ma’am” just to get a sneer, a smart remark and the opportunity to watch the queen pee. Would that have been acceptable conduct for the peeing legislator or would the male cleaner be insulted? (Okay, my boys, get that kinkiness out of your heada and think clearly.)
Well, all I can say is Mr. Steck is damn lucky he didn’t run into me cleaning that restroom…he’d be walkin’ a little funny today. And, shame on you ledger who blamed the woman…shame on you.
So, I got the whole story today…seems that Mr. Steck ran to the restroom, the staffer was cleaning a stall and Mr. Steck walked in toward the urinal, she says “excuse me, sir” he continues to walk toward the urinal (I might add here, this worker fully acknowledges she is not a small woman and not a quiet woman) she shouts a bit louder, “excuse me, sir.” Steck continues to ignore…he’s in a hurry to get back and shoot down that ethics legislation. The worker tries one more time, looking at an unzipping (or unzipped…let’s say, prepped) Phil, “Did you NOT hear me?” We all know that smart assed lawyers, a category within which Mr. Steck easily fits, love that double negative to confuse the “commoners.” “No,” he says looking over his shoulder at her and finalizes his business.
While this was hard for me to comprehend, the more folks I talked to the less hard it became to comprehend. Seems that another woman, the one responsible for the ninth floor last year, had the same experience with Mr. Steck. I don’t believe she reported the situation. Now, this is disturbing on several levels and I’m not sure which should be given a priority.
To me, the lack of respect for those workers Steck purports to respect leads me to pledge to ensure that every stance he takes in support of labor be challenged. His respect for women is personally insulting. I had sensed this disrespect in his demeanor since the very first day I was introduced to Mr. Steck…I can’t tell you why…I just sensed that he was uncomfortable in situations where he needed to speak to women as if they were “equal.”
Technically, Mr. Steck is this woman’s superior has he is a “member of the board” (as was the last woman that was “exposed” to Mr. Steck’s urgent needs). So, might this be considered harassment by the HR department? We can only wonder if that might be pursued but I think the case has merit.
This situation bothered me all night…it haunted me all day. I spoke to several people about my concerns and a pattern developed, the men laughed and the women were appalled just as I had been appalled. While we can all say we’ve moved beyond our equality issues and, in public, we all say we have respect for all individuals, it’s safe to say that, at least for this individual, actions speak louder than words.
Interestingly, I understand that Mr. Steck shared the experience with some of the male legislators after I left the meeting, “Yeah, I had my **** in my hand and then she came out of the stall…what was I gonna do?” Now, Mr. Steck, we all remember your incident last year…we all know that this woman would NEVER have disrupted her County Legislators in a meeting, putting her job on the line, had she felt there had been any mistake involved in this situation…this was blatent disrespect by a County Legislator. Heck, we could hear the goings on from the hall, Phil Steck doesn’t apologize for things he hasn’t done…Phil Steck fights even the smallest of slights…to the death.
Now, let’s put you, dear reader, in Mr. Steck’s position. You’ve run up to a bathroom having waited just a bit too long just to find that yellow bucket blocking the doorway. If it were you, wouldn’t you search for another bathroom, if there were no other bathroom wouldn’t you just ask the worker if you could have just a minute alone and then be completely embarrassed for a lack of control over your bladder? Never, ever, under any circumstances would anyone who has ever had a Mother, ever walk into a bathroom, ignore the woman cleaning the bathroom and have enough disrespect to whip it out and pee in front of that protesting woman. Unless, of course, you’re Phil Steck.