published Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Cook: Chattanooga administrator Paul Page should resign or be fired

Paul Page, our city's director of general services, should resign immediately.

Or be fired.

As should any administrator within city government who knew of Page's threatening behavior toward female colleagues and did nothing about it.

Why? Because women are not objects. Because Page works in an institution devoted to democracy, where all people are supposedly represented, not just aggressive men.

Because sexual harassment is a crime.

"For the last two years, I have been regularly treated to inappropriate sexual behavior, requests and come-ons from one of the city's top supervisors, Paul Page," wrote a woman (let's call her Zoe) in a 2008 letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"Page is considered second in command to the mayor, and is also considered Mayor Ron Littlefield's closest advisor and friend," she wrote.

In 2008, Zoe was one of at least two women who filed complaints at the federal and local levels alleging harassment by Page. For safety reasons, she has requested anonymity until the matter is settled.

According to her testimony to the EEOC, Page has created a culture of intimidation, foulness and aggression.

"I have told him I don't do the kind of 'special training' he has asked for," Zoe wrote the EEOC. "He has explained I should consider this special training seriously, since he thinks I 'owe' him for turning him on and he cares about my career trajectory, and needs willing women.

"He said he and the mayor take care of women who take care of them."

An independent investigation ordered by the city in 2008 discovered that Page had joked about breasts, women's clothing and sexual acts.

After the independent investigation verified many of the complaints against him, Page, who earns nearly $100,000 a year, was ordered to attend sexual harassment training and told if anything happened again, he would lose his job.

People with unpaid parking tickets are given stronger punishments.

Yet in 2009, Kathryn Ann Hise, a local small-business owner, filed a lawsuit -- still pending

-- against Page, charging assault, battery, fraud and causing emotional distress.

So how does the city respond to this list of complaints against one of its top administrators? It comes down harshly, swiftly, without looking back.

  • photo
    Paul Page, Chattanooga's director of general services

Just not against Page.

It punishes the victim.

In 2008, Zoe was fired.

Shortly thereafter -- she believes because the city learned there was a federal investigation -- Zoe was rehired, but relocated to a different building in a different part of town.

Even now, as the EEOC has verified Zoe's claims -- "the Charging Party and a class of individuals were sexually harassed and retaliated against," its report reads -- the city continues to stand by its man.

"The Charging Party could have approached any supervisor, manager or elected official to file a complaint or she would have been counseled and directed how to appropriately file with her complaint," Assistant City Attorney Ken Fritz recently wrote in a letter rebutting the EEOC's findings.

What is this, elementary school? Zoe's in trouble because she didn't follow directions? After years of complaints alleged -- and now proven -- against Page, the city's response is to blame the victim, and further vilify her by claiming she did not follow procedure?

First, it's outrageously sexist. Second, Zoe says, it's completely untrue.

"The employees and supervisors feel their hands are tied, since we've all complained up the chain of command to no avail and the harassment has continued each time," she wrote in her EEOC letter in 2008. "We get the idea we need to stop complaining about something that the top executives aren't interested in hearing about."

I have two questions for Mayor Littlefield.

How long have you known about the behavior of Page, who reports directly to you?

Why do you allow a man with multiple harassment charges to continue to work for you?

David Cook can be reached at davidcook@blumail.org

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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sandyonsignal said...

Agree. This is an affront to all women when the Littlefield administration choses to keep a known sexual harasser on payroll and get rid of the victims instead. Hard to believe this is tolerated by a government agency. It is illegal and repugnant.

Page should have been gone a long, long time ago.

September 22, 2011 at 6:34 a.m.
joetheplumber said...

I don't believe the entire story has been released. Paul Page is a good man with a bulls eye posted on his back, an easy target. These claims and charges normally result in a huge paycheck just to make them go away, a lawers dream. I am glad, for once, that the City is not being held hostage by an aledged victim.

I do not support sexual harassment nor do I support extortion. I firmly believe that the later of the two is what this is all about.

September 22, 2011 at 7:55 a.m.
jesse said...

the citys solution to this is to have all city employees attend a 3 hr. "meeting" on proper behavior in the work place!

they have ONE total JERK that wants to grab every female on the planet by the a$$, so every body else has to go to a "MEETING!

BTW:this story was on PAGE 1 of the metro section this morning and is now in the "OLDER ARTICLES" section of the online edition!! why is that?

September 22, 2011 at 1:14 p.m.
joetheplumber said...

hey paying attention! Have you EVER owned rental property? Have you ever dealt with anyone that owes you money that didn't try to retaliate when you collected -No? - that is what I thought. Why did she wait till after she was locked out to start complaining? I am telling you that this is only one side of the story. Why is there so much money involved?

I have had claims of everything under the sun when I've had to get firm with a tenant. Lies about what I said, what I did, what I was holding, the way I talked to them, it goes on and on.

I am not related to Paul but yes I have known him of several years. He screwed up once and he confessed and has gone on with his life a very changed man. But since he confessed one time, that makes him an easy target every time someone wants to gig him. That is BS and deep down in your heart you know it.

There are NO grounds for him to be fired and no reason for him to resign. And yes, I stand by my statement that he is a good man.

Take away the dollars and these women go away, I promise you.

September 22, 2011 at 7:15 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Anyone else think that Paul Page looks like Milton from "Office Space?"

"I believe you have my stapler."

September 22, 2011 at 11:30 p.m.
joetheplumber said...

Payingattention - Read tonight’s story - more than 6 (SIX) are also disputing the claims. You on the other hand want it to be true simply because you seem to have an axe to grind. This man has done nothing to you but you insist that he is guilty - Every claim that has been made against him has been done so by people that have been fired, evicted or demoted by him. Every single person has had some sort of beef with him before they filed harassment charges.

I don't care if they form a line around the block, that doesn’t automatically make him guilty. Sexual Harassment and Race Issues are almost impossible to prove that you are innocent. You, on the other hand, seem to have some insight that you don’t seem to want to share with us…

You stated earlier that six claims make you guilty. Thank goodness you have figured out the correct number, now we don't need courtrooms, judges, juries or trials - just score keepers. You and the rest of your buddies that wasted our money on your recall efforts all think alike - you claim to pay attention but you haven't a clue of what you are saying.

I respectfully disagree that it is not “commonly known” however I do agree that one is too many. That brings me back to my point that once accused, you are an easy target from that point on.

Again, this is about money and getting even. Not guilt, truth or justice. Take away the money and the claims go with it.

Pay “closer” attention and keep your words sweet enough to eat later.

September 23, 2011 at 12:29 a.m.
joetheplumber said...

Payingattention - give us one of your known facts, just one or shut your pie hole. Not one of your scary lies, one proven fact.

September 23, 2011 at 9:18 p.m.
joetheplumber said...

Payingattention - Thanks for the admission that you are part of the smear web site of little chicago watch. The findings are not facts and all are currently under investigation and there is NO current outcome. That is what this is all about, you want someone fired because of an allegation made against them. Facts are topics that have been proven. Just because you hear something that you want to be true doesn’t make it a fact. Even when you distort the truth it doesn’t become a fact.

Your lynch mob continues to blast the media with negative comments about anyone that does not agree with you and the Tea Party. You, or you watch group, have yet to contribute one single idea or suggestion that is positive. You live and thrive in turmoil. You create little piles of stink and then jump in and start stirring screaming “Look At Me, Look At Me”.

Little Chicago is a great name for your Mob. It is as corrupt as any gangster mob that ever ruled the streets of Chicago. The closest thing you come to honesty is in the word dishonest.

Since you seem to believe everything you read on the internet, maybe the following link will assist you: http://eeoc-corruption.blogspot.com/ These are "Your Boys" so see how you can put a spin on this one.

You have yet to produce the one fact I challenged you to produce. So shut your pie hole until you can.

September 24, 2011 at 3:04 a.m.
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