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Leader or loser?

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But Jennings’ enemies, of which there are many, say the councilman has become an embarrassment. An independent report comissioned by the City Councile accused him of “creating a hostile work environment” for two female former aides. The aides claim that they were sexually harassed. They say the councilman went so far as to require them to clean his home.

Questions have been raised about the motivation of the former aides. According to Jennings, one of the women was reportedly fired because she was unable to provide documentation for a medical leave. The other was reportedly fired for insubordination, he said.

However, according to published reports, the accusations were corroborated in written statements submitted to the City Council and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The councilman's reputation was already on the ropes following the publication of an ad in a local Chinese-language newspaper in which he professed his love for his girlfriend and said his wife’s family rejected him because he was black. Jennings also compared himself to Jesus and said he was being crucified by his political enemies.

In a new development last week, Jennings was accused of sexually harassing a City Council attorney. The lawyer reportedly said Jennings grabbed her, told her details about his sex life and asked her out on a date. The woman also accuses Jennings of making an anti-Semitic remark when he was told that a hearing could not be held on the Jewish holy day Yom Kippur.

Speaker Miller is coming under fire for not responding months ago to charges that Jennings was harassing women. Councilman Margarita Lopez says she told Miller that serious accusations had been raised about Jennings’s behavior. Miller says Lopez never named the council member.

Was Miller, who may run for mayor, reluctant to take on the sometimes off-the-wall councilman for fear of losing support in a minority district?

Jennings continues to deny any wrongdoing. He faces a possible censure or fine, but it is unlikely that he will face expulsion. Meanwhile, his constituents are being shortchanged. They have a right to be represented at City Hall by a leader who understands their needs and is respected by the colleagues whose support he needs to pass legislation.

At this point it appears that Jennings can serve his constituents best by stepping down. We don’t know if Jennings is guilty of sexual harassment or “creating a hostile environment” for female staffers. We do know that serious doubts have been raised about his character. And even if he is innocent, it will be difficult to accomplish anything.

For the sake of his constituents, it’s time for this councilman to fall on his sword.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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