It takes courage to be a leech?

By Bertram de Souza

“Today we agreed to put to rest a series of events that was unbecoming of the leadership of the Attorney General’s office and difficult for the two women who showed courage in turning a spotlight upon it.”

With that, Ohio’s new attorney general, Richard Cordray, threw in a very expensive towel to settle two sexual harassment claims filed against the office when Marc Dann of Liberty Township was the AG. The women who Cordray holds up as paragons of virtu ... courage ... are Cindy Stankowski and Vanessa Stout. They were put on the public payroll by Dann’s director of general services, Anthony Gutierrez.

Cordray, a Democrat who was state treasurer when he made a bid for the job of top lawyer, is right that Stankowski and Stout were courageous — but not for the reason he gave. Their courage was demonstrated when they took jobs in the largest law firm in the state — jobs for which they had no specific qualifications. That takes (expletive).

Distasteful agreement

And, it makes the agreement Cordray entered into with the two women in order for them to drop their sexual harassment complaints all the more unpalatable. Why the rush to settle? The AG has only been in office since the beginning of the month, and even though the lawyer for Stankowski and Stout had threatened to take the cases to court, a continuance would have been granted.

On Jan. 11 in this space, it was suggested that a full-blown trial was justified so taxpayers who are footing the bill could enjoy all the salacious details about what the two women did to get their jobs, and once on the payroll what went on inside and outside the office with Gutierrez, Dann and the third member of the crap pack, Leo Jennings III.

A trial would also have focused on Stankowski and Stout: Who are they? Where did they come from? What jobs have they held from the time they graduated from high school? Did they have any jobs which highlighted their real talents?

Cordray, who must run for election next year, has deprived the people of Ohio much needed comic relief.

There is another troubling aspect to the agreement the attorney general entered into: If, at some future date, facts are uncovered that prove the two women had no basis for claiming sexual harassment, there is nothing that can be done to recover the $500,000.

In response to the Jan. 11 column, a veteran journalist in Columbus with a reputation for uncovering government corruption sent the following e-mail to this writer:

“Subject: Great column”

“Maybe these women should pay us. They got good-paying jobs, with coveted health care and other benefits, even though neither one was qualified. So there are ZERO economic damages, and I think all claims to pain and suffering went down the tubes when they posed for the cover of Columbus Monthly for a feature that named them the persons of the year.

“You and I both know that thousands of people across the Valley, who are qualified, would kill for jobs like that.”

In defense of fraternities

There also was this e-mail prompted by a reference in the Jan. 11 column to college fraternities in explaining the behavior of Dann, Gutierrez and Jennings:


“I have a negative comment about your column on Sunday.

“About 50 years ago at YSU, I had the pride and privilege to serve first, as President of Phi Gamma Social Fraternity, and second, as a senior, to serve as President of the Inter-Fraternity Council (Like the United Nations of the Fraternity World).

“Thus I think it would be fair to classify me as a ‘Frat Rat College Boy.’ On my behalf, and on behalf of all my fellow Frat Rats, I object, and strongly resent, your efforts to compare us college age frat rats to those nitwit/predators who served in the office of the former Ohio Attorney General.

“Bertram, I knew those nitwit/predators, and believe me, they were no ‘frat rats’ like the ones I knew and loved.”

It was written Richard McLaughlin, a well-known Mahoning Valley lawyer and Democratic Party loyalist.

McLaughlin’s point is well taken. Thus, the formulation of crap pack, which Dann, Gutierrez and Jennings can wear as badges of dishonor.

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