Unadvertised Features

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Back in my working days I was among the front line of system changes for my area. Despite planning and investigation and using our imaginations when a system was rolled out there were always what we referred to as “unadvertised features.” Those were unexpected results when the various computer actions were carried out. These were always a surprise. As I said we spent a lot of time up front planning and investigating. No matter how much we did, there were always surprises.

Those “unadvertised features” came to mind this week when the verdict in the sexual discrimination lawsuit against former Governor-for-life Terry Branstad was announced. People thought they elected a pretty straight forward person as governor but we are now finding out there were some dark “unadvertised features.” 

There didn’t seem to be anything in Branstad version 1.0 that indicated that he was capable of doing such a thing. However, in the intervening years from Branstad version 1.0 to Branstad version 2.0 the CPU (as it were) that is the Republican Party changed dramatically. His party moved much further to the right especially in their reaction to legalized same sex marriage in Iowa.

We don’t know if that had anything to do with his attempted dismissal of Chris Godfrey which was then followed by a cut in pay. Whatever the reason was, a jury decided Monday that there was discrimination. The plaintiff, Chris Godfrey, was awarded a $1.5 million verdict.

Like so many “unadvertised features” there are often consequences for people who had absolutely nothing to do with the glitch – like you and me, for instance. From my understanding, Branstad won’t pay a nickel.That comes out of your pocket and mine. Branstad’s feelings may have been hurt, though – if that is any consolation.

Just to add a little insult to injury, according to the Des Moines Register we may also have to pony up to pay lawyers from both sides including the plaintiffs bill:

State taxpayers could wind up spending more than $6 million on Chris Godfrey’s sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit, his attorney said Wednesday.

A Polk County jury Monday awarded $1.5 million to Godfrey, a former state administrator who sued former Gov. Terry Branstad, alleging Branstad cut his salary and tried to force him to quit because Godfrey is gay.

Godfrey’s lead attorney, Roxanne Conlin, said Wednesday she intends to request reimbursement for more than $2.6 million in attorneys’ fees. That’s the approximate tab her team racked up before the six-week trial started, she said. The private defense attorneys Branstad hired have received more than $1.2 million from the state so far, and Conlin predicted the defense’s total bill will top $2 million.

State taxpayers are to bear all of those costs.

That is bad enough by itself. We must remember also that this is one in a line of discrimination suits that have been levied against the state in recent years. According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette:

If the $1.5 million award stands, it will add to the mounting total of millions the state has paid out in the recent past to settle gender, sexual harassment and sexual orientation discrimination complaints from state employees.

In February, The Gazette found the tally of recent legal settlements involving alleged sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation by state employees was over $14 million.

In one of the costliest, the University of Iowa paid $6.5 million to former athletic administrator Jane Meyer and field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum to settle their claims of gender and sexual orientation discrimination.

A reminder here that the bad actors in these cases are not paying the costs. You and I are.

The one that still makes me mad is the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus cost to you and I of $1.7 million for harassment of their employee Kirsten Anderson. 

The Gazette has a short summary of these suits here.  

One theme I see throughout this string of cases is that one party seems to be involved in nearly every one. Apparently an “unadvertised feature” of voting for Republicans.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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