Springfield sex harassment controversy described as sad, complicated
Will County Board member Stephen Balich says it’s a shame that a sexual harassment hotline sounds like a good idea for the Illinois Capitol.
“I would hope that men and women representatives would conduct themselves properly all the time, but a hotline may make them think harder before acting,” Balich, a retired 30-year teamster running for another four-year term on the county board, told the Will County Gazette.
The hotline is a legislative proposal by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin’s (R-Western Springs). It comes in the wake of an ongoing sex harassment controversy in the General Assembly.
Balich, who calls himself a conservative Republican, said there is no room for harassment of any kind in government, and while a hotline could help address problems, revealing the truth is still an issue.
“It is very difficult to handle sexual harassment as far as facts and actual happenings,” Balich said. “Every human has their own tolerance level and perception. Telling a person their hair looks nice or ‘you look happy today’ goes to perception, so compliments can get you in trouble,” Balich said.
“The other side of the coin is when a person makes up lies and ruins another person’s character for whatever reason, which is really hard to defend because people assume you are guilty. When numerous people come forward with the same story, it is serious but, again, not always true.”
Balich argued that human interaction makes things even more difficult.
“The biggest problem is people are attracted to each other, get into relationships, break up and have hurt feelings,” Balich said. “The best thing a person can do is to never touch private parts of another person and compliment the appearance of only good friends.
“Also avoid being alone with any coworker. But most importantly, respect every person as you would want them to respect you and your family members.”
Balich also pointed to the alleged 27 ethics violations that have been waiting to be addressed for months if not years because the state had not filled the post of legislative inspector general, who reviews the accusations. Attorney Julie Porter was named to the position on Nov. 4 after a nearly three year vacancy.
“I don’t know how severe the problem in Springfield is, but even one case is extremely bad,” Balich said.