Recent events in social justice demonstrate that the powerful shall eventually be held to task. Ghislaine Maxwell, Harvey Weinstein, even Ellen DeGeneres’ show what we discover when we listen to victims.
The mayor of Encinitas, Catherine Blakespear, should be held to the same standards of scrutinization.
A lawsuit filed against City of Encinitas alleges that Fire Marshal Anita Pupping was dismissed in September 2019 because she stood by concerns that “Streetscape” — the $50 million debt-driven plan to turn Highway 101 through Leucadia into a pedestrian zone — threatens public safety to the community that surrounds it.
Not wanting this opinion shared with state investigators, the City removed Ms. Pupping from her position of authority.
According to the lawsuit documents, Anita Pupping was a 33-year, decorated veteran of EFD She also happens to be a woman of color. And now, Ms. Pupping appears to be out of a job and full pension, because she would not fall in line to endorse Mayor Blakespear’s pet project.
Other details allege an environment of toxic masculinity at EFD. Women were held to different standards than male counterparts. Sexist language was common. When Ms. Pupping went to HR with her concerns, her male superiors retaliated.
A “progressive thought leader” like Mayor Blakespear should credit Ms. Pupping as proof that even the highest ranks of our city are accessible to women and minorities. Instead, Mayor Blakespear fails in her primary duty—to protect the people and workers of Encinitas—and aligns with the #MeToo offenders.
Indeed, details of this lawsuit uncover many disturbing questions:
• Ms Pupping filed a harassment complaint in July 2019, and faced increasing persecution until she was fired in September 2019. Requests to be reinstated in October and November were both denied.
Mayor Blakespear must have been aware. Why did she not take up Anita’s cause? A mayor who has herself faced multiple threats of sexual violence should offer aid to a colleague facing similar conditions.
• Should city staff worry they might fall victim to politics near the end of their career? How does this affect the integrity of their work, or their willingness to share opinions?
More importantly, think of the impact on community: it sends a message to potential talent to go elsewhere, because integrity and safety take a back seat to our mayor’s personal interest.
• Examples: City Manager Karen Brust unexpectedly resigned in April 2020 under rumors of internal conflict.
City Planner Brenda Wisneski left late last year for Dana Point. Why are so many high-ranking women leaving city staff?
• Finally, what does it say about the value our leaders place on people of color? It is one thing to pose for a photo opp at a protest; it is quite another to put inclusion into professional practice.
30 years ago, American women raised a rally against workplace harassment: “Anita, we believe you!” It is sad that we still see discrimination in a city led by a rising Democrat woman.
Pray we have evolved enough this time to take action.