EDITORIAL: Ken Dunkin, sexual harassment and proportionate justice

SHARE EDITORIAL: Ken Dunkin, sexual harassment and proportionate justice
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Former state Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Ken Dunkin has no business serving on the board of the agency that cleans sewage water in the Chicago area, but not because of some crude and sexist thing he probably said five years ago.

Or have we lost all sense of proportion?

EDITORIAL

Let’s review the facts:

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday called on Dunkin to resign from the board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District — a job to which Rauner appointed Duncan just last month.

Rauner said Dunkin should resign because a woman has come forward and made an allegation of sexual harassment against him. Specifically, the long-time state employee alleged on Wednesday that Dunkin in 2013, when he was a Democratic state representative, approached her and another woman and said, “I want to take both of you home and see which one will be the naughtiest.”

That’s obnoxious. It’s inexcusable. And we are strongly in the #MeToo camp that this kind of nonsense can’t be tolerated. Dunkin insists he never made the remark, but given what we know about the sorry culture of harassment in Illinois state government, we’re inclined to believe his accuser.

That’s Springfield for you, sad to say, and the political leaders who have been there longest, beginning with House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, have to answer for it.

But what, in Dunkin’s case, should be the consequences? Should he be booted off the board of the Water Reclamation District, a job that pays $70,000 a year, for a single alleged comment made five years ago? Without even a hearing?

Where is our sense of proportionate justice?

Truth is, Dunkin never should have been appointed to the board because he’s not well qualified. Rauner — the guy who claims to be appalled by old-school patronage politics — gave Dunkin the job as a reward for siding with the governor on key votes in the Legislature.

Dunkin says he’s not about to resign, and the governor can’t force him to. But Dunkin is a short-timer on the MWRD board anyway. The unexpired term term to which Rauner appointed Dunkin ends with the Nov. 6 general election.

Good.

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.

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