Skip to comments.Burqa Mentality in the Blue Ridge
Posted on 05/08/2010 5:20:43 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob
I read, and I write for, the Highlands Newspaper, a weekly paper with a modest circulation. The Editor, also my editor, is Kim Lewicki. She ran an article in last weeks issue that was excellently written and edited, and worthy of sharing with my national audience.
The week before, Erika Olvera, a former Police Officer in this town, filed an EEOC Complaint against the Town of Highlands. Our experience with Officer Olvera was limited, but we found her to be diligent and capable. She worked for the Town for two years. She is a naturalized American from Mexico, who has lived in this area for about 20 years.
About six months after she was employed by the Police Department, a nasty rumor circulated that she had had an affair with Police Chief Bill Harrell. (In a small town, everyone hears everything.) I said at the time the rumor may have nothing to do with her, but may be an effort by one of the other officers to undermine the Chief. Suffice to say, Bill Harrell is married.
The rumor got worse. A year later, it claimed that she had gotten pregnant and had an abortion, paid for by Harrell. In January, 2010, she was called into Town Manager Jim Fatland and Town Attorney Bill Coward. She was questioned about the rumor, and denied all matters. Eleven days later and at the request of the Town Manager, she took and passed a polygraph exam on the same questions.
There is no mention of any polygraphs or questioning of Chief Harrell, or any of the officers who were spreading these rumors. There is more to the article, and the complaint, but stop there and ask yourself a few questions. Why was Officer Olvera the only person called in for questioning? Why was no one else asked (demanded, really, when keeping your job is on the line) to take a polygraph exam?
I was in a lunch shop several months ago. One of the other officers was there and we started a conversation. Out of the blue he told me the nasty rumor. (I know of some of his prior conduct, and think he should be fired like a shot for an entirely different situation he was involved in. My point is, if I knew he was one of the rumor mongers, the Town Manager and Town Attorney should have known, and acted on that knowledge.
The last item was that Officer Olvera drove on of the other officers home during a rain storm at the end of their shifts. Five inches of rain or a foot of snow in one day is not unusual, here. And, as she said, I have a four-wheel drive vehicle. He did not. The Town Manager then decided that she should never ride in a patrol car with any male officer. Since all of the other officers are male, that made her effectively unable to respond to serious situations in which two officers are required.
The thinking behind that prohibition is, of course, right out of the pages of fundamentalist Islam. It is, all men are dogs, and the mere presence of a woman in close proximity will drive them to think wild thoughts and do nasty things. He might as well have required her to wear a burqa on duty. Oh, the woman in the bag is our new policewoman.
The Town of Highlands is, in my judgment, going to lose big in this case. It deserved it. It earned it. But if it does not identify and fire all of the male officers, from Chief Harrell on down, who permitted, encouraged, and contributed to this outcome, it is doubly foolish.
If you pay a few hundred thousands of dollars to learn something, it is beyond stupid not to apply the knowledge you have gained. As for Officer Olvera, I hope she finds a new job where the Department appreciates a capable officer who is diligent, smart, and bilingual.
John / Billybob
Sounds like an open and shut case of sexual harassment.
Hostile environment and all that.
The first question that popped into my mind was “Who is the town manager to be making these arbitrary decisions?”
WOW who knew in this day and age they would go that far with harassment?
I totally agree.
I find it odd that someone would be asked to take a polygraph over rumors by town officials.
Really really stupid behavior. Simply no excuse for it.
the link gave me “reported attack site”.
These small town cops have an active fantasy life about (what are for them) exotic n sexy Latinas. My own remote viewing (lol) indicates Erika is a pretty fair Latina and not nearly as hot as what you find in the big city
Just having such an anglo-Nordic first name indicates a desire to be nice and to integrate. But to no avail where you are Roanoke or whatever. Her being single also adds to the sexual tension. A lovely young white female dispatcher might have gotten in the same trouble but she would not be eligible for a racial discrimination payout.
You mention running into one of the officers at a lunch shop who then told you about the nasty rumor. You labeled him a rumor monger. Yet it’s apparent from your comments you’d already heard the rumors from other people. Wouldn’t these people be considered rumor mongers, as well?
That is the odd part. I would think that the Chief would be the one placed under the microscope and in his position I would demand it. After all, they are essentially accusing him of corruption at best and rape at worse.
I think you meant to address the congressman.
Your standing in judgment of your adopted hometown, and by some odd leap of stereotyping, the entire Blue Ridge, will do absolutely nothing for your thus-far stunted political ambitions, John.
This article will get around in Highlands. And Cashiers, and Sylva. You’ll be known as the carpetbagger who thinks mountain people are just like Muslims.
Not very smart. Question the treatment of Ms. Olvera all you want; it sounds warranted. Question the behavior of her peers and superiors on the police force. That sounds warranted, too. But that headline? It’s going to come back to bite you.
Welcome to Highlands, NC, gossip center of America. Rumors here have been known to destroy good people. Any hearsay should be taken with a grain of salt. Don’t get involved in their politics either, it’s worse than Washington.
How do I know? Lived here for over 30 years. Used to be involved with their politics until I realized it could be detrimental to my family’s health and well-being.
BTW, John, always enjoy reading your column. You have a knack for ‘hitting the nail on the head’.
You pretty well nailed it. Good piece.
They just don’t want a female officer.
Heck, the women I know would and have watched my back better than most men I know.
Interesting read of one side of the story.
“Welcome to Highlands, NC, gossip center of America.”
...well, at least you all are rich down there in Highlands...we’re broke up here in West Jefferson, NC and our town manager just got drunk, wrecked his city vehicle and fled the scene carrying a concealed weapon.