I couldn’t help but notice that this site had a lot of hits to the story about Tony Tooke. Of course, a sex scandal draws a lot of interest :). Some have asked whether it’s an appropriate topic for this blog.. and here is why I think it is. Of course, it’s easy not to read these posts if you prefer, you should be able to tell by the title of the post.
A while back Matthew asked “how do you know things?”- this is a good example of trying to figure that out. First of all: what media carried it? Could they have a political or policy reason? Or even a salacious therefore increased number of clicks reason? (This blog does not have advertising) Who talked about it to the media, what were their motives? Of course, there’s “what really happened and how do we know?” and finally and perhaps most important “what meaning do the stories associate with those facts and how clear are they about the links between facts and interpretation?” We could also investigate “what science has to say about this” in terms of evolutionary biology and older/younger human relationships.
I think that this story would also be interesting to current employees. What are the rules and who follows them or not? If we have a rule about cell phone use while driving (or chock blocks or ….) (I don’t know if this is still a rule), and the “leader” does not follow it- that’s not a good thing because it’s not a good example for others. It could even confuse employees as to whether there was a rule or not. But who is a leader? Everyone with supervisory responsibility, or just line officers, or all of you? My original point in the first post is that based on the information, Tony wasn’t following the rules about “in the chain of command.” Does everyone know these rules? Do only some people get reprimanded for not following them at your unit?
What I like about this E&E story compared to the previous Daily Caller story is that it gets to what I think is the crux of the issue.
“The retiree complained to Isakson’s office that Tooke shouldn’t be in charge of an agency that’s trying to come to terms with a history of sexual harassment — a part of the agency’s past he tried to confront shortly after taking command earlier this year.”
I respectfully disagree with the retiree making that link between consensual breaking of agency rules and being unable to lead a harassment effort. There is a very serious problem with sexual harassment (more on that later) that different administrations have struggled with, including the Clinton administration (’nuff said). I do like the ideas of retirees taking an active role, but once the facts are out, I feel that this should be an open discussion.
Here’s the link to the E&E News (kudos to them for clear and fair reporting). Unfortunately there is a firewall (but if they are paid well and do good work, can I really complain?). They also mention the potential political angle by talking to a forest policy person.
Here’s a snippet.
A Forest Service spokeswoman today referred E&E News to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s office, which didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. The agency told The Daily Caller, “Tony Tooke has a clean personnel record and there is nothing in his employment record reflecting complaints against him of this nature.”
The Daily Caller reported that a USDA lawyer responded to Isakson that the issue had been “properly addressed” at the time of the relationship.
According to the article, the retired employee said that Tooke advocated for the woman with whom he was involved to receive a promotion to a newly created position at the Forest Service, and that he continued to contact her after their relationship ended, and after he’d been directed by a supervisor not to do so.
Tooke moved to the agency’s headquarters and eventually became regional forester for the Southern Region, before taking the chief’s job in Washington.
A lobbyist for a forest policy group that has supported Tooke lamented that the issue could distract from important policies the new chief is trying to pursue, and questioned the motivations of the person who made the complaint.