Rep. Kim Fawcett, D-Fairfield, was in the room with Speaker Brendan Sharkey yesterday when Rep. Ernie Hewett, D-New London, failed to show up and talk about his infamous “snake” comments to a Connecticut Science Museum intern during a budget hearing last month. She was surprised that Hewett didn’t show, but is willing to let the issue die, since he was stripped of the more than $6,400 when his title of “deputy speaker” was stripped by Sharkey.
“The situation has brought incredible transparency and has actually shined a huge spotlight on an issue that’s probably been bubbling under the surface for years in this building. I think it’s coming out with a lot of positives for the women in the Legislature, not just the elected legislators, but the women who work here, who are staff in the building. I think there’s just been issues for years that have not been addressed or swept aside and this speaker was very bold and in my opinion he raised the bar and reset the bar on how, you know, these types of inappropriate comments will be dealt with. We’re all trying to move on. We love Ernie Hewett very much. He’s a good friend. It’s not alike disliking or being angry with the person. It’s about disliking and being angry with the behavior. I really feel like there’s a really good thing that happened through the conversations that have occurred and the attention that’s been brought to it. The benefit is only better.
She described the Hewett-less meeting with Sharkey a “productive” session. “A lot of airing of concerns and discussions about moving forward with new policies and new approaches, so that everybody feels respected in this building.” She said that new policies of reporting and discussion were put in motion. “We also talked about the fact that it goes both ways. There are some men in the building, male staff and legislators who have felt that maybe women on the other side have made inappropriate comments.”
She said the “appropriate” action was the removal of his deputy speaker title. Fawcett said she’s not interested in a possible censure vote against him.