How Many Chances Should a Racist Get?
In the view of a lot of people, one would be the limit. Mayor Susan Menard appears to be more forgiving.
The civil lawsuit filed in 2000 by Bennie Koffa outlines the treatment to which he was subjected by certain employees of the Woonsocket Highway Department including, notably, Robert Harnois. It came to light last week that Mr. Harnois, now Superintendent of that department, is the subject of a second, similar complaint by certain current highway department employees. The behavior described in the 2000 lawsuit, directed solely at Mr. Koffa as the only black person in the department, was disgusting and brutish.
Mayor Menard, who last year promoted Mr. Harnois to Superintendent of the Woonsocket Highway Department, has stated that she did not and does not believe the allegations in Mr. Koffa’s lawsuit. The frequency, duration and number of witnesses – daily/over a year/many – of the verbal abuse considerably detracts from the credibility of her assertion.
Or, if we were to take her at her word, we would need to ask a couple of questions. In her capacity as mayor, how many other meritless lawsuits did she settle for six figures on behalf of the taxpayers of Woonsocket (and of the state)? How often in her capacity as mayor has she settled lawsuits sight unseen, without reviewing the substance of the case?
It is inexplicable that the mayor would promote a person who had been the subject not only of such accusations but of a taxpayer funded settlement involving such accusations. In doing so, she has exposed the city to a considerable financial liability. More importantly, she has condoned such rancid behavior.