IN most reasonable workplaces, state Sen. Pam Roach’s volatile history of verbally abusing subordinate staff would have ended — long ago — with a pink slip.
She’s been warned or reprimanded for it in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2008 and 2010, resulting in her being banned from her own Republican caucus and prevented from even talking with some staff. Her most recent episode cost taxpayers at least $140,000 to investigate and settle a hostile-workplace claim by a senior staff attorney.
This week, the Auburn Republican was given yet another chance because of political expedience. The Senate majority coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats has a one-vote margin. It badly needs Roach’s vote to advance critical reforms, including in education, that likely would not gain traction in a Democrat-controlled Senate. The coalition lifted all sanctions and gave her a committee to chair.
Roach has represented the 31st Legislative District since 1990, and at times has been an effective advocate. But she is on a very short tether.
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Now, new complaints of verbal abuse have emerged, and a draft of an investigative report on Roach’s behavior was leaked to The Associated Press.
This is an early test of the majority coalition.
Pursuing a leak investigation, as the coalition has suggested, is a distraction. A finished version of the investigative report should be publicly released. The Senate’s professional staff deserve the same protection from unwarranted abuse as any workers, public or private.
Roach has been given a sixth chance to show she can follow a clearly defined policy banning workplace harassment. Her history does not bolster confidence. She is up for re-election in 2014.