Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Alba’s scarlet letter


Alba’s scarlet letter

City adds adultery charge against chief

Waukesha Freeman Page A6 Opinion 9/19/13 

The problem is sex, as in too many of us are obsessed with it. When we’re not obsessed with our own sex lives, we have the sex lives of public figures to fill the time.

The city of Waukesha Fire Chief Jesse Alba is, well, under fire for not being able to keep the flames of passion under control in the workplace.Capture

Alba is alleged to have committed adultery and then asking his workplace paramour to consider finding a new place of work. That’s his story. Or he is alleged to have given a coworker unwanted attention and then asked her to consider finding a new place of work. That’s her story, although she has yet to testify at the hearing.

Either way, it doesn’t look good for the new fire chief.

However, it’s interesting that the city decided to dredge up the old statute on adultery in this state. For those of you planning on having an affair in Wisconsin, it’s a felony with a fine of up to $10,000 and prison for up to 3 1/2 years.

We thought the Puritans were harsh with the stocks. Prison or wearing the Scarlet Letter? “No really, the red A on my chest means I like the Anaheim Angels.”

I’ve commented before that the biggest threat to marriage is not redefining it to include same-sex couples. We can debate whether that should be legal. However, the biggest threat to marriage is the behavior of heterosexuals.

I think by the time you reach a certain age, and unfortunately I’ve reached that age, someone in your circle of friends will have been unfaithful to their spouse.

Remember, if you don’t call the police, you become an accessory. If the cheating spouse spends the night on your couch because they were asked to leave, you’re harboring a fugitive from justice.

Obviously having this law on the books hasn’t affected behavior.

Perhaps it’s an enforcement issue. However, expecting Waukesha District Attorney Brad Schimel to prosecute adultery cases is probably a little much. We can’t even get him to enforce open records laws or prosecute vote fraud.

It’s probably a little too much to expect members of the state Legislature to repeal the law. Who wants to be the legislator who stands up and says, “I’m for legalized adultery” or, “Let’s decriminalize sexual immorality”?

I wonder how many legislators would abstain (pun intended) due to a conflict of interest. Madison is notorious for the wreckage of marriages.

The last Democratic Speaker of the Assembly, Mike Sheridan, was forced out after his affair with a lobbyist was discovered. The unfortunately named Randy Hopper lost his state Senate seat in a recall when his wife answered the door to protesters and announced Hopper was living with his mistress in Madison.

The latest scandal involves a former Walker Cabinet official whose unfortunate affair with one of his subordinates led to her being violently assaulted by her husband.

Perhaps we could get state Rep. Bill Kramer to introduce the bill to repeal the adultery statute. One of the advantages of a bachelor as Assembly majority leader is that he can’t be accused of cheating on his spouse.

As for Alba, the adultery charge came after he claimed that there was an affair and that it was consensual. He is also saying that the female employee in question is not telling the whole story.

Perhaps, perhaps not. But as Stan Riffle, the attorney hired by the city in this matter, wondered at the hearing, how does bringing up whether there was mutual affection between the two parties help Alba?

Either way, Alba told a subordinate she should find a different job because of her past relationship with him.

In many ways, it’s the old, old story, older than the adultery statute on the books. Unfortunately for Alba, we’re in a more modern era in the workplace. He is going to have a hard time explaining the scarlet letter on his résumé.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

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