When Assembly lawmakers met in November to discuss ways of improving their policies for preventing and responding to sexual harassment, Democratic Assemblyman Ken Cooley had an idea: Ban cellphones from the two-hour harassment training lawmakers must attend.
It seemed a trivial suggestion for addressing such a serious problem. But interviews and documents obtained by The Associated Press reveal there’s truth in what his comment hinted at — many lawmakers aren’t deeply engaged with the trainings aimed at preventing the type of inappropriate behavior that forced two lawmakers to resign in the last month.
“Some people do take it seriously — and some people are on their phones, some people are cracking jokes,” said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens and chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus. “I would say the large majority of people are not as attentive.”
Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, offered a more blunt assessment, saying they can feel like a lecture for fourth-graders.
“I think people go in there hoping to learn something new, they are interested initially but once you start going through the training I think it’s lacking in material that holds people’s interest,” she said.