Dear David Gutierrez:
I respectfully request again that, for the benefit of Doña Ana County, you resign and get treatment.
As County Treasurer you asked a woman working for you to have sex with you for money. You apparently knew, or should have known from prior incidents, that she wasn't interested in sex with you. The County Commission and the County Democratic Party each invited you to explain, then censured you. You also refused to discuss the incident with me.
Your conduct was not manly or strong. Any grown man would know that you were not acting in a way that would entice a reluctant woman into bed with you. So sex wasn't your intention.
Your conduct was weak and sad. Like most who sexually harass others they in their power, you didn't expect the victim to agree to some delightful dalliance. Requesting it would make you feel a bit more powerful, rather than an insecure fellow trying to shore up your sagging self-confidence. Causing her some distress would be fun, like spraying water on a cat, and you figured she'd be too frightened to complain.
You should resign not merely because your conduct is malfeasance for which we could recall you. (You've arrogantly refused to attend required sexual harassment classes. Worse, you've fired Rene Barba. Barba, your deputy, had properly passed on to a higher authority the lady's complaint about you. Firing him for that would be wrong – and could spawn another lawsuit. His refusal to agree to hire you as deputy if he is elected Treasurer speaks well of him. With your record, HR probably couldn't approve such a hire anyway. Particularly after you spurned the required classes that might have helped you.
You should resign not merely because your conduct embarrasses you and the county. You should resign not only because people will inevitably associate you with the Democratic Party, which you supposedly support but which had nothing to do with your conduct and even tossed you off its county central committee.
You should resign not merely because of the lawsuit (on which we'll pay the insurance deductible); and the probability that your infantile inability to control yourself means we're vulnerable to further lawsuits the longer you stay in office.
You should resign not merely because staying in office taking our money will delay your recognition of your need for treatment. (“Treatment?” you ask scornfully. “But I'm a successful politician and just a healthy, lustful male besides!” But the fact is that based on what you've admittedly done, and assuming the truth of just a fraction of what others have reported about your conduct in office, you are a pathetic fellow. Sorry to say it; but your request to Mr. Barba shows you just don't get it.)
You should resign to get your own life in order. You can't be comfortable being the butt of public ridicule. Or of rude curiosity about what you might have done while watching video (taken from above) of your cashiers and their cash-drawers. Out of office, you could concentrate on the self-examination we all need to do at times, and maybe put your life on a more solid foundation.
I hope we've progressed far beyond the time when anyone with power could do as he liked: Anglos exploiting Hispanics, whites enslaving blacks, men abusing women, employers nearly enslaving employees. The less powerful party now have certain rights to be free from personal humiliation, insults, or sexual exploitation. Your conduct was plain wrong, Sir.
You should resign as a way of casting your vote for a better world.
[The above column appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News this morning, Sunday, 31 January, 2016, and will also appear on the KRWG-TV website later this morning at News>Local Viewpoints.]
[Reading what I've written, I realize it's too unkind to Mr. Gutierrez. At the same time, the closer I look into this, the clearer it is that he just doesn't get it. He doesn't understand why bullying employees should be such a big deal, when he's good at getting people to vote for him. He not only refuses to resign (which we knew) but is scheming to extend his county paychecks by getting the next Treasurer to employ him. Until, probably, he himself could run again. That justifies speaking bluntly to him. So does the response I got talking about some of this: many women approached me later to thank me. As one pointed out, whenever you don't stand up against this sort of thing, you're helping perpetuate it -- in particular, the attitude that this kind of misconduct is just boys being boys, and somehow acceptable. As another said yesterday at the Farmers' Market, "As a woman, it just hurts that he's still there." Well, as a man it hurts that he's still there, that we're still paying him.]
[My earlier column about Mr. Gutierrez appeared in September 2014. I did then confer with authorities, and it appears that the way New Mexico's solicitation of prostitution statute is written, it would be difficult or impossible to convict Gutierrez on the criminal charge. Recalling him required filing a court action, then gathering a great number of signatures.
I regret that we haven't recalled him. I blame myself in part. I did push some people to join in taking action. The county Democratic Party tossed him off its Central Committee and authorized starting the recall process, but then . . . got too busy, I guess. Nor did other groups step up. I should have started the necessary court action myself. Fortunately he's term-limited. He's gone December 31. He's too costly: Ironically, we may see a contest for Treasurer in which both candidates are former Chief Deputies whom Gutierrez mistreated and then forced to resign. One sued and won a settlement. The other may. The sexual harassment victim's suit settled this month for $68,000. This clown is getting expensive. Anyone running for County Treasurer this year who hasn't been fired by him should pretty much have to sign in blood that he or she won't appoint Gutierrez as Deputy.]