Cerabino: It’s time to collar sexual misconduct in the Florida Senate

I’ve been pricing dog obedience collars.

I don’t have a dog, but I’m thinking they may be useful in handling the Florida Senate, which is convulsing in sexcapades and Harvey Weinstein-triggered retribution.

Extreme measures may be called for.

After all, two women in the Florida Senate, Sen. Lizbeth Benequisto, R-Fort Myers, and Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation — both sexual assault survivors from their youth — wrote an open letter to the employees who work with Florida legislators, urging them to report sexual misconduct they’ve experienced.

“Many times, a known or perceived imbalance of power can be exploited. This is why it’s so difficult for many to speak up … We are here to say that you are not to blame,” the women wrote.

“If you have been hurt or exploited, let your voice be heard. Come forward. Make a report and get the help you deserve to heal and to be protected. It is crucial that you find your strength and use your voice …

“We are your allies because sadly we can both say #MeToo,” Benequisto and Book wrote. “We understand what it means to be victimized, demoralized, and silenced in the face of sexual assault. We stand with you because we all deserve to feel safe and to be safe. Be strong. Be brave.”

Their call for speaking up was in stark contrast to the new policy on sexual misconduct that Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, issued Friday. It limited the number of people that Senate employees could go when filing sexual harassment complaints, saying that these complaints were to be made to their supervisors, the Senate chief of staff or himself, the Senate President.

Negron’s directive came on the same day that the incoming Senate Minority Leader, Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, resigned due to public disclosure of a sloppy affair he had with a lobbyist — an affair that required the assistance of other male senators to retrieve Clemens’ laptop from the woman.

By Monday, faced with the strong statement by two women senators, Negron was already talking about revisiting his new policy and assuring employees that they could report sexual misconduct to anybody.

Yes, sexual misconduct season seems to be in full bloom in the Florida Senate. In other news, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who is the senate budget chairman and hopes to be Florida’s next governor, has been tailed by a private investigator for two years, Politico reported.

The news site says the private investigator took photos of Latvala kissing a female lobbyist on the lips in a restaurant parking lot after dinner, something Latvala said was neither inappropriate nor romantic.

“Some people kiss on the lips,” he told Politico. “Different people have different habits.”

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was called to investigate the discovery by another state senator of a hidden camera in the sixth-floor hallway of a condominium that serves as a popular home for state lawmakers during the spring sessions.

At this point, dog obedience collars seem like a less intrusive and more cost-effective solution to male senator behavior modification.

I’ve been doing some shopping. The Petrainer 998DRB Remote Controlled Dog Training Collar System would probably work just fine.

It claims it can make dogs stop digging, so it might work fine on the pawing done by the horndogs in Tallahassee.

It has a wireless remote that works up to 900 feet and an array of attention getters from vibrations, perfect for freshman legislators, to electric shocks, what may be necessary for those nearing term limits.

Fastened around the neck with a black nylon strap, the obedience collar is something that could fit inside a man’s shirt collar, yet remain reassuringly visible to the woman who is holding the remote control while meeting one on one in an office, restaurant or parked car.

There are 26 male members of the Florida Senate, and with each unit priced at $28, that beats hiring private investigators for round-the-clock surveillance.

And with the Petrainer 998DRB, taxpayers will know that their male lawmakers will get the message that using their position to inappropriately exploit women is going to end up being one big pain in the neck.

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