Jonathan Allen, recently fired from his post as Lauderdale Lakes City Manager, helped create a sexist firestorm in Austin, Texas city government. On April 15, 2015, the Lauderdale Lakes city commission voted to fire Allen over differing visions for the Broward city. Less than a month earlier, Allen gave a training presentation to City of Austin employees. Dubbed “The Changing Dynamics in Governance; Women Leading in Local Government,” the seminar sought to train employees how to deal with newly elected female leaders.
The local ABC News television station reported that the Asst. City Manager of Austin was placed on leave after a video of the March 27, 2015 event was made public. The KVUE reported, “Jonathan Allen, one of the speakers hired to come in from Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, where he worked as a city manager, spoke about his experience transitioning from working with a mostly male commission, his city’s version of a council, to an all-female commission. Some of his comments raised concern from the community after a story about the session surfaced in a blog article by the Austin American-Statesman.” The Texas newspaper reported Allen claimed women leaders, “ask a lot of questions and don’t want to deal with numbers.”
“Where normally I would have presented the financial argument, my elected officials said, ‘Mr. Manager, I don’t want to hear about the financial argument, I want to hear about how this impacts the overall community,'” Allen said.
KVUE reported Fort Lauderdale business consultant Miya Burt Stewart told city staffers they “should acknowledge gender differences and made sweeping generalizations about the differences in men and women who are in leadership roles while reading an expert from the [Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus] book.”
REDBROWARD reviewed the one hour presentation Allen and Miya Burt Stewart gave to nearly 75 Austin employees.
Mr. Allen, a member of a prominent Broward Democrat family, gives a shockingly condescending performance. He spews ideas which went out of style in the 1950s. The Washington Post wrote Allen urged staffers to speak differently to women. “Don’t do that, he said, and .you will be making a serious error in your professional development, because they don’t process things in the same way.'”
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Allen said he “never intended to diminish or minimize the knowledge, skills, and contributions of women in the field of local government.”
Shockingly, Miya Burt Stewart serves on the Broward County Human Rights Board. In 2006, Burt Stewart was accused of using her appointment to the South Florida Water Management District to help her business. The Sun-Sentinel reported, “An e-mail about her Broward County-based consulting firm also listed her water district cell phone as one of her contact numbers. According to company literature, the firm can help clients work with ‘elected and regulatory officials’ who ‘make decisions that could jeopardize a company’s competitiveness.’ It said the company can help clients achieve ‘bottom-line and business objective without the hang-ups of policy decisions being made in Washington D.C. or the state capital.'”
Great to know Broward is spreading itself all over the United States.