Politics, like many professions, has for too long been an old boys club, with bad behavior tolerated and misdeeds covered up.
Nowhere has this been more evident than in Albany, New York, where for decades mistresses, sexual harassment and all-around piggish behavior have been tolerated.
Now, we may have reached a tipping point, where the whole male-dominated culture could come crashing down like a house of cards.
Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez epitomizes the worst of political power; he rewarded sycophantic followers and punished his enemies. This Democratic boss allegedly for many years treated female employees as sex objects and his alleged bad behavior was tolerated by those around him because of his unchallenged power.
His boss, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, has admitted to using taxpayer dollars as hush money to make two women's troublesome charges against Lopez go away.
Another Silver ally, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, was complicit in this bad judgment because his office issued the six-figure check to sweep the harassment charges under the rug.
At Penn State, a culture of looking the other way and secrecy led to the downfall of a football legend and his powerhouse college program.
In Albany, will the same "if you see something, don't say anything" culture lead to the downfall of Democratic power brokers like Shelly Silver?
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has vowed to drain the swamp in State government, faces an inflection point. Does he adopt a "zero tolerance policy" for corrupt behavior or does he allow the "boys will be boys" culture of Albany to go on and assure that another generation of young women will be subject to the abuses of powerful men like Vito Lopez?
Cuomo, like me, is the father of teenage girls. Why doesn't he send a message to them and their generation that a new day is dawning in New York state government? Where women can be staffers and top lieutenants who can work side by side with men without fear of sexual harrasment.
Better yet, we need the right kind of women to become the leaders in the room -- those who will not tolerate their male peers' piggish behavior.
As Carolyn Maloney once famously said: "Where are the women?" But Maloney herself largely gave Silver a pass and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn insulted our intelligence when she said that Silver had made "appropriate reforms going forward."
It is so disappointing to see female elected officials who could make a difference, go along rather than protect women in the workplace.
State government in Albany may one day finally become a place New Yorkers can feel proud of.
But as long as a male-dominated culture is allowed to get away with bad behavior, we will see men like Vito Lopez survive and potentially menace young women who want to enter government to make a difference.
It is high time that women join the ranks of power in Albany and are empowered to prevent alleged monsters like Vito Lopez.
Let's start drafting more female candidates for the Assembly and Senate for 2014 who will stand up for their sisters, as well as more male candidates who view this issue through the prism of their daughters' careers rather than their own.
Tom Allon is the Liberal-backed candidate for Mayor of New York City in 2013.
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