The supposedly racy e-mail that led to the 1996 firing of thenKing County ombudsman David Krull was entitled "Instruction and Advice for the Young Bride," and included the passage: "Most men are rather perverted and if given half a chance would engage in quite a variety of the most revolting practices." Krull's female assistant was offended, as were the county council members who eventually booted him. That touched off a debate over political correctness and launched a lawsuit by Krull. In a wild turnaround, county executive Ron Sims—among those who ousted Krull—approved a $450,000 wrongful-termination payment to Krull earlier this year. Conceding nothing, Sims called it a business decision so his government could just "go forward." Here's some of where "forward" took it:
"Top Ten Things That Sound Dirty at the Office, but Aren't," such as: "I need to whip it out by 5," and "Just stick it in my box."
That was among the King County staff e-mail sent just days before Sims announced his "go-forward" settlement. It was followed in the next days and months by such messages as:
*"President Clinton's Deposition as reported by Dr. Seuss: I'm here to ask, as you'll soon see, Did you grope Miss Lewinsky? Did you grope her in your house? Did you grope beneath her blouse?"
*A joke about a man who joins a nudist club, sees two signs that say "Beware of Gays," then bends over to read a small plaque in the ground that says: "Sorry... you've had two warnings!"
*A long parody—inspired by the Oakland plan to teach African American slang as Ebonics—about the Atlanta school district teaching Hickphonics, such as: "Jew here that my brother from Jawjuh got a job with that bob war fence comp'ny?"
*How "cuddling a woman" after sex is either the best part, the second best part, or "$100 extra," and why a woman who is uncomfortable watching you masturbate "shouldn't have sat next to you on the bus in the first place."
Some are more explicit, and are among dozens of electronic messages—including mail arranging dates, parties, dinners, and golf—discovered by civic activist John Hoffman during a recent county public-records search. "There's a lot of goofing off during office hours," Hoffman notes. Most messages were sent to and from Kingdome office staffers and were meant for a limited audience. (Of course, so was Krull's e-mail.) No one has complained, however—including Ron Sims and the council. Makes you wonder if, as the ex-ombudsman always contended, it was his politics, not his e-mail, that caused the furor.