FREE SPEECH — Political incorrectness has again landed an elected local board member in trouble with his peers, reports Tom Lochner in the Contra Costa Times.  And again, the taboo comments under censure concern the physical capacity of shorter women to be firefighters.

Just days after completing
a four-month censure and suspension for a comment casting doubt on the
qualification of short women to be firefighters, Rodeo-Hercules Fire
District board member Bill Prather faces possible censure yet again.

This time, it's over a remark he is accused of making in a Pinole bar that a friend of another board member says he overheard.

Aug. 29, "Director Prather again made inappropriate statements, at
'Pete's Place,' " reads a draft resolution on Wednesday's board meeting
agenda. "He was overheard assuring that he would not allow any
(expletive) female 5'3 inch firefighter (to) be a firefighter in the
district as long as (he is) on the board."

The resolution further
states that "on June 25, 2009, Director Prather was also heard
asserting that his position regarding the employment of female
firefighters was one of 'revenge.' "
On June 25, the board
censured Prather over a comment he made during a Feb. 18 open-session
board discussion of the Pack Test, a fitness test he advocates and the
firefighters union opposes.

Prather opined that some firefighters
are unqualified. When questioned about whom he meant, he said,
"Five-foot-two-inch females that can't do the job," according to the
meeting minutes. Prather has repudiated his remark and apologized
publicly several times.

Also on June 25, the board suspended Prather from sitting on the board for
120 days. The suspension, according to district counsel William Ross,
was necessary because Prather created a hostile work environment by his
remark and also because he exhibited "prejudgment" by making up his
mind on the fitness test.