Guest MINDSETTER™ Deckman: Tanzi Must Talk

Thursday, October 26, 2017


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Teresa Tanzi

Like everyone else in the state, I am appalled hearing Representative Theresa Tanzi speak about the fact that someone “in a higher-ranking position” in the state house informed her that “sexual favors” would allow her legislation to go further. However, I was even more appalled hearing that she steadfastly refuses to reveal the identity of the predator.

Rep Tanzi just informed us all that there is someone at the highest levels of power in the House who is actually willing to pass, and presumably kill, legislation that impacts every Rhode Islander simply based upon whether he can get his primal urges satisfied.

That is a scary person.

She also just informed us that we have a sexual predator roaming the halls of the state house who seeks to use his perceived power to dominate and coerce women.  In responding to the questions about the level of intensity of her harasser Rep. Tanzi stated: “The entirety of the interaction showed that this person was serious.”

That person just got a lot scarier…

This is a very big problem for the people in the state of Rhode Island. It is even a bigger problem for every other woman in the State House whether they be fellow legislators, lobbyists or, God forbid, one of the many young female pages, most of whom are minors, who work in the building.

All of these women are vulnerable to this predator and Representative Tanzi’s silence is ensuring they will continue to be so. Her silence also makes her his accomplice. If you know there is a predator on the prowl amongst your peers and you refuse to identify them then you are working on behalf of them.

That’s just how that goes.

Every woman who works, lobbies or pages inside that building should be demanding Rep. Tanzi identifies the predator. Furthermore, every spouse, brother, sister, father and mother of any woman working in that building should be loudly demanding the same.

Think about the psyche of this type of predator for a moment. This is an aggressive male who willingly and purposefully uses their power to dominate women. These men are not only narcissistic they are also sadistic. They objectify women in the worst way. 

They are also repeat offenders, who depend upon the silence of or the compliance of others, currently like Representative Tanzi, in order to continue their Harvey Weinstein-like behaviors.

Representative Tanzi considers herself a leader against sexual harassment in the workplace yet she steadfastly refuses to identify the perpetrator. That is not leadership. That is collaboration and cowardice.

If that weren’t enough, her refusal to answer any questions, even about the timing of the event, raises many serious and potentially damning questions beyond who it is she is protecting. Such as:

1. How is she benefitting by her silence? The fact that she has been appointed to chair a commission on sexual harassment, that she considers the appointment of a lifetime, threatens to answer that question for us.

2. Did the person she is protecting have a role in appointing her as the chair of the commission to buy her continued silence? There is only one person in the House of Representatives who appoints chairpersons to House Commissions. Her silence threatens to socially indict Speaker Mattiello, who is already extremely vulnerable in his home district.

3. How can she be trusted to conduct meaningful hearings on sexual harassment when her actions demonstrate a willingness to protect harassers and predators? Her refusal to reveal her harasser completely undermines any integrity she, and the commission, can ever hope to have.

When will Rhode Island politicians learn that the people just want authenticity, integrity and respect from their elected leaders?

During a recent interview on Ch 12’s Newsmakers Rep. Tanzi also stated the following: “I am an elected official so I have a larger platform. We take a certain responsibility when we become spokespeople for institutions and I take preserving the integrity of the institution very seriously.”

I am happy to hear that and I couldn’t agree with you more Rep. Tanzi. But I can’t hear what you are saying because what you are not saying is screaming far too loudly.

Do what true leaders do Rep. Tanzi. Speak to protect those you have sworn to serve. But do more than that.  Speak to protect the other women who are currently in harm’s way; especially the young, impressionable pages.

How could you not?


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Jeffrey Deckman is a leadership and organizational development consultant. He is the designer of the Leading with A.I.R. (Authenticity, Integrity & Respect) Conference. He can be reached at


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