The Saga of Kyle and Erin, aka “The Days of Their Lives”
By Ken K. Gourdin
The Salt Lake Tribune ran a story on the disclosure by City Council members Erin Mendenhall and Kyle La Malfa of their romantic relationship—a relationship which, in Mendenhall’s case, is an affair, since she is still married to her (soon-to-be-ex) husband. For the story on the disclosure of Mendenhall’s and La Malfa’s relationship, see here (last accessed January 31, 2015): http://www.sltrib.com/news/1876741-155/are-romantic-ties-on-salt-lake. In response, quoting a portion of the article, I commented:
“Mendenhall said she and her husband have been working to make the best of a bad situation for her children.”
Yeah, um, about that, Ms. Mendenhall: If that were really the case, you would’ve said, “Oh, Kyle, I’m so flattered by your attention. It’s so sweet. But, see, here’s the thing: I’m married. It’s not that I’m not interested, but, let’s at least wait for the ink to dry on my divorce papers, OK? Thanks!”
On the other hand, I have to hand it to you, Ms. Mendenhall: Hell, I can’t even attract the attention of ONE potential love interest at a time, let alone TWO!
The Tribune recently published an article on Mayor Ralph Becker’s push for affordable housing, in which Mendenhall is quoted. For the story on the mayor’s affordable housing initiative, see here (last accessed January 31, 2015): http://www.sltrib.com/news/2117119-155/becker-unveils-plan-to-build-5000. In an on-line comment in response to the story, I asked, “Is Kyle gonna put you up in one of those apartments, Erin? Oh, wait … You both make too much, so you can’t qualify. Sorry. My bad.” An interlocutor expressed disapproval at this comment. I replied:
I admit, I have a couple of huge blind spots.
One, as someone who has successfully attracted the collective indifference of the female of the species in its entirety, I have little patience for people who do not end one relationship before starting another. What do I know? Maybe Mr. La Malfa and/or Ms. Mendenhall really is/are “all that and a bag of chips,” such that each found the other totally irresistible, Ms. Mendenhall’s “then-attached” status notwithstanding?
Two, as someone who has made more than a few attempts to secure employment in the public sector with varying degrees of success and who comes from a family with a strong tradition of public service (while I’ll admit this view makes me terribly old fashioned), I have little patience for people whose private conduct potentially raises questions about their fitness for such service.
Thus, even if it’s “just an affair,” someone such as Ms. Mendenhall, whose private conduct potentially raises questions about her overall honesty (and hence, about her general fitness for office), isn’t getting my vote, nor should she think herself immune from my public criticism. And I think it’s rather disingenuous to plead for a need for privacy and space AFTER disclosing such things, when it does not appear that she was concerned enough about how her private conduct might reflect upon her public fitness (or on other aspects of her private life) that she made much of an effort to avoid engaging in the conduct in the first place.
As I’ve said before, if Ms. Mendenhall attempted to initiate the relationship, the correct response from Mr. La Malfa would have been, “Call me when your divorce is final”; if Mr. La Malfa attempted to initiate the relationship, the correct response from Ms. Mendenhall would have been, “I’m so flattered you’re interested, but, see, here’s the thing. I’m married. Would it be OK if I called you once the ink on my divorce papers has had a chance to dry?”
My interlocutor responded that Ms. Mendenhall’s and Mr. La Malfa’s private life has no bearing on Mayor Becker’s housing project. I replied:
You’re probably right that their intimate lives don’t have anything to do with the mayor’s housing project, but who can say for sure that their relationship will never impact city business? What if something comes before the Council that benefits one’s district to the detriment of the other’s district? (In the event of such an occurrence, relationships can be strained even when nothing else, such as an affair, is complicating them: “Respectfully, the Gentle-Idiot from Sugarhouse [a Salt Lake City neighborhood] is full of it …”)
Even if one decides to break off the relationship, you think everything will be hunky-dory on the Council then, simply because they’ve traded staring googly-eyed at one another across the Council table for staring daggers into one another? I don’t. You think everyone else on the Council is going to be happy, if-and-when one or the other of them demands, in a thousand subtle, inexplicit ways, that each of their Council colleagues take his or her side after the breakup? I don’t. I would be loath to work in such an environment, even if it otherwise were The Greatest Job In The Universe.
Even if an intimate relationship between coworkers otherwise poses no conflicts, I think a very good rule of thumb is, “Don’t get your honey where you get your money.”
Pending further developments, stay tuned for another exciting episode soon!