Thinking about a vacation? Be sure to consider Brooksville, Florida (pop. 8,000). In addition to everything else Brooksville has to offer -- three city parks, a nine-hole golf course, and "an excellent library" -- Brooksville can now assure visitors that each and every one of its city employees will be wearing underwear while on duty.
The city council of Brooksville, located about 45 miles north of Tampa, voted recently to overhaul its personnel policies, and as part of that it approved a new dress code. After consulting with "a number of sources," city officials and attorneys came up with a series of guidelines that they hope will improve the government's "public image." Some idea of the government's current public image might be gleaned from what they felt it necessary to have the new code deal with:
- underwear is now required;
- employees must use deodorant;
- no halter tops or Spandex at work;
- no skirts worn "below the waistline";
- no other clothing that may be "distracting, offensive or revealing";
- only ears may be visibly pierced; and, perhaps most disturbingly,
- all cuts or wounds must now be covered.
There's your new tourism slogan: "Come to Brooksville: We've Covered Our Wounds!"
Fighting for the great American tradition of going commando at work was the city mayor, Joe Bernardini, who was the only member of the council to vote against underwear. He expressed concern over how the new code could be enforced, while also getting a headstart on being charged with harassment: "They said you had to wear undergarments," the mayor was quoted as saying, "but who's going to be the judge of that? Sometimes when it comes to certain people going bra-less, it's obvious. [Emphasis added.] But who's staring to see if that person doesn't have underwear on?" Well, probably everybody will be now, Mr. Mayor. I would advise "certain people" to show up in a burqa for a while.
This is apparently the second time the Brooksville council has tried to establish a dress code. The first time was in 1996, after sexual harassment allegations were leveled against the man who was then the city manager. That code's sponsor, though, appeared to blame the harassee and her attire for the incident, saying: "Men have it hard enough just to do a day's work and not be enticed by a woman who is not dressed properly . . . . If you have to bend over for the bottom file . . . that would entice any man, unless he is not completely a man." These truly progressive sentiments were expressed by council member Mary Staib, who was unable to get anyone to second her motion at the time. Now, at last, the men of Brooksville will have some protection from sexual enticement.
Still, you might want to put those files on the top shelf. Just to be safe.