Newly departed Albany City Manager Alfred Lott calls them “moles.”
City Commissioner Tommie Postell calls them “rats”.
The International City-County Management Association calls them “heroes.”
They are public employees who risk their jobs by putting integrity over career and telling the truth about what is going on at city hall. They do it because that’s the way their parents raised them. They do it because it’s the right thing to do.
And they need to be protected.
Because the Albany City Commission has no problem with fraud and waste, taxpayers are soon going to be writing a huge check to Mary LaMont, the former human resources director who is telling the truth about what city hall is really like – and has records and tapes to prove it.
Why? Because the City Commission – putting complacency and politics over community – accepts the warped point of view that whistleblowers indeed are rodents. If that weren’t the case and if Albany city hall weren’t a criminalized organization, LaMont’s concerns would have been addressed while she was still on the job, Lott would have been fired, and Albany taxpayers would be all the better off for it.
It’s certainly not that we expect to happen, but we think that the City of Albany should follow the lead of model ICMA cities and pass an on ordinance stating that it is the city of Albany’s policy to:
1. Encourage the reporting by its employees of improper governmental action taken by city officers or employees, and the reporting of retaliatory actions for such reporting;
2. Establish a procedure for making such reports;
3. Protect city employees who have reported improper government actions;
4. Provide monetary rewards to whistleblowers whose actions result in saving taxpayer funds.
Routinely, this newspaper publishes articles generated through whistleblowers who relay details of public employees – usually highly ranking and handsomely paid – who violate federal, state or local laws or rules; who abuse authority with substantial adverse impact to the public interest; and who grossly waste public funds.
These people should be lauded – not ostracized.
Does even one city commissioner have enough integrity to propose a whistleblower protection policy?
By Kevin Hogencamp