The city is on the way to establish a ‘whistle-blower’ policy to establish avenues for city employees to report what they may see as illegal government activity. During the committee of the whole session on Tuesday the council approved the proposed policy. It will be considered for formal approval at the next business meeting.
City legal counsel Patrick O’Connell said if a complaint is made then there would need to be an investigation to determine the factual circumstances for the council to consider. He said the policy is based on experience and what’s worked best and to that prompt action is taken to remedy whatever the circumstance is and at the same time to protect the complaining party.
O’Connell said the city may want to consider an independent investigator if a claim is made. He said there would be a finding of factual determinations and the city would have to determine what to do and whether any action was warranted. He says there would be circumstances where the city would have to act because there has been a determination something improper has been done and there would be circumstances where the facts don’t justify that kind of action. O’Connell said in those cases it would be a judgment call and would be based on human judgment in those situations.
The policy, according to the city legal counsel, describes illegal government activity and the policy is not about employee grievance issues.
O’Connell said as city attorney he would likely only get involved if the case ends up a legal matter in court. Initially any issues would be directed to the City Administrator to begin the review process.
The policy was developed by City Administrator Jessica Kinser based on other city’s policies with some adjustments by the city’s legal counsel.
Kinser said the city’s strategic planning discussions had this type of policy as a priority.