Urban planning community

Poll results: Whistle Blowing - would you do it?

Voters
18. You may not vote on this poll
  • Blow the whistle.

    14 77.78%
  • Do nothing.

    0 0%
  • Other, which I will explain below.

    4 22.22%
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Thread: Whistle Blowing

  1. #1
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Whistle Blowing

    Now for a serious topic.

    There is a situation that is coming to a head in my jurisdiction that for political reasons may be pushed under the carpet.

    There is a legal obligation to deal with this issue, but council does not want to. Our Community Planning Act requires that council enforce its by-laws, and if they don't any person may apply to the Minister and Courts to have the By-law enforced. As it appears that council has little intention of enforcing the by-law and this situation offends me personally and professionally should I "blow the whistle", that is to say write the letter to the minister and make application to the courts as a private citizen?

    What would you do?
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Refer to your CIP code of ethics. (got one?)

    I'd hang my hat on the obligation to enforce it. But start with direct discussions with the officials on an individual basis and advise them of your basis, both in by laws and rules of professional conduct.

    Might not get you anywhere if they're really screwed up politically, but is this serious enough to be classified as "whistle blowing" that will offer you protection under the law?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    CYA.....Cover Your Azz and blow the whistle.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Unfortuneately our Code of Conduct and Statement of Values are rather vague on what to do when the system is going wrong.


    There is still a chance council will do the right thing, but considering the pressure they have put on me personally and my employer, I tend to doubt it.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    You have a right as a citizen to demand they enforce their own by-laws and play by the rules, and you have an ethical obligation to the public to serve in a just manner.

    Screw the bastards and turn them in....

    However, if it would put your job on the line or possibly lead to some sort of retribution I would consult with the CIP, a lawyer maybe, a trusted friend??

  6. #6
    maudit anglais
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    I'd try to convince the Council to do the right thing, and failing that - blow that whistle.

  7. #7
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Originally posted by Tranplanner
    I'd try to convince the Council to do the right thing, and failing that - blow that whistle.
    I'm with Tranplanner on this one. I know that the AICP code would direct me to work toward enforcement of the by-law, as part of serving the public interest.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  8. #8
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    What you guys aren't my trusted friends?

    Seriously, my lawyer, who happens also to be the cities has advised them (council) not to brush this issue aside, my direct supervisor has inferred that job security may be an issue, but we have other issues with one another right now, so it is hard to tell if this would be the final nail in my coffin.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  9. #9
    maudit anglais
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    I'm not sure about NB - isn't there legislation that protects public-sector whistle-blowers?

    You don't sound to happy out there anyway, so maybe this is the opportunity to go out in a blaze of glory, and move on. I hear Nunavut is always looking for planners

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Originally posted by donk
    What you guys aren't my trusted friends?

    my direct supervisor has inferred that job security may be an issue, but we have other issues with one another right now, so it is hard to tell if this would be the final nail in my coffin.
    Then NO, I wouldn't say anything. It's always a bargaining chip at a later date, too.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Nunavut would be great, but the cost of housing on a planner's salary, is insane (200 g's for a starter home). A friend of a friend is working up there as a planner and loves it though. I don't think I could handle the super long, dark winter.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Donk i can relate, im in a situation that is pretty well the same, i know its wrong, i have tried telling my boss its wrong, he knows it but its "the way things are here" their own half baked atty tells them they can do this stuff, even when he does not they do it anyway. "we are so and so and we do what we want"

    i want the hell out of here but i dont want it to be via a pink slip, no one seems hot to hire a still sorta green *less than 10 years exp* planner from out of state.

    good luck and document EVERYTHING
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  13. #13
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    PG, I can sympathize with you too, unfortuneately I now have "too much experience" in a single jurisdiction and have been pidgeon holed as being from NB and having done certain tasks and therefore not being suitable for other jobs.

    As for this matter, teh more I think about it the more I think I will have to blow the whistle. I have about 2 weeks to decide.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I just PM'd you with my story. Good luck.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Just a quick update,

    Council did the right thing, somewhat, and let us go to court.

    The judge was pretty funny with the person and let him have all the rope he wanted to hang himself with. From the judge's closing remarks it sounds like we won, unless there is a nit picky legal finding against us in how we prepared or delivered the order.

    The bad news is that the accussed brought a council member to testify on his behalf who let out "secrets" / privileged information discussed in chambers with the city's lawyer.

    If only the line between the two individuals was clearer and not just a whole lot of inside knowledge and conjecture....
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Originally posted by donk
    The bad news is that the accussed brought a council member to testify on his behalf who let out "secrets" / privileged information discussed in chambers with the city's lawyer.
    Here's an interesting topic. How does your council handle members who disclose information discussed in closed session? We have recently dealt with this and adopted some new ethics rules as a result.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I will probably find out tomorrow what council is going to do. Our lawyer was even shocked and offended at this person's actions.

    This is not the first time either, he leaked a staff report to neighbourhood residents for a rezoning (was not pleasnat having people read your report and comment on items they don't understand then have to comment on their misinterpretations) and then last week also had a letter in teh newspaper arguing against a recent council decision and providing information that only Council should/would know as it was confidential.

    The Clerk inferred that the council member has probably broken his oath of office and may ask for an investigation.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Originally posted by Michael Stumpf
    Here's an interesting topic. How does your council handle members who disclose information discussed in closed session? We have recently dealt with this and adopted some new ethics rules as a result.
    It has happened here. Closed session to discuss legal strategies on a real estate matter. One Council member was friends with the land owner and would go home and call the guy and give him all the details. The Mayor and Council just bent over and grabbed the vaseline.

    This is the same alderman that chaired the Public Works Committee and did side work as a consulting engineer. Not only did he vote on the plans he prepared, he would have them added to the agenda for approval when they weren't code compliant. I was still on probation and had to write up a formal complaint to the District Attorney. Nothing ever happened, but he's not an alderman anymore.

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