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Whistle Blowing

Whistle Blowing - would you do it?

  • Blow the whistle.

    Votes: 14 77.8%
  • Do nothing.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other, which I will explain below.

    Votes: 4 22.2%

  • Total voters
    18

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
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?
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
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?
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
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.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
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??
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
I'd try to convince the Council to do the right thing, and failing that - blow that whistle.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,889
Points
38
Tranplanner said:
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.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
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.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
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 :)
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
donk said:
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.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
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.
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
Points
29
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
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
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.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
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....
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
donk said:
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.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
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.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Michael Stumpf said:
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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