One of the more interesting elements of being a blogger who covers local government are the whistleblower rumors that have been sent to me. Did former superintendent Allen keep money from tickets he was supposed to have sold? (impossible to confirm or deny). Was there a “Party house” where kids went to take drugs without parents home? (I would guess the answer is “yes” since 1920 or so).
These are some policies on these whistleblower stories that may be sent to this blog.
I like to read these stories, thanks for sending them in. You may send the story to me anonymously, but I do take submissions much more seriously if you give me your name. If there is a real basis for investigating the issues a whistleblower sends to this blog, I may be able to take the accusations of improper actions to authorities and they could resolve the issue. If the charges are that illegal acts are being done, the police may be involved. Please read further down for reporting illegal acts.
I’m not a journalist working for a newspaper. There are shield laws that protect journalists from revealing their sources that don’t apply to bloggers (or the law is unclear). I don’t want to go to jail to protect sources, so I can’t say to any whisleblowers “I will keep your name confidential under all conditions”. If you know of an official that is breaking the law, and you don’t want to go to the police, then start with the local newspapers, they love these sort of stories.
Sometimes there are bad actions taken by officials that don’t rise to the level of illegality, they are just “improper”, and the authorities in charge may do nothing when informed. Publicly outing the official may be the only action that can be done, and that is where it may end.
Contrary to the general impression you may get from reading this blog, I’m not stupid. If you are concocting a story in order to take revenge on an official, or just trolling me, I’m not going to post your story. Unverifiable accusations are not going to fly.
I do understand that sometimes you can’t prove an accusation, but have good reason to believe it is true. Send it to me. I can”t do anything with it until the facts can be confirmed, but it might be part of the puzzle that leads to a story that does get posted.
Use the feedback form in the “about” section (link at top of home page) to send me your insider info.
Criminal acts by superiors
The horrific stories that are coming out of Penn State have a lot of people asking “why didn’t the people who knew what was going on call the police?” They didn’t call the police because it could have ended, or severely affected, their own careers. Powerful and corrupt people get their power by making sure the people who try to harm them are instantly fired, and charged with breaking rules in order to justify the firing. Then it becomes a case where the person who is originally made the charges is called a disgruntled employee.
If you know that there are illegal acts being committed by a superior, immediately contact an employment lawyer. They can guide you through the steps that will protect your career. The best outcome may be to leave your job, and blow the whistle after you have a new job. Simply keeping your mouth shut is rarely the best option. It certainly wasn’t the best choice for the people at Penn State.
Who should be reported?
If you have a photo of a teacher doing shots, or posed in some half-naked beach party – keep it to yourself. I have no interest in making life harder for some low level school or city employee. A city department head or school administrator who is doing things that will affect their work are sort of maybe. Board members, city council members, the mayor and the superintendent are public officials who are in a very explicit position of authority, and should expect any evidence of unethical actions (and stupid public statements) to be the subject of investigation, both by me and local newspapers.