tv [untitled] November 8, 2011 3:30am-4:00am PST
considered the standard practice that his investigation are retaliation would not occur. that is a standard practice, and best practice in this world. these specific recommendations that are directed to the mechanics of how the process works really aren't hours to respond to. i believe fully that a successful retaliation program is a critical part of these programs. the program's only work if people are comfortable coming forward to make allegations. 2 and with a couple of quick accomplishments on the program, the bulk of his program was moved to the comptroller's office in 2004 from a number of different city agencies formerly responsible for it. we received over 2000 complaints of varying levels of complexity
from the very mundane to the very substantial. we believe that as a result of those complaints, the city has a stronger controls in place, city resources are used more efficiently and it is part of what helps us governed the city. specifically, we received and investigated claims by city contractors that initiate lawsuits by the attorney's office. we have investigated and discovered improper management and human-resources practices. these have resulted in improvements to process, termination of employees and other disciplinary actions. we have investigated and received complaints and employees' conduct inside business on ticity time.
unauthorized use of vehicles. and lastly, other of allegations involving over time used by city managers and employees. and you for your attention today. i would like to thank the civil grand jury for the report. while we disagree with some of the tone and the findings, a think there are recommendations that we are working to implement that will improve the effectiveness of the program. supervisor campos: thank you for your presentation in your response to the work. one of the things i have asked is that maybe we could have the ethics commission here. i see the director, if you don't mind, just giving us a sense of the issue of retaliation, that
the recommendation and the finding is outside the jurisdiction of the comptroller's office. i was wondering if you could give us some information, since this is within the purview of the ethics commission, how it handles those matters. >> the ethics commission does have authority to review retaliatory whistle-blower complaints. strangely, we have a limitation that often prevents people from using us as a solution to those issues because the ethics commission has been able to issue punitive justice, but not restorative justice. in other words, if we find that someone has committed retaliatory action against an employee, we can issue punitive
measures against the person that committed those, but we have no ability to restore someone to their job, restore benefits, rights, or lost pay. the complaints we handle, people come to us and we will certainly take those cases. in general, they prefer to go through their union and the civil service commission that has restorative justice through an attorney at the court system. supervisor campos: how many retaliation claims have been filed with the ethics commission? >> less than one year. >> has there been a finding of any retaliation? >> about half of them there was no fighting. at the other half, if i recall, there was no retaliation. there was an issue to be
resolved, but it was referred back to the department. >> has any individual been defined as a result of retaliation by the ethics commission? >> not by us. there are a couple of those attending, but i can't discuss those. supervisor campos: the finding that relates to this and says the jury found that whistle blowers that faced retaliation chose to initially use the union or sue the city rather than using the ethics commission to resolve the retaliation complaint. you have thoughts on whether or not that is the case? >> that is the case. if we have the ability either ourselves or through the civil service commission to also conduct a restorative justice, they might be more interested in using us as a tool for those
particular cases. supervisor farrell: the bottom line is that the ethics commission has not received any complaints were they have vowed retaliation? >> correct. supervisor farrell: i understand the dichotomy, but if you only have punitive justice powers, the other part of the city government would not take it upon themselves to do restorative justice as well. it has never been proven, so we're talking all hypothetical. i can't imagine a scenario where the ethics commission finds true retaliation, you enter punitive damages, and someone is no longer working with the city agency and a tough luck. >> you may give very good point. -- you make a very good point.
supervisor farrell: supervisor farrelcampos: in other jurisdic, how they handle these types of retaliations, is there a more of our comprehensive response? or is there a better coordination? i can see the disincentives in terms of not going to the ethics commission. if your job is not going to be restored, why would you do that? it is something definitely to think about. hickey, director. any other questions? anything to add? >> i just wanted to reiterate
our support for the whistle blower program and i understand that given the responses of the mayor's office during what the comptroller's office said and in consultation with the ethics commission for of one of the findings and recommendations, we just want to reiterate that the mayor does support the protection of whistle-blowers and we might have disagreements on this, it is religious the kind of balance of the confidentiality issues that might exist. and again, the protection of the whistle-blowers. supervisor campos: i know that there are some members of the public that have been waiting for quite some time. let me open it up to public comment on this time. i have a card from francisco decosta, but if there is
anyone that wants to speak, please come forward. two minutes. >> good afternoon, supervisors. after 20 years at the hospital, i became a whistleblower and i was abruptly recalled laid-off. the report asks you to decide whether whistleblowers are an asset or a threat. in our experience, they are a threat when the report a high level city officials. we reported the laguna honda ceo. such complaints about -- the patient fund, we wanted an audit. instead, we were driven out of
the hospital. when we reported retaliation to the ethics commission, and we were told to get a lawyer. the set our complaints were a red herring. supervisor elsbernd said there was no money for an audit. the pr director was belligerent. we were denounced as detractors. when the controller conducted an audit, $350,000 of misappropriated funds were restored to the patients. the civil grand jury report gives you a road map to salvage
the whistleblower program and to protect employees the report wrongdoing. but first, you have to decide whether whistle-blowers are an asset or a threat. >> i have a follow-up question for you. of the issue of retaliation, we were talking about the role of the ethics commission. you have any thoughts on that specifically? >> there is no one to go to when your retaliated against. the ethics commission investigator told us that you have to get a private attorney. i had no choice but to get a lawyer. there is no mechanism in the city to get redress for retaliation. supervisor campos: next speaker, please.
>> i worked for the honda for 20 years before it became known whistle-blower and those forced out of my job. and hands and whistle blower protection is fundamental to preventing negative selection in government. and negative selection is where corrupt or incompetent managers drive out competent employees that are willing to speak the truth, stand up for what they believe in and ask questions. instead, they are replaced with less competent employees that are willing to compromise themselves by remaining silent and obeying the manager. government becomes less effective when you have a system like this. it is lose-lose for the public. this is what happens to us. wasn't a complex of the whistleblower program regarding the health director and his financial conflict of interest.
he was working as a paid consultant for health management association, a for-profit corporation that contracted with the city. they were awarded a sole source know the contract with the department of public health in 2009. he recommended and signed off on it. he did not make the recommended public disclosures regarding his work and the health commission approved the contract publicly, nothing was said about it in the minutes. they did not make the required disclosures. the collected $30,000 and helped management associates got $100,000. why has it been two years since the conflict of interest has been reported with no findings and why did we lose our jobs? any whistle-blower that has an adverse employment action shortly after the blow the
whistle of a high-level manager should be considered retaliation until proven otherwise. >> this subcommittee should ask the city attorney for how many lawsuits against the city were due to retaliation cases and how they were settled, and at what cost. my recollection is creating the whistle-blower function in 2003 was due to the loss of effectiveness of a whistleblower program under the manager ed lee that is now mayor. it gave responsibility for retaliation complaints to the board of supervisors, not ethics. the task force ruled to months ago in my favor. the whistleblower program, the director of ethics had engaged
in willful failure and official misconduct for withholding was a blow or records. since the ruling, i have not heard when they hold a hearing on my complaint. i unofficial write-in candidate for mayor. calling for the removal of the ethics commission director and an overhaul of the whistleblower program. there should be a ballot measure to remove the whistleblower program from both ethics and the controller's function. let the voters decide on a complete overhaul to the whistleblower program moving to independent administrative lodges. you should hold a hearing on retaliation complaints and encouraged former consider --
the former city employees the cost the city dearly in civil obligation funds, just what their cost was. [chime] supervisor campos: thank you very much. next speaker. >> good afternoon, i'm nancy. i support the resolution responding to the civil grand jury recommendation for the whistleblower program. i call upon the board of supervisors to go one step further than just supporting this resolution. a suggest that you prepare clarify legislation that affirms the first responsibility of the comptroller to conduct investigations involving clearly serious whistle-blower complaints. they choose to route these complaints charged with wrongdoing as opposed to controlling and forming their own independent inquiries. the rating is questionable when
charges of financial mismanagement of back to the department. the method of complaint analysis is tantamount asking the fox of all the chickens are safe and accounted for. i asked the board to legislate in support of transparency of activities by requiring them to publish reports of their investigations and by allowing a whistle-blower is to choose not to be kept confidential and be able to relinquish this protection. i became a whistle-blower only after i went to the offending department with my concerns of mishandling public funds by a private company. i was shocked to learn that the method of the investigation was to relate my complaint back to the same people i originally spoke with. there is no resolution to my complaint two years later because of the failure of the city department to cooperate with the investigators.
there is no reason for the department to respond. no penalty for improper activities. public funds are not accounted for for no checks and balances. support the whistle-blower report resolution and consider additional legislation. i can be available to amplify on this at your will. supervisor campos: thank you. mr. paulson, you're on a roll. president c>> yes, i am. here comes the whistleblowing city night captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- -- night ♪ here comes the night ♪ ♪ good luck with your side here comes the whistleblowing night make it turn out right ♪
good luck with your side don't let it go down on me and though i searched and what i see is you imagine what you see is like the city sun going down on me ♪ ♪ don't let the city sun go down on me and what you imagine and see maybe it's not to be it's just a fragment in your mind it's like losing everything it's like the city sun going down on me ♪ supervisor campos: thank you very much. next speaker. >> koombaya to you, too.
thank you so much for the report, she was also the co- chair of the log cabin report that we did a couple weeks ago. and part of the hearing for this committee. whistleblowing is important. i knew nothing about the program until we started into this. since the report came out, there are winners and losers that are trying to do something about making change. they have made some positive changes. they are asking the questions, they are seeking information. i called the controller a partial winner. his original comment was a press release attacking the message and the messenger, but i have great respect for him because he called our group and and try to find out from one perspective we were coming.
he has a view and his group has a view that you looked at things as auditors. we are general citizens that with the program and how it affects people. the various conversations we have had made a big difference. i appreciate some of the findings, some of the recommendations. some of the people that are not so great, the ethics commission. god help us, we will never live long enough to see some of the end of their investigations. san francisco government at some of its citizens are losing out, too. let me tell you who i am really disappointed in. the mayor. he was the first investigator for this program, and his responses lacked anything. he had a chance to be strong, to be ethical, to move forward with this program and he did not.
the last thing. president chiu: can you finish your thought? >> i love associate brandise. sunshine is the best disinfectant and hopefully the civil grand jury brought some sunshine to this very important topic. president chiu: any other member of the public a supervisor campos: -- any other member of the public that would like to speak? public comment is closed. one of the important functions that we have in city government, i don't think you could have to transparency and accountability unless you have the most effective whistleblower program that you can have. i think it is really critical. i think this issue is more
complicated than simply pointing fingers. i think that the challenges faced by the program go beyond people not wanting to do the writing. i think that the controllers response is a very thoughtful response, but it doesn't mean -- i do believe we are doing as much as we can within the confines of what we have right now, but i think there are some structural changes and issues that we need to address. it doesn't have anything to do with the comptroller not doing what they are supposed to, it is we as a city and identify and the priority that we place and making policy choices about how to move forward to enhance a program that is doing a lot of good things. on the issue of retaliation is an issue that i think is really
critical. the controller is not responsible for overseeing that, but we need to figure out a more effective way of giving potential whistleblowers some protection and some assurance that by coming forward, they will not be losing their jobs and they will not be retaliated against. clearly what we have right now is not working. we have an opportunity, going forward, to think about ways it can be enhanced. perhaps it can look at other jurisdictions. if other jurisdictions are not doing it well, villainy to figure out a way that we can do it better. the second issue where i also think that some changes should be made or considered is this issue of who conducts the investigation. it means that the controller is
not doing what they are supposed to, but there is a larger question for me. as a matter of policy, we should discuss the potential benefits when a complaint comes and of someone outside the department that is the subject of the complaint conducting the initial investigation. that is a resource issue, but it might be a benefit to that, or something that we should consider. there may be some instances that even before the investigation is completed, you want to have the department know about some of the things that are going, the need for immediate change. this is an issue of resources. if we really believe there is a benefit to that, we're going to have to make a commitment for
providing additional resources. the office is being asked to do a lot. those are my thoughts. i want to thank the civil grand jury for their work. if i ever write a book and i need to think of the title, i will ask the civil grand jury members, because those titles are very clever. i also want to thank the controller for the measured and thoughtful way in which he responded to this report, i think he should be commended for that and for the ability to identify those recommendations that makes sense, and i am grateful for that to you and your staff. colleagues, thoughts and comments? supervisor farrell: i just want to thank the civil grand jury for their work on this matter into echo everything that
supervisor campos mentioned. an effective whistle-blower protection is key to city government. it is complicated and get to a lot of different issues, so we should talk through all these findings and recommendations, but i think the work does not stop here. a lot to commend our controller for his hard work on responses and the ongoing work for the whistle blower program. any thoughts on the findings and resolutions in particular? president chiu: a will defer to my colleagues on the spiriis. >> finding one. i'll be honest, i could go either way here. i understand the finding, i also understand and appreciate that
think it is the right thing given the resource constraints the way that the comptroller's office handles the allocation of the whistle-blower complaints were keeping them in house. we understand the potential conflict issue that is readily apparent. but for lower-level or lower exposure complaints, i see no problem with the current procedures. i would say no to finding number one, but it can be interpreted in many different ways. supervisor campos: i can live with that with the understanding that there is a larger issue here that needs to be addressed, we are talking about an independent investigation, but there may be additional levels of independence that you have, or just more resources. i think that we need to revisit
this issue and i would be interested in legislation -- i know if it is the charter amendment that makes it so that at least the possibility that someone outside the department that is the focus of the investigation is conducting the investigation. supervisor farrell: no on finding numbe rone. -- number one. i'm clear on no on recommendation number one. i don't think there is the ability to do investigations -- to do all of the investigations internally. supervisor campos: finding number six. i agree that the lack of public reporting of the whistle-blower investigation fails to provide