Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More on Whistleblower Protection

Where are the so-called good government groups on whistleblower protections? (See previous post.) Surely, Russ, Susan and Dick (hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil) know the critical importance of protecting those in government who come forward to report problems. This is true at any time, but especially now. Without a functioning state ethics panel, and no prospect of such a panel becoming operational before the end of the year, whistleblowers may be the only way to expose wrongdoing in state government.

Where is Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who, with great fanfare, recently proposed a measure that encourages whistleblowers to expose health care fraud and abuse? The measure was geared mainly toward the Medicaid program, but shouldn’t it apply to other state programs and all vulnerable populations? Do we somehow value people in nursing homes more than those in centers for the developmentally disabled?

Where are the Assembly Republicans? In response to the Penn State situation, Assemblyman Tedisco has already proposed legislation that would require coaches to report abuse of young people. But what about people who report abuse without being compelled by the law and who then face retaliation for doing the right thing? Where’s the righteous indignation for them?

Where are the whistleblower attorneys? This is a major practice area in the law. There are scores of attorneys who specialize in Qui Tam cases. They pop up whenever there’s a contingent fee to be made, but none of them wants to take this case?

Where are other reporters who cover state government? With a mere hint of partisan political scandal, they behave like a pack of baying hounds and chase down each others stories. But with a crisis in care for the developmentally disabled, they say: “That’s his story. I don’t want to follow it.”

Where is the Columbia Journalism Review? Why doesn’t it take up the cause of protecting the sources the Times used to expose wrongdoing?

What is going on here? Why isn’t anybody willing to stand up for honest people in state social services agencies who saw abuse and tried to stop it? Is this a conspiracy of silence? Doesn’t anyone care?

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