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San Diego Reveals Little About Public Employee Complaints

Audio

Aired 9/8/09

The city of San Diego may not be adhering to California rules when it comes to being transparent about complaints against its employees.

— The city of San Diego may not be adhering to California rules when it comes to being transparent about complaints against its employees.

Over the last year, the city received 140 complaints on its fraud hotline. Twenty-six, which city officials deemed fraud-related, were investigated and details of the allegations that were substantiated were made public. But the public never learned what happened to the remaining 114 complaints -- from whistleblower retaliation, discrimination and sexual harassment. City auditor Eduardo Luna said a tally of proven complaints was published.

"One of the challenges we have here is we want to be as transparent as possible with the complaints that are coming in," he said. "But on the other hand we have to balance in terms of what we can disclose."

Luna pointed to a law that prohibits the city from releasing the names of the accuser and the accused even when complaints are proven. But Terry Francke of the open government advocacy group Californians Aware says if complaints revealed wrongdoing, he says the courts have ruled the public is entitled to know the names and details although whistleblowers' identities are confidential. Frank said the tally of cases with three-word descriptions the city does release reveals nothing.

"I think it's worse than useless," he said. "Because it actually raises more questions than it answers without providing any meaningful answers."

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