Letter: Aspen City Council faces a golden opportunity | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Aspen City Council faces a golden opportunity

A golden opportunity for City Council

Being a "frequent city critic," in the words of The Aspen Times, has consequences. For example, folks claiming to have knowledge of financial misconduct within city government seek out people like me hoping I will announce the misconduct because the whistleblower feels too intimidated to do it. Intimidated how? Maybe the whistleblower works for the city and witnesses the misconduct by a supervisor but can't risk the job loss (the whistleblower's, of course) that would follow reporting the misconduct.

The years-old but only recently revealed "parking-gate" has resulted in calls for cleaning house in City Hall. In turn, this has scared enough city employees that they are starting to tattle on each other, perhaps hoping the whistleblowers will survive and the bad guys finally will get the axe.

Writers for both local daily papers have called for city council to take more aggressive action. This has caused me to realize that a golden opportunity results for City Council. I will not reveal the identities of whistleblowers who tell stuff to me. If I did, nobody would tell me stuff. But I can't do anything about the misconduct they report to me.

City Council, however, can hire an independent forensic investigator, preferably a former prosecutor. He or she could interview whistleblowers to help identify possible misconduct and evaluate, based on experience, which leads should be pursued. If conducted with complete anonymity of the whistleblowers, City Council can identify hitherto concealed misconduct. This could be done in conjunction with a review of financial controls by a truly independent auditor.

For those who want to see more action by City Council, how about starting with these steps?

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Maurice Emmer

Aspen