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Does DC need a whistleblower shield law?

22 Nov
Mayor Gray has fired the DC health exchange employee who has criticized this failing program, and Jack Evans (whose first campaign I did volunteer work for in the Jurassic Age, when I was a twenty something), says this was a mistake.  They are both wrong; Evans doesn’t go nearly far enough.

DC attacks on whistleblowers and critics is nothing new. Seema Bhat was fired by the DC water authority when she reported very high lead levels ten years ago. And how many people could have told us about corruption and embezzlement by DC officials much earlier than we learned, but were afraid they would be fired from the jobs that pay their rent and feed their kids?

DC needs a whistleblower shield law that makes it impossible to fire a whistleblower unless and until your prove, in some extremely public forum with extremely transparent procedures, that they were maliciously lying or grossly incompetent.

I think I and a number of other Libertarian candidates in DC will be proposing that between now and the next election.

Washington City Paper reports:

For a guy who could ended up running against Vince Gray, mayoral hopeful Jack Evans has had trouble finding anything bad to say about the incumbent. Thanks to local righty talker WMAL, though, Evans has finally found something to disagree with the mayor about.

In an appearance yesterday on WMAL’s Morning on the Mall, Evans says Gray’s administration was wrong to fire D.C. insurance commissioner William White for not getting approval for a press release critical of President Barack Obama. “I think that was a big mistake on the mayor’s part,” Evans says.

In an Evans administration, White would’ve received a punishment short of dismissal.  “My understanding is that the mayor and his people were annoyed that Mr. White criticized the president without prior approval from the mayor,” Evans says. “And that may have been a mistake on Mr. White’s part, but I don’t believe it was a firing offense. That was more of a reprimand offense.”
These WMAL candidate interviews, incidentally, have become one of the best parts of the early mayoral campaign. Witness, later in the interview, Evans trying to gently explain to the host that he doesn’t support building giant parking garages in downtown. In October, Tommy Wells had to defend his marijuana decriminalization bill against hosts’ concerns that it would let federal workers smoke pot all the time.
Why candidates in a Democratic primary think they have to reach out to WMAL’s dittohead audience remains a mystery to LL, but it’s refreshing to see the candidates exposed to some old-fashioned exurban conservatism.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery