New help for CA whistleblowers

K. Lloyd Billingsley: The Sacramento Bee has been vigilant on the public-employee pension issue and has now come to the aid of embattled whistleblowers. On July 3 the Bee’s associate editor Ginger Rutland broke the story of program analyst Scott Thompson, praised by the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) for his work in the case of Acevia Craft. She had died in 2005 but family members buried her in the backyard and kept collecting her CalSTRS pension. Thompson put a stop to that but according to Rutland’s story CalSTRS did not take kindly to Thompson blowing the whistle on pension spiking by education bureaucrats.

CalSTRS fired him and “his dismissal,” wrote Rutland, “raises grave questions about CalSTRS’ commitment to safeguarding the public trust and public dollars.” The case, which Thompson is disputing, bears an eerie resemblance to others.

James Enstrom of UCLA, for example, took heat for blowing the whistle on a fake PhD at CARB and James Lindberg and Robert Cervantes were punished for exposing massive fraud in the state department of education. In those hostile conditions, whistleblowers need all the help they can get. So do journalists.

Government should hand over the information before anybody asks for it. Such “affirmative disclosure” would aid all persons and publications seeking information on pension fraud and other misconduct in state government.

JULY 6, 2011

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