Palo Alto to launch fraud hotline for city workers | April 29, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 29, 2011

Palo Alto to launch fraud hotline for city workers

In revamp of ethics policies, city plans to develop new 'code of conduct'

by Gennady Sheyner

City workers who sniff out fraud at Palo Alto's City Hall could soon have a new whistle-blowing tool at their disposal.

This story contains 764 words.

If you are a paid subscriber, check to make sure you have logged in. Otherwise our system cannot recognize you as having full free access to our site.

If you are a paid print subscriber and haven't yet set up an online account, click here to get your online account activated.

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at


Posted by The Shadow Knows, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2011 at 9:22 am

Perhaps such a review should start with a look at the compensation of City Manager James Keene. As an initial example, let's review the recent pay and compensation cuts being taken by most City Employees and still in negotiation with others.

City Manager Keene led the drive for such reductions, citing the need for "permanent structural change" in compensation and expenditures. After imposing such reductions on SEIU and Management employees he "voluntarily" took a 5% pay cut himself and received a standing ovation from the City Council when he announced it.

What has not previously come to light is that his reduction was for one year only, and has since been quietly restored. So much for "permanent structural change", let alone equal treatment of all employees.

This would appear to be a classic case of "do as I say, not as I do".
While it may not be fraud in the legal sense, it is certainly fraudulent leadership and reeks of hypocrisy.

This will be the first in a series of postings about the compensation of the City Manager, revealing the true amount of total compensation and many prior undisclosed and unreported items.

The Shadow

Posted by Detail Observer, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2011 at 10:48 am

Start by examining the $100K per year utility workers who collect used light bulbs from the hardware stores.

Posted by Who-Needs-Ethics--And-Why-Now?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2011 at 11:50 am

There is no mention of documenting the results of this "hotline", or new "ethics" policy. If the premise is to hide the results under a barrel, and not let the public know how the staff is reporting on itself, then what's the point?

And what about the public? When we see police sitting around coffee shops for an hour, or more, at a time--who can we call? Or Utility employees parked under a shady tree on a hot day--who can we call? Of when half of city hall can't be found on a Friday after noon--who should we call?

Without making the public a part of the enforcement mechanism for the "ethics code" .. this is not as meaningful as it seems.

Posted by Inside Observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Audit Public Works + Human Relations. City Manager's office needs an overhaul. Same mindset & methods? Same bad outcome. Who, in their right mind, would speak up, under the same circumstances & with the same people?

Posted by Who-Needs-Ethics--And-Why-Now?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2011 at 12:53 pm

City Workers Make Porn Film While On the Job:
Web Link

City officials failed to discipline two traffic officers who appeared in a pornographic film while on the job, NBC4 LA has found

Thinking back to the well-documented Utilities scandal, virtually no one was punished, although a couple of people ended up losing their jobs, or moved on. Even then, former City Manager Benest, more interested in "talking care of our own" keep the Head on the Utilities on staff, being the highest paid individual on the payroll at the time, in order to get to his next birthday and be able to make a higher pension payout when he retired. Were Benest's actions "ethical"? Probably not. But no one on the City Council seemed to care. If memory serves, not one Council Member showed any outrage, or called for a release of the internal probe that turned up many more problems than just the "moonlighting" that turned up in Menlo Park.

When there is this kind of "ethics" in place in a City Government, it's difficult to believe that anything will change until there is a "top-down" house cleaning. That's not likely until the Council is elected to insure that there is good government, not just to make sure that special interest groups, like the Friends of the Children's Theater, the Airport crowd, the Children's Zoo, the Art Center, etc. and so on and so on.

Too many people in Palo Alto don't care about honesty in government--just that they get "their piece of the pie".

Posted by Doron Levin, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm

The False Claims Act provides a legal tool to counteract fraudulent billings turned in to the Federal Government. Claims under the law have been filed by people with insider knowledge of false claims which have typically involved health care, military, or other government spending programs. It is practice of fraud hotline.
Web Link

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields