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Rewarding Jacksonville's whistleblowers

3:07 PM, Sep 3, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville city council has voted to protect and reward whistle-blowers who expose misconduct within the local government and its independent agencies last week.

"The truth is most of the work is not done at the City Council meeting. By the time you see it the real decision has already been made," said John Winkler, member of Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County.

John Winkler is constantly jotting down notes with a pen in his front pocket and paper in his wallet he considers himself part of the city's checks and balances many have never heard of.

Winkler, along with 11 other members of Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, attend budget and committee meetings to make sure taxes are spent the way they're supposed to be. 

"Jacksonville government is about trying to be the high power, trying to move to the next level and trying to get money," said Crystal Walker, a Jacksonville resident.

While some locals are vocal about their lack of trust for the city government, officials hope the new whistle-blower statute will encourage city employees including the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue to report fraud, health and safety violations.

There is currently a state law already on the books but Jacksonville's statute would keep the whistle-blower's name confidential and prohibit adverse action.

On top of that, if a whistle-blower's tip recovers funds between $50,000-$100,000 they could receive up to 10 percent of the savings.

Before whistle-blowers can walk away with a check a committee made up of three city council members will be formed and determine if the information meets a number of criteria including whether or not the city would have learned of the information had the whistle-blower not reported it.

The new law takes effect January 1, 2014.

First Coast News

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