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Editorial: City employees must be free to tell the truth

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By Optic Editorial Board

It is our belief that employees with the City of Las Vegas should be free to tell the truth of what is happening in the city government without fear of retaliation or retribution. 

The high-ranking officials in the city government are engaged in a seemingly never-ending fight for control and power, a fight that has now led to multiple criminal investigations. In cases like these, it is often lower-level employees who expose what is really happening and lead to justice being served. 

However, in this community, there is a palpable level of fear that exists within City Hall, one that keeps everyone silent for the most part. Although “whistleblowing,” the act of exposing any kind of information or activity deemed illegal, unethical or not correct within an organization, is protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act, employees inside the City of Las Vegas government are rightfully afraid. 

This week, former Las Vegas Deputy Police Chief Kenneth Jenkins filed a federal lawsuit alleging he was forced to take an early retirement to avoid retaliation in response to his whistleblowing on financial and other issues related to the city in 2017. 

After he filed his complaints, he alleges he was denied previously approved overtime and his timesheets were changed after he submitted them. 

With that in mind, it is not a surprise that other current city employees are hesitant to come forward with information they may have. In this community, it seems whistleblowing and transparency are protected in name, but not practice.  

The allegations of retaliation for whistleblowing come a week after the Optic was told all media requests for city employees must go through the city manager’s office or the mayor’s office. This is not an official city policy, just a way for Interim City Manager Anne Marie Gallegos and Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron to try to control who talks to the press. 

All city employees need to know they can talk to whoever they want whenever they want. Their bosses are unable to stop them from coming forward with information to anyone. 

At this point, the City of Las Vegas government has reached a boiling point. The City Council refuses to cooperate with the mayor. Nothing is being accomplished and something needs to change. There may be a city employee with vital information that could lead to some sort of conclusion. They should feel free to come forward with this information without fear of retaliation. 

This city deserves a chance to move forward and start healing. Eventually something has to break in this case, and every bit of information could be key in allowing that to happen.  

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