GAP is proud to announce a major event honoring and showcasing whistleblowers this coming Wednesday, February 17, in New York City. This entertaining evening will feature celebrities and legendary whistleblowers whose heroism has put criminals behind bars and saved countless lives. It will provide an uplifting message of what is needed for whistleblowers to continue safeguarding the public, and what actions you can take to support pending corporate whistleblower legislation.
Complaints of poor Marine mental health care at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina will be investigated by the Defense Department following a request from a North Carolina Congressman. The Congressman asked for the investigation following the release of documents pertaining to the September firing of a brain trauma specialist who worked as a contractor at Camp Lejuene and had made internal complaints about the facilities, quality of care, and poor security. Salon.com, which had originally reported on the firing, last week released the documents, which showed Camp Lejeune officials had changed the psychiatrist's performance evaluations from good to poor after he made the complaints.
During a 2007 investigation, federal regulators found that a significant amount of Toyotas accelerated without warning, but apparently couldn’t pinpoint the problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Board Administration (NHTSA) eventually concluded the problem only affected a small amount of cars and did not inform consumers, despite the fact that they found at least three out of every hundred Lexus (a Toyota brand) owners in Ohio were experiencing the unwanted acceleration.
Does that sound like a significant amount? You bet.
According to the reports, Skinner and Jannarone decided to transfer the aging firetruck after a vacation together in the Dominican Republic to attend a friend's bachelor party. Officials are alarmed that Skinner, a fraternity brother of Mayor Fenty, seems to have made city procurement decisions and had control over taxpayer resources.
"What makes the transaction so incredible is the fact that so much effort -- at the highest levels of District government -- was expended to facilitate a transfer of surplus property without even a hint of potential benefit for the District government," said a report by the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment. "Rather, the entire affair was merely the pet project -- even if well intentioned -- of a senior District official and a well-connected non-government individual."
The government operations committee also accused Skinner of taking $11,000 from the mayor of the Dominican Republic town for transporation, only depositing some of the money and spending the rest.
Skinner failed to show up before a city council hearing for the second time in a row on Wednesday.
This incident is only the most recent in many controversies surrounding the DC Fire Department. GAP is currently representing two department whistleblowers, former Captain Vanessa Coleman and former General Counsel Teresa Cusick.
Vanessa Coleman, former Captain with the Fire Department and a 19-year veteran of the force, was recently fired from her position as a result of blowing the whistle on wrongful actions taken against her by Department officials. She had been steadily retaliated against since March 2008, stemming from the fallout of the Mt. Pleasant apartment fire in Washington, D.C. Despite a history beginning as a fire cadet in 1990, with subsequent promotions to Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain, and annual performance reviews greater than “satisfactory,” Coleman has been singled out by department officials and made to bear the blame for the problems stemming from the fire. During the fire, Coleman was directed away from the basement of the apartment building to the third floor. This diversion was later found to be of great importance, as fire officials now believe the fire originated in the basement. Despite an audio recording proving that a Battalion chief John Lee ordered Coleman and her crew to the third floor, Coleman was continually retaliated against.
Theresa Cusick was forced out of her position as General Counsel for the Fire Department by Fire Chief Dennis Rubin after speaking out about an Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation of another D.C. fire official. Despite nine years with the D.C. Fire Department, Cusick was transferred by Chief Rubin only two months into his administration, forced to take a pay cut and move into a non-legal position.
GAP recently produced a video about the flagrant retaliation against Theresa Cusick in the DC Fire Department. Here’s the video.
Other scandals facing Chief Rubin recently include a fire safety demonstration at Gallaudet University that went wrong when a plexiglass curtain melted and fell on firefighters, sending one firefighter to the hospital with burns on his hands and face. Rubin’s comments after the event infuriated the union that represents local firefighters, who stated publicly that Mayor Adrian Fenty and the D.C. Council should reprimand Rubin for failing to follow multiple safety procedures while personally organizing the event.
Rubin also faced criticism earlier this year after the house of a well-known community leader and arts patron burned down when firefighters could not get an adequate amount of water from hydrants. Later, the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary concluded the water problem was due to a lack of preparation on the part of the Fire Department.
This gross failure of an airline security checkpoint is echoed by the whistleblower case of GAP client Bogdan Dzakovic, former leader of the FAA Red Team, whose job was to expose weak links in airport screening, and smuggle fake weapons/guns on board airplane. His team’s success rate was over 90%. His story of speaking out about these massive flaws in the system, and the retaliation he suffered, are chronicled on a previous episode of GAP’s TV show, Whistle Where You Work.
A physician and a community hospital in Minnesota agreed to pay almost $850,000 after another doctor blew the whistle on fraudulently billing of Medicare for "unreasonable and unnecessary" hospitalizations. Under a federal law, the whistleblower received $203,150.
A Marine Corps whistleblower says military officials are trying to force him from his job for exposing failures to deliver lifesaving equipment to troops in Iraq.
Franz Gayl, a senior civilian employee, alleges a series of punitive actions that underscore the challenges President Barack Obama faces in fulfilling a campaign pledge to treat federal whistleblowers as patriots instead of pariahs.