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'Alley Cat' Ethics and Other Antics

By       Message Linn Washington     Permalink
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opednews.com Headlined to H2 2/9/11

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The ethics reforms Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter implemented recently covering most workers in that city's perennially corruption-plagued government has a curious gap: there is no measure prohibiting retaliation.

Could that have anything do with a federal lawsuit that names the Mayor as principal defendant alleging that Nutter engaged in retaliation against a city employee who helped expose corruption in press?

This federal civil rights lawsuit accuses Mayor Nutter of sacking a city employee who alerted a Philadelphia Daily News reporter about corruption within that city's Police Department -- long a cesspool of corruption and brutality.

The resulting series of articles about the rampant corruption within a squad of narcotics cops resulted in the Daily News winning a Pulitzer Prize last year.

The plaintiff in that lawsuit, Wellington Stubbs, is formerly the chief inspector for Philadelphia's civilian police review agency. Stubbs alleges that Nutter initiated retaliatory actions against him because of his directing a police informant whistleblower to the Daily News. Those actions eventually "forced" Stubbs to resign in November 2009.

Nutter, the suit alleges, was angered that Stubbs had directed that police informant to a reporter at the Daily News. That informant had initially approached Stubbs' review agency but he was fearful of physical harm from the corrupt cops.

A top aide to Nutter allegedly told Stubbs in February 2009 that "The Mayor is very upset with you about this and it is going to cost the City a lot of money," according to allegations contained in Stubbs' lawsuit. The case has yet to go to trial.

The discharge of Stubbs, the lawsuit charges, was "retaliation" for Stubbs making good faith reports of "wrongdoing and waste."

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Nutter's ethics reform impacting 87% of Philadelphia municipal workforce bars nepotism and political fund raising in city owned facilities like box seats at sports stadiums but barring retaliation is not among the provisions.

Ironies abound in the pending case Stubbs filed last summer.

The review agency where Stubbs once worked, the Police Advisory Commission, is an entity created in the mid-1990s by Nutter himself when he served on Philadelphia's City Council.

Then Councilman Nutter beat back stiff opposition to that long-sought abuse monitoring agency from the city's police union, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and from the city's then Mayor Ed Rendell, a liberal Democrat who just finished serving two terms as Pennsylvania's Governor.

That lawsuit filed by Stubbs added another wrinkle recently when Nutter's name surfaced in a controversy over the resume of a ranking Philadelphia police commander at the center of a dirty employment discrimination scandal that lead to a federal jury's issuing a $10-million verdict two years ago.

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It was the largest such verdict in history against the Philadelphia Police Department and it grew out of an episode of retaliation.

The police commander in question, William Colarulo, listed Nutter among eight references on his resume for a police chief position in suburban Radnor Township.

But a Nutter spokesman said the Mayor's Office had "no official request on record" from Colarulo for such a reference.

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Linn Washington is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and This Can't Be Happening. Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and failings of the news media. He teaches multi-media urban (more...)
 

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