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Newport whistleblower policy follows employee investigation

Following a recent investigation regarding possible disciplinary actions against an unnamed Newport city employee, the City Council approved a whistleblower ordinance.

The language included in the city’s employee personnel policy mirrors the state policy which says no discipline shall be imposed upon an employee who, in good faith, reports a violation to any government body or law enforcement official.

To narrow the scope of the law further, City Council member Steve Gallagher, who proposed the ordinance, added city council members as acceptable persons to which an employee can report a violation.

“I wanted to make sure the employees knew that they were protected and could talk to us,” Gallagher said in an interview. “The state law specifically states the legislative auditor but didn’t include city council members. I want to make sure that they know they can talk to a city council member if (an employee believes) something is going on or something’s not right.”

Mayor Tim Geraghty, who questioned if a duplicate policy needed to be implemented in Newport, was the lone dissenting vote.

“There is no reason not to (implement this ordinance),” said City Attorney Fritz Knaak. “There is always an argument against redundancy, but in this certain situation it’s probably not a bad idea.”