Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Whistle-Blowing - Keep it in Perspective
by pam ashlund

I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it! -- Howard Beale during his nervous breakdown, Network, 1976

I've blogged about whistleblowing, about fraud detection, about Enron, about Sarbanes Oxley...for gods sake I've blogged about blogging! I've pondered the subject from many an angle and then...I lost interest.

Why? Because there's only so much to say. Hey, somebody does something wrong, somebody else tells on them. Then? Well, either the wrong doer gets their just desserts...or? they kill the messenger. Time to start looking for a new job tattle tale!

I guess the whole topic bores me because so much is just lip service. It is so easy to get everybody to sign a code of ethics or post an 800# whistleblower line. What ISN'T easy is to actually be ethical...and no amount of policy is going to make that happen.

Everyone knows that with a little collusion all manners of fraud go undetected. So what are corporate leaders to do? Hire a bunch of narcs?

Oh who knows if my years of experience amount to anything, but something a wise friend told me makes a lot of sense. He said you don't learn ethics you're born with it. And he said there are some people (like me) who really can't choose, they HAVE to do what's right.

I don't know exactly what comes first, values, honor, sense of duty, ethics, honesty, responsibility. I don't know how you get them, how you learn them. But I do know alot about how to teach them. You just look someone in the eye and you tell them you value them, and then you tell them what you expect of them. It's some kind of miracle, but it never fails. People just have to live up the bar you set for them. On the other hand, if you are shifty eyed and you say it with a wink or a smirk, or you set a hypocritical bar, they'll see through you faster than you can say "liar".

That is why (you knew all this was going to lead SOMEWHERE right?)...That is why, coming across the "whistleblower" hotline on "Mayor Sams" blog was SUCH a breath of fresh air.

Here's the accompanying text:

Do you have insider information to share? Call us or email your gossip, rumors
and stories of shady government corruption. Anonymity guaranteed.
Wow, it is all so clear now. With all the shackles of having to prove your allegation removed...poof! you can report whatever you want. Gossip! Rumors! Stories! What freedom!

Alright, all I can say is this: at least I amuse myself!


The blogs namesake is the late Mayor Sam Yorty. The actual authors write behind a cloak of anonymity.

The real (late) Sam, was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1909. Moved to LA to study law after high school. Worked with the DWP, later served in the State Legislature, was in World War II, served as a lawyer, went back to the Assembly, then Congress. Ran for many seats and lost but eventually became Mayor of LA in 1961. Served until 1973 when beat by Tom Bradley. Hosted a TV show, a radio show, appeared in movies and TV shows - even once with Lucille Ball! Ran for governor, US President and one more time for Mayor in 1981. Died in 1998 at his home in Studio City. Not a bad run. Not bad at all.

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