Editorial: What is Denver’s council trying to hide?

The Denver Gazette: You couldn’t put a cork in some Denver City Council members when they hold forth on the issues of the day, which is as it should be — even if it tries the public’s patience at times. So, why does the council seem to fear its own staff’s ability to speak up, as well?

As reported by The Gazette, some council members are balking at Denver Auditor Tim O’Brien’s very reasonable insistence that interviews of council staff members in a pending audit of council operations be conducted without their bosses nosing in. O’Brien points out unrestricted interviews are required by Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, which must be followed under the Denver Charter. He said the audit standards require interviews to be held under conditions in which people may speak freely.

Makes sense. Auditors couldn’t do their job if a staffer felt intimidated by the presence of a boss. Think of a council member or the member’s chief of staff disrupting an interview with, “what she meant to say was…” — just as the audit team was about to uncover something dicey or simply embarrassing. Talk about a chilling effect on whistleblowers.

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