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COSA wins in Foddrill case


The jury came down in favor of the City of San Antonio in John Foddrill's whistleblower case, answering "no" to the question: Did John Foddrill make a good-faith report of a violation of law?

I'm not surprised, I'm sorry to say, not because expensive hijinks weren't taking place in the Information Technology Services Department, but because plaintiff's attorney Malinda Gaul seemed to be having a difficult time putting a complicated case together in a cohesive way for the jury. The City's defense team, on the other hand, was much more concise and aggressive in its arguments. As is often the case, Foddrill wasn't always a model employee, especially once his department began to respond negatively to his complaints of mismanagement by reassigning him and undermining his management authority -- but an old (Gene Wilder? Groucho Marx?) quip might apply by analogy here: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

More to the point now: What will happen to the current COSA employees that testified on Foddrill's behalf, i.e., that he was a good manager (from a woman who competed for the job he landed), that he was a more than competent colleague, that other employees committed the same mistakes or oversights that Foddrill committed, but weren't fired or even reprimanded for them. Off-the-record conversations with other current employees suggest that the department still has serious mismanagement issues, but the likelihood that someone will take the risk of speaking out just diminished substantially.

Also disturbing: the precedent set by some of the City's arguments and witnesses, which you can find listed in short form here. In short: forget your dad's ol' walks-like-a-duck, talks-like-a-duck advice.

Mind you, I'm not picking on the jury; they can only work with the pieces of the story they're given, and certainly there were times during the portions of the trial I attended that I felt frustration on their behalf; this wasn't exactly a glamor trial, and the details could be numbing -- eyes wandered, a head or two nodded -- during the first day Judge Arteaga encouraged the jury off the record to use the afternoon break to seek out caffeine.

If you were interested in seeing how a municipality cleans up after itself, on the other hand, it was fascinating. If you see something, don't say something.

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