The Ethics Hotline and Whistleblower Protection
The Ethics Director processes all complaints coming into the office based upon this procedure: Intake and Overview Procedure.
Completed cases are open as public records. Prior to that, no comment will be made other than "The Ethics, Compliance and Oversight Office does not make comments on situations until a case is closed and the files are public records, nor do we confirm or deny if we are working on a matter."
Florida Supreme Court Case on Whistleblower Protection for Employees
How confidential is the hotline? Can someone get my phone number if I call it?
The hotline phone is not connected to the City of Jacksonville's phone system. It has been set up so the phone number of the person calling the Hotline is not recorded or announced. The hotline phone is in the office of the city's ethics officer. When she is not in the office, it forwards to a cell phone that is kept personally by her assistant. This cell phone was also set up so that incoming phone numbers are not recorded in any way. (This took some time as phone companies are not used to people working to remove features!)
Who will answer the hotline if I call?
If the Ethics Officer is in the office when you call, she will answer the line and talk to you. If she is not, the phone call may be answered by her assistant or go to a message system if it is after hours. You can call the hotline, and if you get a message or the ethics assistant, you can arrange an appointment time to call back and talk to the ethics officer. You can do this without leaving your name. For example, if you call and get the ethics assistant, ask when the ethics officer will be available for a hotline call back. A time will be set up for you to call back and the ethics officer will be sure to answer the hotline number at that time.
Will my call be kept confidential?
If you have concerns about your identity being known, do not state your name or phone number on a message or to anyone you talk to when you call the hotline. Then talk to the ethics officer about the protection you have under Florida law. If you then chose to not disclose your name, it does make it more difficult to investigate any claims or complaints. There is whistleblower protection under Florida law. (See whistleblower information.)
Are there other ways to get information to the ethics officer?
Yes, you can send a letter to Carla Miller, Ethics Officer, City Hall, 117 West Duval St., Suite 450, Jacksonville, Florida 32202. You can also slip a note/letter under the door—room 450 Ethics Office on the fourth floor of City Hall, but this is not the best way as someone can step on it!