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Foddrill v. COSA: Notes on a scandal

Former COSA Telecom Manager John Foddrill's lawsuit against the City for wrongful termination is in its fourth day. The Current has been sitting through most of the proceedings, and watching the City's (quite competent) legal team bend history to its will has prompted a few observations:

Advice for would-be COSA whistleblowers
a. Have an immaculate employment record
b. Conduct the investigation yourself
c. Keep it to yourself**

How to identify the management level of City employees on the witness stand
candid = low-level manager
obfuscatory, with frequent short-term memory lapses = mid-level manager
charming faux candid = top management

Budget Director Peter Zanoni comes across as a pretty idiot savant who can't address minutiae about the budget with any clarity, but seems to be thinking deep thoughts of some sort (mathematical, maybe) inside that Law & Order Central Casting suit and haircut. (Lavender, diagonal power-stripe tie: A no surrender/no retreat response to today's bummer budget news from the City Manager's office?)

Former Municipal Integrity Manager Virginia Quinn gets the Ronald Reagan award for her ability to recall convenient details with razor-sharp clarity (including the sort of hearsay that the defense wouldn't think of tolerating from plaintiff-friendly witnesses) while repeatedly pulling out "I'm sorry I can't recall ..." when inconvenient truths were within grasp.

The testimony so far looks like an unraveled Persian rug, and this audience member is beginning to wonder when plaintiff's attorney Malinda Gaul will begin weaving it into a coherent pattern. But a few key points do appear to be coalescing on both sides of the suit: Other managers in Foddrill's department were reportedly guilty of the same alleged management mistakes used to justify his termination, but they weren't even disciplined, much less fired. COSA, meanwhile, is arguing that Foddrill wasn't the source of the telephone-variable discovery (although Quinn couldn't recall the investigation that tipped her off to it, in some of her most disingenuous-sounding testimony), and even if he was, there really wasn't a problem with using the telephone variable to pay for unrelated expenses as long as they "benefit the entire city." Which apparently even a trophy case does. (I know. I could riff on that for a good 5 minutes, but I'll let you have the fun.)

**Kidding, of course. Email your friendly investigative reporters at the Current: gharman@sacurrent.com, gschwartz@sacurrent.com, ggarcia@sacurrent.com, or ewolff@sacurrent.com



Posted by Elaine Wolff on 2/5/2009 4:01:47 PM
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