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Metro Tip Line Opens Thursday

An ethics tip line for reporting alleged wrongdoing in Metro Government goes online tomorrow Thursday.

The toll-free line is operated by a third party, which maintains anonymity and files regular reports to Metro Government.

The tip line cost about 25 thousand dollars to set up and will cost about 20 thousand dollars each year to maintain. It’s the result of one of the two reform ordinances passed by the Metro Council in April. The other was e-transparency legislation to put city documents and spending reports online.

Metro Councilman Kevin Kramer sponsored the tip line legislation. He says Mayor Jerry Abramson’s office fought him on the ordinance at first.

“We were told by the administration that this really wasn’t necessary,” says Kramer. “We insisted on moving forward with it, pointed out the problems with the opportunities that supposedly people could’ve called in the information and pointed to times when the tip line would’ve been effective.”

Kramer says his next goal is to pass a revised ethics code for government employees.

“We still need to do some work, truthfully, on the ethics ordinance itself so that the public is more aware of what the expectation is of those who are elected and those who work for city government,” he says.

Republican Metro Councilman Ken Fleming is currently working on an ethics ordinance.

The tip line’s number is 1-888-226-2264.

Previously on WFPL: Group starts alternative tip line

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Group Starts Alternative Tip Line

A south Louisville activist group called Stop Invisible Taxes has set up an ethics tip line for Metro Government. The group sees the service as an alternative to the city’s soon-to-be-established official tip line.

A contract for the city tip line will be awarded by July 1st. It will be operated by a third party and proponents say it will be nonpartisan and anonymous.

Paul Holliger with the Stop I.T. group says he doesn’t trust the city to fairly handle the government tip line. He won’t reveal his tip line’s benefactor, and he says people will just have to trust his service more than the city’s.

“There’s going to be a number of government employees that’ll be perfectly comfortable using the government tip line. More power to them,” he says. “If that is their level of comfort than who I am to say that they’re decision is incorrect? We are an alternative. We can’t force anybody to use us, we can’t force anybody to trust us.”

Holliger says calls to his line will be investigated and reported to the proper authorities.

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Tip Line Ordinance Clears Committee

The Louisville Metro Council Oversight Committee has approved an ordinance that calls for the creation of a tip line to report allegations of wrongdoing in Metro Government. It goes before the full council in two weeks.

If the legislation passes, it will allow the city to partner with a third party to establish the tip line.

Ordinance sponsor Kevin Kramer says a third party line is preferable because it is staffed by experienced call screeners who can protect caller anonymity and weed out frivolous and baseless claims.

“If you only take 14 calls, it’s hard for a person who only takes that number of calls to get any experience. So a third party tip line, where this is what they do, the persons who are sitting at the phone, this is their experience and they have a good deal more,” he says.

Mayor Abramson has said he will support the ordinance if the tip line is indeed secure. Committee co-chair Kelly Downard says one possible obstacle to passage is the tip line’s annual cost of about $20,000.

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Mayor Says He'll Support Tip Line

A Metro Council committee will review an ordinance this week that calls for the creation of a tip-line for Metro Government employees to report wrongdoing.

Mayor Jerry Abramson says he’s had concerns about establishing a tip-line but will support the ordinance if callers can truly remain anonymous and employees can be protected from frivolous complaints. Both of those shields, he says, are already provided by the city’s ethics panel and police tip line.

“The question becomes, ‘What’s in between?’ And whatever those are that the council wants to respond to, that’s fine,” he says. “We’ll support that effort and see how it works.”

Councilman Ken Fleming is sponsoring the ordinance, which he says calls for an outside party to operate the tip line, so employees wouldn’t be reporting wrongdoing to a fellow city worker.

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Tip Line Ordinance In Committee

The Louisville Metro Council’s Oversight Committee will review legislation next week that would create a government employee tip line.

The ordinance calls for the creation of a phone line to report malfeasance.

A similar effort faced criticism from the Mayor’s office because of the potential for frivolous calls and concerns over the protection of callers’ anonymity. Ordinance sponsor Kevin Kramer says hiring a third party to manage the line eliminates those problems.

“We’ve talked to 20-plus cities who have tip lines. Many of them, or most of them, with third party tip lines. And that’s one of the first questions we ask them is, ‘Do you get a lot of bogus phone calls, people complaining about some violation that’s not legitimate?’ And overwhelmingly the answers come back that no, that’s not been a big deal.”

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office says the administration supports the establishment of a tip line. It’s expected to cost about $10,000 per year.