Critic of comptroller's office seeks whistleblower protection
'Story in Haaretz led to sanctions against me.'
Dr. Michal Dachoach Halevi, reviewing director in the local government review division of the State Comptroller's Office, is asking State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss - for the first time in the history of the Office - to grant her a writ of protection, which he grants by law to whistleblowers in the bodies he reviews. Last Friday Haaretz reported that Dachoach Halevi complained to the Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court that Tamar Manes, her superior in the local government review division, decided to shelve a very grave report as a result of a personal conflict between the two women, and in order to prevent Dachoach Halevi from receiving credit for the report and cause her to fail.
The report dealt with the joint construction of a hotel by the Ashdod municipality and a private entrepreneur, in violation of the rules of proper administration. Dachoach Halevi claims that the conclusions were expected to have broad implications for many local councils in the country, because they would establish rules about the business relationships of local authorities and businessmen. In addition, Dachoach Halevi turned last week to State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, asking for an investigation of the State Comptroller's Office, because, she claims, her superiors distorted legal proceedings and concealed important documents that could help her in her suit.
Dachoach Halevi claims that on Sunday, after the publication in Haaretz, her access to files in the department's computer was blocked, and she was asked to move out of her room to a room outside the department. The comptroller's office said on Tuesday in the wake of the request for a writ of protection, that Dachoach Halevi's request would be examined, and that until the investigation's completion, there would be no change whatsoever regarding her. It added that there was no basis for the claim that the report was shelved because of a personal conflict, and that as opposed to Dachoach Halevi's claim, the State Comptroller's Office is in the midst of a review of Ashdod, which among other things deals with subjects whose investigation she said had been discontinued.
Regarding the claim that her report was shelved, the comptroller's office also said that it had replied to the labor court that, " there was nothing wrong with Manes' behavior and that Manes, who is in charge of Dachoach Halevi and of review of the Ashdod municipality, has the full confidence of the State Comptroller's Office."
The comptroller's office also rejected the claim that documents connected to the review were destroyed, and said that the office will send a detailed reply to the court. Attorneys Gil Dachoach and Galit Rotenberg, who are representing Dachoach Halevi, said in reply that, "Immediately, on the first workday after the report in Haaretz, our client began to experience sanctions on the part of her director, which included removing her from her office and blocking computer access to the department's library. This leads to a heavy suspicion that her status as a senior employee in the State Comptroller's Office and her working conditions have been damaged and, and therefore there our client had no alternative but to turn to the state comptroller, in his role as ombudsman, despite the fact that she was aware of the anomaly existing in the law, which in effect requires the state comptroller to consider issuing a writ of protection against senior employees in his own office. Our client is certain that the state controller will not permit a continuation of internal sanctions against her, but she has turned to the legally authorized instances with a request to open an investigation."
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