City workers do `charity work’ on public’s dime

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsAll these “volunteers” did private business on public time with their bosses’ approval. But because the city doesn’t actually have any standards for monitoring such practices, we can’t know for sure how many taxpayer hours were lost. For that matter, we can’t even know for sure that the city workers actually showed up for their “volunteer” duty and didn’t just use the opportunity to cash in on a free holiday. And because the city has no protocols for deciding which charities should benefit from the taxpayers’ largesse this way, there’s no way to ensure that favoritism didn’t play a role. Are all charities eligible for free assistance, or just those with high-profile events led by ex-presidents? Yes, one can argue – as various city officials already have – that these workers contributed to a worthy cause, and that’s all that should matter. But there are a lot of worthy causes that taxpayers might wish to support, and not least among them is the legitimate business of the city of Los Angeles. City leaders swear this “volunteer” work won’t affect the city’s bottom line – no essential duties were affected. But such statements only confirm what we’ve long suspected: There are far too many people in city government doing too little work as it is. Few private-sector businesses could afford to lose 14 employees from one office for a day or more and not be seriously affected. Perhaps the city employees who are so unburdened by their jobs that they can feel free to “volunteer” their paid time elsewhere should “volunteer” to remove themselves from the public payroll. Then they really would be doing the public a service, without costing the public a dime.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! `TIS the season for volunteering. Each November, as Thanksgiving stirs our hearts to gratitude, many of us turn to service to others, offering time, treasure and talent for those who are less fortunate. Throughout Los Angeles, and especially here in the San Fernando Valley, we know a thing or two about volunteering. But it’s nothing like the sort of “volunteering” that’s been taking place out of City Hall. No, the sort of volunteering we’re familiar with entails giving up one’s time or money for the joy of lending a hand to those who need one. But City Hall’s style of “volunteering” is altogether different. It involves the highest-paid municipal workers in the nation leaving city work undone and putting in time (allegedly) at a charitable site, while drawing their taxpayer salaries for their efforts. In late October, when former President Jimmy Carter came to Los Angeles to promote a Habitat for Humanity Project in South L.A., some 31 employees of the city’s Housing Department ditched work – but were still paid – to lend a hand. So did 14 members of City Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s staff. last_img