How Can We Make The Case For Public Employees If This Is How Some Conduct Themselves?—Houston Public Works Staff Need To Get To Work Just As We Need To Fight For The Role Of Government
A recent Houston Chronicle article discussed the large numbers of City of Houston employees who have been disciplined or fired for poor conduct on the job.
“While working on the taxpayers’ dime, Houston’s Public Works employees have smoked pot, driven drunk, packed guns, falsified meter readings and stolen scrap metal, not to mention lunching leisurely for hours at Memorial Park. The infractions are so prevalent that the City of Houston Public Works and Engineering Department …Disciplined employees overall represent 21 percent of all the people who have worked in the department since 2006….Some 560 utility workers, laborers, truck drivers and inspectors have been indefinitely suspended, or essentially fired during the six years. At least 240 have received “decision-making leaves” or temporary suspensions, and 1,170 were given warnings.”
I’m an advocate of public employment and of a clear role for government in society. I know that many share my view.
This is why we need to be upfront and transparent when our people screw-up. Tax dollars are the fruits of our labors. We work hard to send tax dollars to City Hall. We have every right to expect that they will be used well.
Also, we have every right to ask those who are in the public eye to get stuff right when our pro-government views are at stake in the public debate.
How can we say that government does a good job when public employees are conducting themselves in such a manner?
The other thing is that where do these folks think they will find work and benefits after they lose a city job?
It is hard enough to find full-time work with benefits. It is even more difficult to find such work when you were fired from your last job for bad conduct.
When you are paid with taxpayer dollars, you have an obligation to work hard.
When your conduct on the job will impact the climate regarding public workers all across the nation, you have an obligation to work hard.
Most public employees do a good job. Yet it is human nature that people will focus on those who do a bad job to the exclusion of those who do a good job.
The foes of public employment are relentless. They want privatized workers with no benefits.
We can’t live like that as a society.
The actions of others are beyond our control.
Our actions are within our control.
I’d ask public employees to please do a good job.
And I’d ask those who believe in the value of government to demand good work from government employees, and to match that good work with our own advocacy and support.