Hours and Time

Throughout this whole Sam Harris issue, he and those who would defend him have constantly argued that what he did, he did on his own computer and his "own time." ("Any allegation that I did this on office time is ridiculous," Harris said. "I can account for my hours.") That made me start thinking about just what is one's "own time" in a salary situation.

I am thinking not just with reference to JP Harris, but public servants in general. What are we, the public, entitled to expect from them in terms of devotion to their jobs? What accountability, if any, do they owe us for the money they receive?

I am paid on a salary. As a general rule, I come in before 9:00 each day, leave about 6:00, and work at least some time on the weekends and once in a while at night as needed. I leave work occasionally to attend functions for my kids (although I have never run home during the middle of the afternoon to post messages on an internet bulletin board). But, and this is a big but, I am accountable only to my partners.

Are government employees different? Do they have some increased level of accountability, or are they entitled to the same flexibility that I am?

I would like some input from comments on this issue. What do you think? If this is a topic of interest/concern then I have some additional information I could research to see whether someone is acting on his or her "own time." A worthwhile endeavor?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In general, I expect a public servant, such as a judge, to work the way I do. That is, get the job done. If he can do it efficiently, and have free time, that is fine. I like having the liberty to read blogs, post comments, and send stupid e-mails to my friends from the office. (GG knows that I do that a lot). In general, I would not have a problem with Sam Harris, or any other judge, doing the same. Justice Court used to run pretty smoothly with part time judges, even with the workload of seeing felony cases for the District Court, so there should be time to be a judge, and do other things.

I think that, in this whole matter, the time issue becomes relevant, but not because Judge Harris did some game activity on the clock. Rather, it is the context.

He set the standard very high by his accusations against Judge Smartt. That alone would subject him to claims of hypocrisy. And, he was responsible for creating net use rules for the county that were not previously in effect, so he needs to live by those rules.

More importantly, in my view, he gave insight into how he uses his time. Spending hours a day, day in and day out, in mock killing fields, is disturbing, and sounds like a rather morbid addiction. It is hard to understand how he could devote so much time to the game, regardless of time spent posting, or what he posted, without shortchanging his work, family or sleep. Something had to give.

If the time spent on a game adversely affected his work, it was wrong. If it adversly affected his family, it was wrong. If it took time from being able to sleep, it probably affected everything. He certainly used poor judgment in putting his comments out on the web at all hours.

Roland Durocher