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City Hall Should Be Off Limits For Campaigns

Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010

It seems reasonable to ask city employees and elected officials to conduct city business at city hall, and to likewise conduct personal and political business elsewhere.

More than just a reasonable request, this separation of public service and politicking is the law -- one that is debated at length during the campaign season.

A case in point is the city of  Oakland, California, where a resident has filed a complaint with the Oakland Public Ethics Commission regarding a link between a councilmember's Web page and her campaign Web site.

More troubling is the accusation that her staff members were engaging in campaigning on city time, using city computers.

The pervasive nature of social nework sites such as Facebook leads us to forget when and where we are posting an update, uploading photographs, or commenting on an issue.

Some of the employees involved in this investigation say they were making innocent comments, and doing so during their breaks.

For better or for worse, the public believes (and has a right to believe) that when an employee is at City Hall during the workday that the employee is engaging only in the public's business.

I know it's not that easy to separate your personal and professional life. Some days there are emergency calls from the babysitter, or a return call from the doctor's office. But those interruptions should be the exception, not the rule.


Tags: campaigns

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