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Friday, February 10, 2006

Stung by Solitaire

Is anyone else really pissed off at Mayor Mike for this move? From today's NYTimes:
Edward Greenwood IX was fired Jan. 30 from his job as an assistant in the city's lobbying office in Albany, not long after the mayor spied the game on his computer screen during a Jan. 4 visit to the state capital.

Mr. Greenwood, 39, said he was dismissed with no notice, and no severance pay, after working there for six years. He earned about $27,000 a year for duties that included sending legislative bills to city agencies and copying and circulating office memos.

Mr. Bloomberg confirmed yesterday that Mr. Greenwood's firing offense was the game of solitaire, saying that city employees were not paid to play at the workplace. The firing was first reported yesterday by The New York Post.

"I expect all city workers — including myself — to work hard," Mayor Bloomberg said during a news conference in Midtown Manhattan. "There's nothing wrong with taking a break but during the business day at your desk, that's not appropriate behavior."

Now, I'm not disagreeing that it totally sucks to have the big boss find out you've been playing solitaire on the job. I can't say "come on, everybody does it" about solitaire per se, because playing solitaire as a time-wasting pasttime has, in my experience, been replaced by the post-millenial time-wasting pasttime of blogging, reading blogs, general websurfing, and IM'ing. And who doesn't engage in one of those activities at work at some time or another? I see all my readers' hits from my sitemeter, and unless a large chunk of my readership actually live in various and sundry law firms, corporations, small businesses, and even (gasp) a varied representation of government offices all over the United States - I know that Greenwood isn't alone. And even if he was the only one unlucky enough to actually get caught, is this a proper response on Bloomberg's part? I appreciate the mayor's take-no-prisoners approach when it comes to playing tough with the Transit Workers Union, for example, but this is just too much. Why make an example of this guy when he has been at the job for so long? He wasn't even caught in the act of playing solitaire - it just happened to be on his screen when it was seen by the mayor:
Mr. Greenwood said yesterday that he always finished his work in a timely fashion, and that he played solitaire only when there was nothing else left to do, usually a few times a week or during lunch breaks.

"Any and all work I had to do, I did with a passion," he said. "If I have a stack of things to be done, I'm not the kind of guy to put it off."

Mr. Greenwood said that he had left the solitaire game on his computer while going to pick up tickets for the mayor and other city officials to attend the governor's annual address to the state. When he returned, Mr. Greenwood said, the mayor had arrived and was posing for pictures with other office workers.

I mean, can anyone really argue that an employee's playing a mindless game of solitaire while eating lunch - or even on a business phone call - is an offense that calls for the perpetrator's termination? I know I can't. This sucks. It sucks for Greenwood, and it sucks for the mayor. Because my opinion of him has changed, and I'll bet I'm not the only one.

30 Comments:

Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"Because my opinion of him has changed, and I'll bet I'm not the only one."

Not me. not a hair. Mike bllomberg, forget he's mayor for a second, is being the boss he always has been.

Remember. This guy is a known ball-breaker. People just forget because he has to politely banter with the press nowadays. But he sure is no mr. nice guy.

And he sure is a damn good mayor. I'll bet this token firing has low-level time wasters everywhere in city government thinking twice before goofing off.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

I don't know who "Mike bllomberg" is.
I'm talking about Mike Bloomberg.

1:59 PM  
Blogger swiftthinker said...

I always feel bad for an underdog who becomes a poster boy for something just for being somewhere or doing something at the wrong time.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

in yeshiva, they call it "making someone a korban."

2:21 PM  
Blogger MUST Gum Addict said...

I have a rather large client and am always blown away that whenever I pass by the big boss' office, Solitaire is ALWAYS on his screen. In fact, I can't remember a single time that it wasn't. Either he has this incredible security software so that people see solitaire but he really sees spreadsheets, or he just plays games all day. Hmmm... I think that if you knew who the client was (not the boss, the company), you might not be surprised... :)

2:34 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

This guy is most definitely a 'korban". I understand that the mayor is making an example of him, but that's exactly what I object to. The punishment is not commensurate with the "crime", and the (doubtful) benefit of scaring some city workers (who are not exactly known for their industry) into focusing more on work is not a large enough benefit, imho.

2:45 PM  
Blogger DovBear said...

Bloomberg was dead wrong; believe me that guy can probably do his 27,000/year job and play solitaire at the same time.

And OM, when you were listing the ways we waste time in 2006, you forgot Partypoker.com. I know many lawyers, bankers and brokers who play a few hands during boring conference calls.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

Unfortunately this decisive personnel action doesn't do anything about what is really the biggest time-water in the corporate, government, and business world.

I am, of course, referring to staff meetings.

I'll bet Mayor Bloomberg's are real productive.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Q said...

I posted an article on this with just the subject as: "Bloomberg is an A Hole".

3:52 PM  
Blogger StepIma said...

I think it was a rotten thing to do.

If it was the solitaire game that came with Windows, then it should have been deinstalled from the city's machines in the first place if he was so against it. They can also upload software to keep games from being installed. There was no need for this - he could have given a warning and taken away the game, end of story.

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure there have been studies showing that breaks increase productivity, while being forced to do repetitive tasks without recourse to any outside mental stimulation leads to declines... (jack = dull boy, et al) at any rate, I know I'd fall apart at work without my gazillion web diversions

(Note to boss: I have no web diversions)

8:52 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

What a story! I think it is a bit disheartning. All but the huge tzadikim do some personal things at work, anything from a call to the bank, a call to their kid's school or sitter, or a mindless game. I know it is a bit embarrassing to be caught taking care of personal business, but I have yet to see someone fired because they called their bank.

If his job performance was good, I think it would have been appropriate to give the benefit of the doubt and a warning. But, firing!?! Well, hopefully this man will find a hire paying job and everything will be for the best.

11:31 PM  
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11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloomberg should be fired for abuse of power.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous REReader said...

On the other hand...my mother, who has several friends who are city employees, read the article and said, "Hooray! I hope they crack down on all the time-wasting in the city government!" From which (and her following comments) I gather that her friends do precious little work at work, and neither do their colleagues, and we pay for that.

I don't know that I agree with firing just the one scapegoat, though. Spread the wealth.

12:28 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

What everyone who thinks that this will teach a lesson to city workers doesn't realize, is that most city workers, aside from this unlucky fellow, are unionized, and cannot be fired for such offenses. So I doubt most government workers who have been slacking up until now will be doing so any less. This will not teach anyone anything - except that the mayor made a bad call.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly. Do we want people wasting time? No. Was this guy such a bad offender? No way. Does this actually send a meaningful message? No. Is Bloomberg a jerk? Yes.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Ottis said...

What if he had been playing freecell? Would hizonner have taken a more lenient approach?

5:01 PM  
Blogger Ger Tzadik said...

The worst kind of boss. One who thinks he can control people's behavior by exterting his power into the smallest places of work. Intead of creating a solid workforce, he will create one who people who know how to skate by effectively. People who know how to get things done, and want to be creative will stay away like the plague is stored there.

Good job, Mr. Mayor.

1:42 AM  
Blogger Pragmatician said...

Does it ever occur to the big bosses, that employees are sometimes stuck, that they can't continue working until after that fax arrives, that until the printer is filled with paper and ink again they just can't continue?
And if nothing else, that sometimes a human being needs a short break, 5 minutes here 5 minutes there?
I'm appalled at his reaction!

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Essie said...

Everyone needs a break! He definitely should have only been given a warning. Like the others have said - you can be waiting for a fax or for the printer, or on a call with a client who drones...

9:12 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I always wondered if the lurkers on my blog from the US State Department and US Military were there for entertainment purposes during their working hours, or if they were lurking "on business" to see what subversive info they could find on a blog named "Muqata."

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but everybody's dping it mom.....

only 5 year olds and teens think this is a good reason

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloomberg wasted far more of his work time on campaign events last year than 10 people playing solitaire. Let him give the city its dollar back.

3:35 PM  
Blogger The Hedyot said...

Bloomberg's zero-tolerance policies are ridiculous. I was the victim of another of his ridiculous edicts. See here.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous charliehall said...

Well, I didn't vote for him, and I'm now glad I don't work for the city. I think that overall he has been a pretty good mayor, though.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloomberg is slime in every way, and should be put in prison for the evil viciousness with which he treats people. Dump him, take all his money (he didn't really work for it, and certainly doesn't deserve it), and give the guy he fired the mayor's job.

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