Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Commissioner's e-mail is a waste of taxpayer money

Canyon County Commissioner Steve Rule forwarded a joke e-mail he received comparing incoming First Lady Michelle Obama to a black widow spider because of a black dress she wore that had a red hourglass-shaped pattern on the front.
Rule’s forwarding of the e-mail has set off a firestorm of protests and even national media coverage. The e-mail also compares Obama to the black widow spider because she is black and has a “wide backside.”
There has been much debate over whether the e-mail is racist. Rule defenders claim the joke merely refers to the dress and not Obama’s race.
Personally, I think it’s pretty ridiculous to suggest the e-mail has nothing to do with race. At worst, it’s a viciously racist e-mail. At its best, it’s a stupid joke on the level of perhaps a high school sophomore.
However, I think there is a larger issue that merits much more concern and debate. Rule sent this e-mail using his county computer.
I have to tell you, like most computer users with an e-mail account, I receive many joke e-mails and conspiracy e-mails and fake rumor e-mails. Usually, if someone sends me one of these e-mails, I automatically dump it into my junk or spam folder. If someone sends me something inappropriate, I’ll respond to that person, asking him or her not to send me any more e-mails.
I give little or no time at all to these e-mails. Here’s why: I work for myself. As a small-business owner, my time is my own. The more time I spend looking at stupid e-mails, the less time I’m spending making money. I simply can’t afford to waste my time with this garbage.
Usually, when I receive such e-mails from friends or former co-workers, I usually think to myself that they’re wasting their employers’ money and time by doing this at work. In fact, my former employer had a strict policy of using company computers and e-mail accounts solely for company business. Eventually, my employer began monitoring e-mail accounts because of abuse.
Turns out Canyon County has a similar policy limiting e-mail use to county business, but it applies only to employees and not elected officials.
But Canyon County taxpayers should be incensed.
Commissioner Rule works for you, the taxpayer. Fiscally conservative voters who favor small government should take great offense at Commissioner Rule using your tax money to send out sophomoric e-mails.
Whether you think the e-mail is racist or not, it’s kind of beside the point. The bigger issue, for me, is what makes Commissioner Rule think it’s OK to send out joke e-mails on the taxpayer dime?

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