When we have too much of something, it may not be a good thing. And that may even include money, mind you. Too much of it could spoil people to the point that they learn new vices, and forget the good virtues they used to have.
Food is also another good and necessary thing that too much of could end up being wasted, and make people insensitive to the plight of so many around the world who suffer from the scarcity of it.
Taking more than what you need is simply wasteful, and indirectly deprives others. If we took and kept only what we need, we would be helping ourselves to be more efficient, thrifty, and sensitive to others. But I am sure you already know this, so let me proceed to where I wanted to go with this in the first place.
The City is run by the taxes we all pay. The role of our City leaders is to make sure that that money is used in the most efficient manner so that none of it is wasted. That money also provides livelihood for the thousands of people employed by the City government and rightly so, because we need to ensure that the City runs smoothly to provide all of us with the services due to us.
From the same taxes, certain amounts have to be allotted for infrastructure, including those the people didn’t really ask for and consented to. But the officials making the decisions, by having been elected by the people, are taking liberties in making and standing by those unpopular decisions. They’ve been mostly left alone in spite of that. If it’s expedient for them, they’d always say the City needs it.
Recently, I’ve seen a job fair at Robinsons, and I even spoke with a representative of one of the companies hiring. I learned that so many apply but only a few ever really get hired at the end of the day. I feel sorry for those who go home with only disappointing news to tell their families. It does not take brains to see, from the hundreds who do not get hired, that there is a scarcity of jobs in the City. The fortunate ones who do find jobs have so much to thank for. It makes their future a little more promising.
Applying for a job is a competition. A person pits himself against another saying, “Hire me, not him. I’m the one you’re looking for! I’m a good worker, better than the rest! I’ll be so worth the pay, and I won’t disappoint you!” When he does get hired, the other applicant is deprived of the chance to get employed.
That is the ideal situation. These people get hired by companies out there and some are hired by the City. The employment initiatives of the City are a manifestation of the leadership’s collective effort to try to stem the unemployment gap. They know that while the City government may not be able to give jobs to everyone, such efforts help tremendously. That is really admirable.
However, I believe the City never had a good accounting of the number of job openings in the local government itself. I did not pull this claim out of my you-know-what! You will shortly understand why I say this even without hard data.
As you know, the public’s opinion of the government is mostly based on what is seen and perceived. That is why government workers should be mindful of how they may be perceived by the public, like when an unknown person walks into a government office. Should a bunch of employees continue milling around the corner talking about their families, or should they, if they had the decency, go back to their desks, and (pretend to) work?
Perception is everything, especially for government workers. Criticism arises from what people see in the government. If a government vehicle breaks down in front of a plush restaurant, people passing by will not know that it broke down, they’ll think that government employees are using the vehicle to go to the restaurant. How can you stop them from thinking that, especially if that government does not have a good track record of being transparent with its people?
With business, it’s location, location, location. With government, it’s perception, perception, perception.
The problem with wrong perceptions is easy enough to wrangle. All that needs to be done is not to show questionable acts that are easily misconstrued. An example is to open the hood of the government vehicle that broke down in front of the restaurant, clearly announcing to passers by that it broke down. When does perception end, and reality start? It is when government employees are actually doing the wrong thing intentionally, and are observed by outsiders.
I have been to the Dumaguete City Hall numerous times for one thing or another. Each time I go, I peel my eyes, and observe how taxpayer money is being spent. After some time, I can say that I now have a litany of observations of wrongdoings by City government employees. Those who know me can attest that I don’t just stand back and observe. I confront these erring employees, and point them out to their supervisors.
I thought that would put an end to my list. Instead, my list continues to grow, as if within their circle, officials at City Hall allow these things to happen. That’s what I perceive.
Once, a young male employee was playing a video game on his cellphone while sitting on the couch in the Mayor’s office anteroom, in full view of the office manager. It took me to say something about it, before the office manager took notice. In that case, what is there more of—work or employees?
I reported it to the manager of Human Resources. What happened to the young man after that, I don’t know. If you ever walk through the hallway at City Hall, you’ll notice that office fronts are glass, and computers are facing out with employees behind them. If you’re observant enough, you’ll probably be able to catch a glimpse of some of them looking at their cellphones propped up in front of the computer screens. To the non-observant, they’re working on the computer. If they see you looking at them, they’ll discreetly put the cellphone away.
Just last week, I went into the Vice Mayor’s office. She was not in at that time, so I had to settle for the secretary. As we spoke, an employee, not six feet away from me, was seated in front of his computer. I noticed that his hands were not on the keyboard or mouse, and he had earphones on. So I looked at the screen and, sure enough, he was watching something on YouTube. I looked closer, and it seemed like a lesson on sleight of hand magic. He was following the hands on the screen, complete with a coin. I brought it to the secretary’s attention, and she told me that “they’ve” been told but they don’t listen much. By the way, this was at approximately 8:40 a.m.
I tapped the employee on the shoulder, at which point, he took his earphones off, and looked at me, asking, “Unsa’y ato, sir?” I asked him why he was watching YouTube during office hours. You’d be just as incensed at his answer: he said he was doing research! According to the City Administrator, that man is not a researcher of any kind at all! I wonder if he wants to see himself on YouTube!
Now, this brings me to the question of whether all City Hall employees are actually needed. I think this is a very serious question that should be given proper attention.
If the Dumaguete City government is functioning with some employees just playing video games or watching YouTube during office hours, does the City Hall really need all of them?
With the way it is, I think that the City government has a glut of employees who have nothing else to do but play video games and watch YouTube! And they are being paid to do so! This is unfair to those who were deprived of jobs – who were probably the better workers.
Please note these are my observations of employees at the City Hall. This does not take into account those who are outside/on field whom I have not been able to observe. If those in full view of the public at City Hall have no qualms about engaging in malfeasance, imagine those in the field! But can they be blamed if they were officially hired – even with no real work available?
Author’s email: [email protected]