mesa government workers - hard at work - sending each other porn and filthy jokes - and mesa claims they need a property tax to raise more money to provided needed government wokers???

Mesa scolds workers in e-mail audit

JJ Hensley The Arizona Republic Feb. 18, 2006 12:00 AM

Nearly 300 Mesa city employees are facing reprimands for sending personal e-mails on their work computers after an investigation showed wide misuse of the system.

City manager Chris Brady, who took office less than two months ago, announced the disciplinary action Friday and said the city will adopt a tougher computer-use policy as a result of the investigation.

He said most employees sent personal e-mails that were not sexual in nature and will receive reprimands. About 35, however, sent sexually suggestive e-mails and will receive punishments that range from counseling to suspensions. About five other employees sent sexually explicit e-mails and will receive 240-hour unpaid suspensions and one year of probation that includes a frozen salary and a warning that further violations could result in being fired.

No employees will lose their jobs over the incidents.

Brady blamed the lapses on a 2002 electronic-use policy that didn't allow supervisors to randomly monitor employee e-mails, and that made it difficult to enforce.

"It was obvious to me it was inadequate," Brady said. "That's going to change. We are going to have the absolute right to monitor anytime we see fit to." That the current policy is loosely enforced made it difficult to take more punitive measures against employees, Brady said.

The new policy will be in place in the next few weeks, Brady said. It will allow for random monitoring of employee e-mails and will reiterate the point that the city's e-mail system is for work purposes only.

New policy

Unlike the current policy, the new policy also will require employees to sign a statement verifying their understanding of the policy and that vio- lating it can result in termination.

The city began looking into e-mails on the heels of a sexual-harassment investigation following a complaint filed last November.

A city employee filed the complaint, citing unprofessional bantering, teasing and name-calling of a sexual nature, said the city's personnel director, Sheryl Currell

Trail of mail

The employee accused of sexual harassment ultimately received a demotion and was placed on disciplinary probation, but as a result of the investigation, the city received permission to explore employee e-mails. That led to a trail of correspondence between employees and those outside the city that was largely personal in nature.

The employees come from departments throughout the city, but Brady said most were lower-level employees who weren't aware of open-records laws that allow public access to correspondence on the city's e-mail system.

Mesa is not alone in fighting its employees' tendency to use work computers for personal correspondence.

More than three dozen Phoenix firefighters received reprimands last fall for abusing the city's e-mail system, including forwarding chain letters and viewing and forwarding pornography.

Their punishments ranged from written discipline to three-shift suspensions without pay.

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