-Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
Friday, February 10, 2006
Bloomberg Is An A-Hole
NEW YORK (AP) - Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't playing games - after he saw a game of solitaire on a city employee's computer screen, he fired him.
The Republican mayor stopped by the city's legislative office in Albany a few weeks ago when he was visiting the state Capitol to hear the governor's State of the State address.
Office assistant Edward Greenwood IX was going over some papers at his desk as Bloomberg made the rounds with his photographer, greeting workers and posing for pictures. When the mayor reached him, Greenwood stood, they shook hands and the photographer snapped a photo.
But the eagle-eyed mayor - a billionaire former businessman with a certain idea of how offices should be run - noticed Greenwood's game of solitaire glowing on his screen. He said nothing about it to Greenwood but later told an aide to give him the ax.
The story was reported by the New York Post on Thursday, and Bloomberg defended his no-tolerance decision.
"The workplace is not an appropriate place for games," Bloomberg said. "It's a place where you've got to do the job that you're getting paid for."
Greenwood, who earned $27,000 a year and had worked in the office for six years, said in a telephone interview that he limited his play time to his one-hour lunch or during quick breaks when he needed a moment of distraction.
"It wasn't like I spent hours and hours a day playing, because I had plenty to do," Greenwood said. "If I had been working at something exhaustively for two hours, I might get a cup of coffee and play for a minute but then go right back to my work."
The mayor's office said its records show that in 2004 Greenwood reviewed the policy that prohibits "inappropriate" use of city computers.
Greenwood said he doesn't recall doing so but probably did. He suggested that other workers in the office play solitaire and similarly stretch the rules.
"It's not like I'm the only one that ever did this," said the 39-year-old father of a toddler.
Greenwood said he wasn't angry with the mayor but wished he had been warned or reprimanded for what he called a first offense.
"I admire the guy - he's a great financial success, and he has a definite management style," Greenwood said. "I just think he could have seen my situation and weighed the harshness of his final decision."
Bloomberg, who left his financial information company for politics in 2001, managed Bloomberg LP with a style that has become his signature. He created an office setup, which he repeated at City Hall, where everyone sits together in an open-air environment - an arrangement that facilitates communication and eliminates fooling around.
"I expect all city workers, including myself, to work hard," the mayor said. "There's nothing wrong with taking a break, but during the business day, at your desk, that's not appropriate behavior."