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Dallas employees censured for too much Facebook

It can't be too exciting in Dallas' City Hall. Fifty employees have reportedly been reprimanded for spending too much of their valuable time on Facebook.

I had heard, perhaps erroneously, that Texas has budget problems that tend to rival those of California.

So I was stunned to be informed by KDAF-TV that city hall workers in Dallas appear to have vast amounts of idle time--for 50 of them have reportedly been censured for spending far too much of their working days on Facebook.

Perhaps it's unfair to say that Facebook represents idle time. Perhaps some of these highly valuable employees were using Facebook to improve their social skills, something very important in a city hall environment.

The Associated Press identified one of the apparently more extreme Facebook-dependents as Cesar Baptista, assistant director in the water department. His Facebook page apparently flowed open for 68 hours in a three-month period.

And in the city of Dallas, everyone was on Facebook. CC D Herrera_96/Flickr

Of course, the fact that it was open doesn't mean that Baptista stared at it for all of those 68 hours. Indeed, he told the AP that he merely opened it in the morning and didn't bother closing it again.

However, you can imagine that city hall bosses veer toward officious interpretations of the rules. The AP heard this from Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm: "Computer equipment belongs to the company and technically your time belongs to the company too, while you're there."

"The company"? They've already privatized city hall in Dallas? I didn't know.

If you're wondering just what kind of severe punishments were handed out to these socially networked workers, then I can only give you limited information.

It seems that some were merely offered counseling, while others were handed more serious strictures, depending on how well they got on with their bosses. (My intuitive paraphrase.)

Some might wonder whether this is all a little severe. Isn't it more important to see how helpful, how productive, how inspired your workers are? I mean, there's a crisis out there. City workers need to reach out to the people, wherever they may be. Shouldn't the city be encouraging them to get on Google+ too?