San Francisco city planners surfed porn at work

Amid the fallout after Californians discovered that Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo earned nearly $800,000 a year, and would receive an extravagant $600,000 a year pension upon retirement, golden state residents everywhere are alarmed.

With the state and most local governments facing a desperate financial crisis, Californians are outraged at anything they perceive as a wasteful use of the state’s resources by privileged government bureaucrats.

That’s what made the bizarre pornographic images unearthed by SF Weekly Tuesday all the more shocking.

It all started last December when someone at San Francisco’s Planning Deparment blew the whistle on a workplace culture that permitted the regular exchange of pornographic emails among workers on city computers and on city time.

That means San Francisco’s residents were unwittingly paying government workers to spend their time exchanging and looking at porn.

The planning department’s website says that it: 

     “develops planning policy to preserve and enhance San Francisco’s quality of life. Citywide Policy Planning maintains the city’s General Plan which provides guidance to all city agencies and departments regarding urban design, land use, transportation, housing, open space and a variety of other issues.”

One of the five senior staff members to lose their jobs over the course of the investigation, a veteran Zoning Administrator by the name of Larry Badiner- made over $150,000 a year.

The ongoing scandal made headlines again this week when SF Weekly published some of its findings after making a public records request for the material that resulted in the firings.

Among other offensive and graphic materials, San Francisco’s government employees were apparently exchanging photographs of a nude man with a chain saw… and a hula hoop.

While some readers found the story amusing (one commentator wrote: “LOL, thats just too funny dude. Seriously.”), this is no laughing matter.

Years of pornography use during working hours on the taxpayers’ dime in the middle of an economic downturn is not only an egregious waste of scarce resources, it’s a form of sexual harrassment that creates a hostile work environment.

Navarette Law Firm, a company that specializes in sexual harrassment cases with offices in San Francisco and San Jose, says that it is considered workplace sexual harrassment if someone has porn visible on their screen, tells sexual jokes, or sends e-mails of a sexual nature.

With this and many other recent examples of malfeasance by California’s bureaucrats, residents of the Golden State must grapple with questions about and solutions to a culture of corruption and privilege in its vast public sector.