Take that, Mark Nickolas: State gov't. reportedly investigating Internet misuse by employees
Last year when Mark Nickolas started whining about his now-defunct (thank God for small miracles) bluegrassreport.org no longer being available to state employees on the state computer network, two of his complaints stood out.
One was that he did not understand why most conservative bloggers did not support his position. He found it impossible to believe that conservatives expect government employees to do government business on the taxpayers' dime, not to surf and comment on political blogs (in express violation of state laws and personnel policies). He wanted conservative bloggers to join his fight against the Fletcher administration but he got no allies on the right side of the spectrum. Most conservative bloggers would prefer that state employees read the conservative blogs at home, off the clock, instead of at work. Even a few anti-Nickolas Democrats jumped on that bandwagon, and they brought Johnathan Miller into the fray after Nickolas revealed that Miller was one of his inspirations for starting the blog.
His other complaint was that he felt his site and others with a left-leaning perspective were being targeted, while conservative sites and other non-work-related sites were not blocked and state employees had access to them from state computers.
Well, just because they have access, that doesn't mean that they are allowed to go there. It's a lesson a few state employees may be getting ready to learn the hard way.
We hear from several sources that one or more state agencies have disciplined or are getting ready to discipline employees for improper Internet usage. The Herald-Leader has been asking questions, conducting interviews and reviewing open personnel records in one cabinet for certain and possibly others. Transportation recently implemented a tough new Internet usage policy that prohibits employees from visiting a number of sites or performing certain activities on state computers, even if they do so during lunch or during their 15-minute morning and afternoon breaks. And this isn't gambling or porn or political commentary, either. Among the activities that Transportation employees are expressly prohibited from doing at anytime on a state computer is personal shopping. That means no more surfing eBay or ordering "duck shoes" from L.L. Bean or anything of the sort. Other agencies may be following suit.
It's been more than a year since the blog ban went into effect. Although Nickolas now lives in Montana, he still has a federal lawsuit going against the Fletcher administration. If the blog ban hadn't been put into effect, wonder how many state employees might be facing disciplinary action because they improperly accessed a political blog site on state computers?
Instead of suing the state, Nickolas probably ought to thank the Fletcher administration. The blog ban may have saved the jobs of some of Nickolas' most ardent state employee supporters.