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Time clocks, GPS monitoring make for good government

Published: Wed, May 30, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Sometimes you have to spend money to save money. And in that context, Youngstown Mayor Chuck Sammarone’s proposal to install time clocks for city employees and GPS tracking systems in all city vehicles makes perfect sense.

Other mayors have talked about making government run more like a business, but Sammarone is pursuing accountability in ways that, in the case of time clocks, has long been a routine part of private employment and in the case of GPS is an increasingly used technology.

Requiring employees to clock in and clock out can’t be challenged on any legitimate grounds.

We suspect, though, that there will be more reluctance by some employees to the emerging technology of GPS and the oversight it provides. Any such resistance should not be permitted to get in the way of purchasing and installing GPS systems in the vehicles.

Police officers have come to accept global-positioning-satellite systems as a safety factor. While the police are routinely involved in potentially more dangerous pursuits than city employees in other department, the streets hold dangers for any employee in a city vehicle.

Only slackers need worry

To the extent that GPS gives supervisors the ability to monitor the whereabouts of employees when they are on the clock, no honest employee should have a problem with that as long as enforcement is evenhanded. Accepting the premise that most city employees are conscientious workers, they should welcome a system that makes it easier for supervisors to identify slackers and take corrective action.

Everyone will know that the devices are in use, so it would seem unlikely that Youngstown would uncover such obvious abuses as those found in Trumbull County two years ago, when GPS devices were placed on the cars of two employees in the sanitary engineer’s office who were suspected of neglecting their duties. During a three-week period, one employee’s car was found to be in unauthorized places 25 percent of the time; the other more than 50 percent of the time. Both were fired.

Such extreme examples not only raises questions about the honesty of employees, but about the level of supervision they work under.

GPS monitoring protects honest employees, puts dishonest employees in jeopardy and places greater pressure on supervisors to make sure their departments are running efficiently. Time will tell if it results in departments being able to get by with a fewer employees.

And in at least one department, GPS, combined with available software, allows any city to keep track during a snow storm of exactly which streets have been plowed and which have yet to be plowed. And that’s a safety feature for city employees and residents alike.


1maxborenstein(27 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

This is a very good plan. Too many city workers treat the city-owned vehicles as their personal vehicle. The departments would be able to get by with fewer people if each person was more efficient.

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2Askmeificare(1252 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

This is excellent business, government, and common sense.

Great article Vindy. You nailed it, again.

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3WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

If you're not breaking any rules then you have nothing to worry about, right?

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4NoBS(2836 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

"If you're not breaking any rules then you have nothing to worry about, right?"

Yeah - I've heard that before. The handful of people who favor traffic and speed cams say it. The handful of people who favor random drug tests say it.

Now, I can already hear people typing, "well, you don't like them, so you must be a ..." Nope, I'm not, and it wouldn't matter if I was.

Here, how about this? Let's put GPS tracking devices on EVERYONE's car, truck, or vehicle. And allow the cops to send us traffic tickets every time someone speeds or runs a red light or stop sign. Come on - just don't break the law, and you won't have to worry, right?

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5WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago


Sarcasm. That was sarcasm.

I completely despise people that use the "if you're not doing anything wrong" excuse for chiseling away our liberties for every stupid reason under the sun.

Destroy all the traffic cams, dismantle the OVI checkpoints, eradicate the automated license plate checkers, etc.

I want a government that paves roads, builds schools and delivers clean water. Only freedom and liberty for me, thank you.

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6NoBS(2836 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

WS - sorry about that. But how was I to know it was sarcasm?

Sounds like we're on the same page.

Back on the subject at hand - the GPS tracking devices, if our elected representatives are bound and determined to use them, need to be installed FIRST on the taxpayer-provided, often unmarked, vehicles that are one of the perks of leadership. Department managers and chiefs who get take-home vehicles, and elected and appointed officials who get the same, need to be monitored. It's awfully hard to make your fire truck, dump truck, or even cop car blend in with the other vehicles at your favorite watering hole. The free vehicles, and free gasoline, the top dogs enjoy need to be scrutinized before the rank and file workers. And those results need to be made public. THEN we can talk about bird-dogging the regular workers.

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7VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I see time clocks and required doctor's excuses have really improved the health of Cleveland city firemen.

If a police officer places a newly purchased mattress ontop of the cruiser so as to take it home, will it affect the GPS? Will this also affect unmarked government vehicles that are parked in Walmart?

Possibly we should also consider eliminating government cell phones and allow government employees to use their own phone...since they make more personal calls on the government's dime than on their own.

Also, eliminate the government gas card and go back to the days of a delivery driver filling up all government vehicles in the government parking lot. The bulk sales cost will be far less than the pump price and it will discourage abuse, theft or waste. Employees will have to drive their own personal vehicles home.

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8Traveler(606 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

unfortunately we need to pay tax money to have this installed on government vehicles and buildings. Time and time again government has shown it cant manage personal. Union or nonunion government employees too often abuse the system. it is a a shame that our tax dollars have to go to items like this but our elected officials for both party's has shown they dont have the will or care to effectively manage.

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