You may love the Olympics, but how do you feel about someone else watching them on your dime? That’s the basis of a new controversy surrounding the city of Los Angeles, where employees at City Hall are in hot water for watching swimming, basketball and beach volleyball when they’re supposed to be working for the taxpayers.
According to the Los Angeles Times, an email was sent on Tuesday morning to city employees, catching many of them off-guard as it asked them to stop watching the Olympics at work. Attention was called to the issue when City tech guru Randi Levin warned of a municipal computer meltdown and sent the email asking them to stop consuming valuable bandwidth watching the latest adventures of Michael Phelps.
“We are experiencing a high volume of traffic due to people watching the Olympics online. I respectfully request that you discontinue this as it is impacting city operations,” Levin’s email said. The request came on the same day as the women’s soccer team and U.S. gymnastics teams were competing in high-profile events.
L.A. Executive Officer for Information Technology Mark Wolf said that when employees watch streaming material on their work computers, it takes up a huge amount of bandwith that could impede other computers attempting to perform work functions.
Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is not commenting on the issue.
After learning of the controversy, L.A. councilwoman Jan Perry announced plans to “immediately” block NBC’s Olympic stream on city computers. “We are going to stop this activity now,” she told the L.A. Times. “That is what I am requesting they do immediately.”
“City employees aren’t paid to watch the Olympics on their computers or TV,” Councilman Dennis Zine remarked. “That is not what the taxpayers are paying them to do. The question is, where are the supervisors when this is going on?”