COMMENTARY: I’ve written a lot in the past about public employees inappropriately using government resources for campaigning and other private business. On Monday, I came across a example of someone doing it right that I wanted to share.
The example starts with me making a mistake. I wanted to ask Las Cruces’ interim city manager, David Dollahon, if he was still interested in being considered for that job on a more permanent basis.
I called Dollahon’s government office and left a message. I also sent an email asking the question — to his government email account.
His emailed response from the government account was right on:
I will not respond to these type of questions on the City’s e-mail, as it represents use of City equipment on something that provides me with a personal benefit. You are welcome to contact me via my email listed on my resume/cover letter that was submitted to the Mercer Group.
First, let me share publicly the apology I emailed back to Dollahon: I should have sent my request for comment to his private email account, not his city address. I apologize to him for putting him in that position, and to the city’s residents for opening the door to a possible inappropriate use of public email by a government official. I know better.
Second, I want to thank Dollahon for responding to my email with such integrity. Government is a sacred trust. Even using an email account to send one message that arguably has very little financial cost is a violation, and it opens the door to more. Using public money for personal or political benefit is a slippery slope.
We need more folks in government who take that sacred trust so seriously. I’m glad to know Dollahon is doing just that.
And by the way: No, this isn’t an endorsement of Dollahon for city manager. That decision is the Las Cruces City Council’s. I don’t know Dollahon or the candidates the Council interviewed last week. I’m just taking the opportunity to hold up an example of someone in government acting ethically.