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Phil Berger’s tweet-happy son

The worldwide explosion of social media like Facebook and Twitter in recent years gives rise to some interesting questions about what is and isn’t appropriate for politicians and other public servants who use these platforms while on the job.

On one level, it’s obviously no big deal. If House Speaker Thom Tillis sends out a tweet during a legislative day promoting some House policy initiative, it’s really no different than if his staff sends out a press release. Especially in light of the fact that Tillis’ (and Governor Perdue’s) tweets are almost certainly authored by staff, it really doesn’t raise any issues that I can see. In fact, kudos to them for at least attempting to inform the public.

But what about some other situations? What if Tillis or Perdue sends out a campaign-related announcement on their Twitter account on a workday?  That would seem to necessitate some care on their part so that we can be assured that public funds are not being used to compensate someone for such time.

And then there’s the situation in which officials and their staffers are sending out tweets or posting comments on Facebook or blogs that are mostly or completely unrelated to their jobs. For instance, during the legislative session, it was not hard to find examples of legislative staffers who were tweeting up a storm during the workday about a wide variety of non-legislative matters. 

At times, it seemed that Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s Chief of Staff Jim Blaine kept (keeps) up an almost running account of his life and general impressions of the world.  Does Berger really employ him to do this? Does Blaine go off the clock every time he posts a comment about the Supreme Court’s health care decision, politics in general or baseball? A lot of his tweets are posted on weekends, but many, many show up during work hours.

And then there’s Berger’s son, Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. (that’s him pictured above). Though the younger Berger is presumably a very busy man who spends lots and lots of working hours putting all sorts of criminals behind bars, the man is also a busy tweeter.

Today (Monday),  for instance, he’s already told the world about his views on fracking (he likes it) and re-tweeted a comment from an ultra-conservative retired sailor from Washington state. At other times on recent workdays, he’s found time to tell us about the national debt, Larry Kissell’s voting record, unemployment and repeatedly attack President Obama.

So, what’s the deal with this? Are things really running so efficiently in the Rockingham County criminal justice system that Phil Jr. has that much time on his hands?  Hopefully, Junior is going off the clock every time he posts one of these tweets, but if that’s so, he must have a very interesting and complex set of time records each week. 

 

20 Comments

  1. Frank Burns

    July 16, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Citizens who are not part of any Advocacy Group like you belong to, are entitled to give their opinions by email, or post by twitter or post on web sites, just as you are. Advocacy Groups should not have an advantage over every day citizens when giving their opinions. You can’t squelch people from giving their opinion regardless of who their parents are or whether they actually work for a living. If we did that, then only people paid to give their opinion would be posting. That’s not fair play.

  2. david esmay

    July 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Public employees, who are paid with tax dollars, have no business wasting time while they’re on the clock with this b.s.. The whole idea that tweeting or texting the minutiae of one’s life is pertinent is ridiculous. On taxpayer and company time, even more so. Junior should be reprimanded by the people he works for, but they’re probably scared of daddy, or in his back pocket.

  3. Rob Schofield

    July 16, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Sorry I didn’t do a better job of explaining this, Frank.

    I don’t question anyone’s right to give his or her opinion. I do question the right of public employees to spend their work hours tweeting about matters unrelated to their jobs. If the schools superintendent in, say, Mecklenburg County were sending out tweets from his office computer about Mitt Romney’s taxes or voter ID legislation, that would also be wrong.

  4. James

    July 16, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    IOKIYAR

    Junior Berger is just another government-hating Teabagger slopping at the public trough. If one of my employees was found tweeting all day on subjects unrelated to his or her work, that person would be fired in a heartbeat.

  5. jlp75

    July 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    No doubt James. If a Dem did this they would probably have to convene a Senate session at our expense to investigate.

  6. Dallas Woodhouse

    July 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Rob sets a fair standard. It is ok when he says so and it is not ok when he does not think so. I think less communication is in order. No press releases, no public information releases before the votes are taken. Just post the legislative plan for the day and then vote 5 minutes later. Then Rob will not be upset that time was wasted putting out communications via twitter

  7. Rob Schofield

    July 16, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I know this would be a lot to ask, DW, but you might try reading the post.

  8. david esmay

    July 17, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Dallas, I think Americans for Polarity would be a better name for you website.

  9. Frank Burns

    July 17, 2012 at 10:46 am

    For some like David, prosperity is a dirty word.

  10. gregflynn

    July 17, 2012 at 11:17 am

    So Frank, Americans for Prosperity is an “Advocacy Group” currently spending $9 million on anti-Obama ads. I don’t ever see you complaining about them.

  11. Frank Burns

    July 17, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Greg, I don’t support any Advocacy Groups. The problem with Advocacy Groups is they are so narrow focused on the issues from which their contributors pay the staff to chase. Ordinary citizens like myself get screwed as nobody is speaking out for the interests of the taxpayers. We get stuck with higher taxes, higher costs, higher utility bills, etc due to the mischief created by Advocacy groups.

    I don’t need any ads to be anti Obama. I can look at his piss poor record and decide for myself that we don’t reward failure and incompetance with re-election.

  12. gregflynn

    July 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I still don’t see you complain about AFP, or Civitas, or John Locke, or Heritage, or Heartland, or the Independent Petroleum Association of America, or charter school “advocacy groups”, or any number of “advocacy groups” that align with your views. Your scorn is reserved for liberal non-profits and not extended to right-wing “advocacy groups” or industry “advocacy groups”.

  13. Frank Burns

    July 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I think Advocacy Groups are anti Democratic and we should eliminate all of them or at least not give them any tax breaks. I believe the non profits are a scam which pays lavish salaries and benefits to those involved and they keep working for the next batch of government grants. It’s a waste of money. We had a good example of that in Charlotte with the United Way Chairman who lived high on the hog. I don’t have any information on the groups you mentioned except I have paid attention to the John Locke web site. Why should I display scorn for any group or person who agrees with my point of view? Does that make any sense?

  14. gregflynn

    July 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    You claim to be against “advocacy groups” in principle, but you’re apparently OK with right-wing “advocacy groups”.

    Actual quotes from Frank Burns:

    Everything that I’ve seen from the Koch Brothers is positive.
    ::::::::::
    Actually democracy is well served with the Koch Brothers contributing to politics that favor free enterprise as a counter balance to groups like the Unions and Moveon.org and George Soros funded groups who favor socialist policies.

  15. Frank Burns

    July 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    The Koch Brothers support free enterprise which has helped make this country great. When those of you on the left continue to disparage them doesn’t make sense to me, unless that is what George Soros told you to do. What I stated in my last post is what I think of Advocacy Groups. Is it your position that we should only allow Advocacy Groups which support left wing causes? The self declared “non partisan” organizations? Let’s eliminate all of them.

  16. gregflynn

    July 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    The diversity of my portfolio of beliefs does not submit to your narrow stereotypes. I support a great many things, including free enterprise.

    PS. If you’re not familiar with Heritage, or Heartland, or the Independent Petroleum Association of America, then perhaps you shouldn’t quote them with such abandon.

  17. Frank Burns

    July 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    PSS: I’ll quote the devil himself if it supports my argument. Shoot, I’ll even quote the Huffington Post. Does it matter where the source comes from? If the source quotes facts, what do you care which organization generated those facts?

  18. david esmay

    July 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    The operative words you used Frank is “if the source quotes facts.” The Heritage Foundation, Heartland, your beloved Watts Up With That, Americans for Polarity, or any of the right wing propaganda sites aren’t big on facts, or fact checking.

  19. Frank Burns

    July 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    David, I call BS on that. You would have us all believe that only the leftwingnuts have the facts. Not true.

  20. david esmay

    July 18, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I called it first.