AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsEven 14 members of Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s office got in on the altruism-at-taxpayers’-expense act, “volunteering” full- and half-days on salaried time to help build houses. Has volunteerism ever been more profitable … for the volunteer? According to my American Heritage Dictionary, the No. 1 definition of volunteer is “a person who performs or offers to perform a service of his or her own free will without pay.” That definition is followed by a dozen more, none of which mentions being paid for services rendered. Not one. A volunteer who gets paid is not a volunteer, no matter what kind of spin city officials put on it. Mercedes Marquez, general manager of the Housing Department, justifies all this faux volunteerism by saying her employees’ work on the project was relevant to their regular duties and, thus, an appropriate use of staff time. Wrong! We, the taxpayers pay city workers to stay in the office and push papers, not to be on the Habitat job site pulling electrical wiring. There’s a time-tested Army saying: Never volunteer; it usually means doing an extremely hazardous or dirty job. Then there’s Tennessee, which is known as the Volunteer State. Maybe we should send our “volunteering” city workers there. The city doesn’t have a clear policy on employees’ volunteering their services for charitable work. Nor does it have any way of keeping track of which employees actually volunteered for the Habitat for Humanity project, how many hours they worked, or if they even showed up to work, opting instead to go to a movie or spend the day in bed. If I could afford it – which I can’t, because of all my tax money city officials have wasted – I’d race to the nearest book store and buy every one in City Hall an unabridged Oxford English dictionary along with a Roget’s Thesaurus. The politicians’ assignment would be to memorize five new words and their definition every day. They must start with “legal” and “volunteer.” Sand Sandy Sand is a resident of West Hills, a freelance writer and former editor of the Tolucan. Write to her by e-mail [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! What part of “volunteer” don’t our city officials understand? While rationally understanding anything doesn’t seem to be part of their job description, frankly I don’t understand how they cannot understand what “volunteering” means. Pay me to volunteer, and I’ll volunteer all day long, and so will every member of my family. Hell, I’ll even “volunteer” the dog’s services to be hitched to a supply wagon and follow me while we’re being “paid volunteers.” As the result of former President Jimmy Carter’s visit to Los Angeles in October for a weeklong Habitat for Humanity project in South Los Angeles, the city’s Housing Department encouraged employees to volunteer. And they did – on the taxpayers’ dime.