Friday, October 21, 2011

Privacy for All?

A long time city employee called me  yesterday to ask what I thought about the posting of all city employees salary information online.  I said it was B.S.  It is just another way of attacking the integrity of anyone who is a public servant.  You know, these second class citizens are responsible for all of our problems.  Right?

I feel it is okay for folks to know what elected officials, political hires and department heads earn, but is it really crucial to know what your sanitation truck driver earns?  Or the guy the cuts the grass in the park down the street?  Is there any right to privacy for these government employees?

This posting of salaries is the handiwork of the Albuquerque Journal.  In the spirit of the policy I would once again request the earnings posting of all Albuquerque Publishing Company employees from the publisher, to the editor of the Journal, the reporters and press operators.  The Journal folks will tell  you this is not the same thing because of tax dollars funding city workers and not them. Forget that many tax dollars go to the Journal for Legal ads, a major source of revenue for them.   But really, if the journal is such a champion of making things transparent in government, lets see them lay it out themselves.  After all, it is really them who controls information in this community.  They print only what they want to print and hide the rest.

So, here is a challenge to all levels of government in the area.  Please put up on a website how much you pay the Albuquerque Journal every year for legal advertising.  Or maybe the Journal could put a reporter on that and let us know.


Anonymous said...

How about the fact that the Journal does not collect gross receipts tax because it is a "newspaper"??? Publishing the government salaries only breeds gossip and miscontent amongst coworkers when the employees start complaining about making less or others making more. Very sad.

Abq Dude said...

On this I disagree. It's public information and appropriate in the event that salary and raises for certain employees appear suspect. Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have had countless problems of this type over many years.

Anonymous said...

Just the salaries alone do not paint the whole picture. 1/3 or more of the total compensation package comes in the form of benefits including retirement, holiday, sick pay, insurance, etc....So when you see the salary info just ad about 30 percent or more and you probably have a better idea of what that person makes.

Murr Brewster said...

It seems like a transparency issue, but it is meant as an attack on government employees--the employees we, the people, hire to accomplish what we decide is important to us. Yet government employees are portrayed as villainous or slackers all the time. The object is to reduce government, and, ultimately, reduce even further the taxes on the wealthy, who are funding this drive.

Anonymous said...

Good comments. Good post. You have a wicked sense of humor when you choose to.

I'll comment on the legal aspect. The paper has constitutional protections and performs a constitutional function. In the town I was raised in, New Buffalo, MI, the city council got mad at the weekly paper, the paper of record, and started publishing legal notices in a free weekly. The paper could not live without that revenue. It sued, and won, and got that revenue back.

In other words, papers like the Journal live on tax dollars. I don't know the legal intricacies of that case, but as far as the Journal's role in the functioning of a democracy, which is why it is protected but which role it doesn't even make a good faith effort to fulfill, the Journal is not the same as other businesses. You can make a very good case for why it should be transparent, as Jim has.

Why do you think there were laws that prevented monopoly journalism, which laws Rupert Murdock had to get changed in order to hold monopolies in the cities he has them in in the United States?

The constitution gives the Journal certain rights. As conservatives always like to remind us, with those rights come responsibilities.