The Sacramento Bee has discovered gold at the public trough and they're not giving up. The Bee has tapped a state employe salary database and you can now look up the exact wage of your state-employee friends and neighbors! I noticed the headline, but hadn't read the story. The details came to my attention when a friend marvled at one of his friend's salary!
On one hand it's entirely approporiate to discuss wage ranges. A manager in the state can make $XX-$YY dollars. And it is always educational to see how the state tries to compete for talent in the medical and financial worlds.
But to say Joe Blow is making $54,753 a year, when Joe has done nothing newsworthy outside of showing up for work is wrong. The Bee wouldn't presume to ask to see Joe's personnel file. (Again, barring some misbehavior on Joe's part.)
The employees are outraged and I think they have every right to be upset. There's no public benefit for this level of detail living in the public domain. We, the public, don't manage any specific state employee. We don't have a say in their advancement or lack thereof. We don't have the background on why a person has their job.
Of course, the Bee gets ad revenue for every hit to this database. The new editor and now the
ombudsman Public Editor
has stepped up to defend their right to violate the rights of others.
And here's the tag line from the Public Editor:
It's up to the public to decide whether it is interested in the information and, at least initially, there's no question a lot of the public is.
That's the same logic that keeps the National Enquirer going. Now that's a target to shoot for.
(Disclaimer: mom's living on my deceased father's state pension, but I otherwise have no one in the family on the state payroll. Maybe the Bee will post a list of widow's pensions next? And, I have had state contracts in the past. Fortunately I didn't have to undress or provide my salary information to get those contracts.)