Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Chip Johnson of SF Chronicle, Holding Government Accountable

Chip Johnson in his April 1, 2008 column in the SF Chronicle's B1 page, reports that almost 1/3 of Oakland's city workers are making over 100,000 dollars in salary per year. That figure, of course, does not include benefits and pensions. Overall, non-federal government (meaning, county, city and state) salaries probably make up between 10 to 15% of gross domestic expenditures, which doesn't sound like a lot until you realize that it's harder to reduce salaries once they achieve such a high level. More troubling is the fact that it's harder to reduce government benefits because such benefits are vested; in addition, such costs are difficult to estimate due to the guesswork in determining a former employee's health and life expectancy for pensions and medical benefit purposes.  In short, the public is indebted to the government for amounts unknown, even if the economy enters a period of recession or constrained growth.

Strangely, government employees making over 100,000 dollars a year are still eligible for overtime pay. In the private sector, most employees making 100K+ annually in base pay would be exempt and still expected to put in the hours that come with making such a salary.

The recent California Supreme Court decision allowing the public to see such salaries is INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF PROFESSIONAL AND TECHNICAL ENGINEERS, LOCAL 21, AFL-CIO et al., v. SUPERIOR COURT OF ALAMEDA COUNTY, REAL PARTIES IN INTEREST: CONTRA COSTA NEWSPAPERS (2007), which can be found at this link:


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