I could satisfy my nosy neighbor tendencies, while the rest of you could exercise your higher, civic-minded duties to make sure our tax dollars are properly spent.
Yes, you can now find out how much public employees in Walnut Creek and other public agencies are earning, thanks to the Bay Area News Group, Contra Costa Times included, publishing a very comprehensive database of the salaries of more than 134,000 public employees at 64 entities around the Bay Area.
You can see that, in Walnut Creek, the highest paid staff is City Manager Gary Pokorny who earned a total of $231,446.
Meanwhile, Police Officer Patrick Duggan earned the most overtime: $29,547 to bring his take-home pay to $136,259.
Public safety employees tend to earn the most overtime in any city or county agency. Sure, an officer or firefighter can't just up and leave an emergency or unfolding situation when his or her shift ends. On the other hand, overtime for public employees, including police and firefighters, can be a sort point, especially in these budget-strapped times. I've known of some police chiefs who take pride in being the kind of managers who keep overtime costs down.
Revelations about overtime earned--not by BART police officers--but by certain BART train operators and station agents (in some cases more than double their base pay) made the public unsympathetic to the these workers' complaints in recent negotiations that at one point broke down and almost led to a strike.
Well, there are lots of different ways to play with this database. If you live in another city, you can see who the highest paid staff member is there. In Concord, it’s City Attorney Craig Labadie, with take-home pay of $209,961. The top overtime prize ($78,901, on top of his $96,467 base pay) goes to Police Officer Ronald Turner.
Thomas Peele, the Times “Watchdog” columnist, says that some entities and public employee unions have gone to court to keep this information out of the public record.
“The arguments against the release of the data were largely nonsensical,” Peele writes. One argument is that the release of name, job title and dollar figure “would lead to identity theft and unwanted telemarketing calls. ... There were also hints at times in the arguments, and in e-mails that I got as the case progressed, of an arrogance, an attitude that some public employees don't think their pay is anyone's business but theirs.”
What do you think? Should this information be public? Of course, as an employee of a private company, I wouldn’t have to release my salary information.
Peele’s response to this public versus private release of salary information:
“Public employees, a tiny segment of the California population, get largely a free pass from any of the realities the rest of us face when we go to work in the morning. We pay their salaries, yet some claim we have no right to know the specifics.”