Comments


  • "I work for a private company. When people choose to work for public entities, I'd argue, and make their living with the money taken from the public's paychecks, employees choose the possibility of added scrutiny. The same goes for politicians."
    I agree about the politicians argument but that is where it ends.  Politicians choose to run for office and know they will be in the public eye.  Politicians understand this as they are vying to become elected officials and the scrutiny is to be expected.  
    As for other public employees, I'd be willing to bet that, more often than not, it's a job or career move they are after and not necessarily a "choice" as you put it. 
    Public employees go through the employment process just like the private sector and they are chosen for the job by those who hire them. 
    Again, all of this information is available to anyone who wants it for legitimate reasons and not just to stir up crap.

    November 24, 2008 at 4:13 p.m.

  • Its a shame that some people actually think this is a good idea. It has the smell of Big Government and one world government written all over it.
    First everyone agrees that this is a good idea. So we as a democratic society give up some privacy because 'it's for the good of the community'.
    Then whats next? Private corporations, Medical records, your Walmart purchases ?

    By saying yes to this only opens the gateway for something larger to happen later to everyone in the population.
    Just because your a state, city or federal employee does not give the right for people to know their private income. Remember when African Americans, Native American Indians and women had no rights or privacy. This idea is just a new method of segregation.
    Once you allow an entity whether it be the government or a group of people to put their claws into something. Expect your rights as a United States citizen to dwindle.
    Pretty soon there will be a group asking all State and Federal employees to have a chip inserted into their arms. And there will be a group of delusional people who think this is a good idea. Only they will fail to see that this 'chip' could be what Christians call the Mark of the Beast.

    Don't be a sheep. Don't ever allow anyone to tell you its a good idea to give up your personal private information because its for the good of everyone. Once you do that. We are no longing living in a Free country.

    November 17, 2008 at 9:28 a.m.

  • I work at one of these institutions and am highly in favor of the Advocate publilshing this information.
    Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is going and be able to access it in a clear and readily available format.  They may even be a bit shocke to see some of the things that go on.  It would serve as a good watchdog.

    November 17, 2008 at 8:54 a.m.

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    In today’s age of big government everyone receives government money. If your true interest is government spending, compile a list of all welfare recipients, people receiving social security, veterans receiving benefits, etc. In fact let’s compile a list of our children’s grades and names. We all contribute property tax and I want to know who is under-utilizing my money.
    All of your example databases have advertisements on their websites. This “public service” from the Advocate is nothing more than an amateur financial maneuver to help raise profits. The Freedom of Information Act should not be exploited by the Advocate for profit.
    I truly hope no one has escaped an abusive relationship only to have the Advocate to publish their names to aid their attackers. This so called public service is nothing more than the Advocate moving closer to the tabloid/gossip section of the news rack.
    Lastly if Chris Cobler has no problem with his wife’s salary and name being released maybe he should start with hers. I just hope his wife thinks it as swell idea as the Advocate.
    You can forward this last part to your PR and Finance departments. You just lost a subscriber. Keep up the good work.

    November 16, 2008 at 1:09 p.m.

  • Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    November 14, 2008 at 12:31 p.m.

  • I fail to see the newsworthiness of publishing peoples names and salaries. If the information is public, why not allow people to find it for themselves? If it was enough to cause a heated debate in your own office, can you imagine how many people you are going to piss of by doing it? Not to mention, pissing off many of the people who are employed to serve you? Yeah, good thinkin.

    November 14, 2008 at 12:28 p.m.

  • GabeSemanza:
    You really miss the whole point on government tax dollars here.  Government entities are required to report hiring information to the state and other agencies to ensure that diversity is taken into consideration.  But while we should be careful to hire employees of different gender, race and ethnicity, we also must be vigilant to hire the most qualified.  So how will giving names of individuals benefit your cause?  Have you taken into consideration that once people know how much someone makes that it could affect them socially...not to mention their safety?  Take for instance someone who can't afford to live in one of these $200,000+ homes with great security systems that builders make in Victoria.  If that individual lives in a neighborhood that is, well shall we say, not as safe as one would wish, and their neighbor knows that they make a few dollars more, can that not perhaps put them in jeopardy?  As I said before, too much individual information is already public thanks to the internet and databases that are readily accessible at ones fingertips. 
    If you really want to be fair in your evaluation, you should consider education and experience.  In addition, you would need to know what job duties are assigned to a position since there is truly no comparison of many of the jobs to most private sectors.  Let's also add that you should know how many hours in a week that individual works.  Many salary employees work well beyond 40 hours a week both in the office, at home and on the road. 
    I do care about my tax dollars and where they are spent; however, I am more concerned about spending money for research on Tsi-tsi flies than on how much we pay someone to do a job.  If a ditch digger is making $20 an hour than God bless him or her.  It is certainly not a job that I wish to have. 

    November 14, 2008 at 7:35 a.m.

  • Aha!  It's not about who...it's about what.....sex & race.  The Advocate thinks it has sunk it's teeth into something nefarious like women & minorities being paid less & wish to blow the story wide open, of course it will be at taxpayers expense.

    November 14, 2008 at 12:23 a.m.

  • Gabe,
    This is a bad idea on so many levels I don't know where to begin.  
    If you want to account for expenditures of public funds, list the job title and salary.  There is no reason to include names, and certainly not age, sex or race.  Are you then going to create reports on the bio demo breakdown of all employees?   Unless you run statistics and create reports the information is meaningless, except to the idle curious.  
    I went to all three of the of database sources you cited and none of them have anything more than name, position and salary.  No age, no tenure, no "gender" or race.  Even a federal employee salary database only gives name, title and federal employee rank.  As stated by others, I find this quite off putting and unnecessary and an invasion of privacy.
    Yes, I am a state employee.  I am neither proud nor ashamed of my salary, but frankly, it's just not any of your business.  Surely my name is not important to show accountability.
    BTW...those posting to this blog need to realize they must also post to the initial story as well. 

    November 13, 2008 at 9:43 p.m.

  • Towncryer: While we still work through the ethics of publishing online databases, I assume the same filter that's applied to one public salary database would be applied to all -- unless information within one database cries for certain other information to be released. But if we don't publish names with UHV's database, for example, then we wouldn't for the city's, county's and Victoria College's database, I assume.
    Your driver's license and Social Security numbers aren't important to the public. But your age, race and sex may be. Are you curious if the governmental or tax-paid institution you work for pays fairly to all without considering sex and race? I'd hope so.
    You ask why I don't reveal this same information about myself and my loved ones. Neither my loved ones nor I work for a public, tax-paid institution. I work for a private company. When people choose to work for public entities, I'd argue, and make their living with the money taken from the public's paychecks, employees choose the possibility of added scrutiny. The same goes for politicians.
    You also ask if I really care about a custodian's salary. I care about where the public's tax dollars go to, whether they be used to employ a manager, janitor or pave a road. Public institutions need to be held accountable.
    This debate, while sensitive and controversial, seems to hinge on this question: Should public information be made public? To me, it's a no-brainer. Of course, my opinion does not reflect the whole of the newspaper's Ethics Board and others who work at the Advocate.

    November 13, 2008 at 2:56 p.m.

  • Being a public employee, I feel like this is a serious intrusion of my privacy.  I don't mind the fact that the public may want to know the position and salary; but let's be honest, my name, age and race are none of your business.   With all the other information readily available via the internet, why don't I just leave you my driver's license number and social security number as well?  Anyone, for the good of the public, who is truly interested can make an individual request to the institution rather than make a public request that is published in the newspaper.  Here is an idea.  Why don't you reveal the same about yourself and your loved ones? 
    I have a few questions of my own.  Do you really care what a custodian is making or are you asking for everyone to muddy your real question of what are the executives being paid?  Where do the lines of "public" government lead?  Do you include all city and county employees? Will Victoria College salaries also addressed in this or are ties between the Advocate and other institutions such as Victoria College going to circumvent their public scrutiny? 

    November 13, 2008 at 2:42 p.m.

  • Thanks for the comments, ceegee2010.:
    Just to be clear: Public salary information is, by law, public information. The proper channel to acquire this information is a simple public information request that can be made by anyone -- as we did -- of any institution that is funded by tax dollars.
    The information we requested includes these fields: Name, age, sex, race, job title, tenure and salary -- not addresses, Social Security numbers or other personal information.

    November 13, 2008 at 2:31 p.m.

  • As a government employee of the State of Texas, I vehemently oppose the Advocate, or anyone else for that matter, posting my personally identifiably information on a searchable database or any in any other manner. I have personal reasons for not wanting my personal information publicized. I am not opposed to my position and salary; that data is already a matter of public record and is available to anyone who goes through the proper channels to acquire it. Let me say that again...the PROPER channels.
    I also believe that VicAd would be setting themselves up to greater scrutiny, liability and possible lawsuits. What happens when a victim of domestic violence who has started a new life is discovered by his or her abusive spouse through information you've posted? Or when an employee becomes a victim of identity theft because of the personally identifiable information? I cannot fathom why anyone would need personal data associated with a position or salary except to cause strife, discord and malicious gossip, not only within the organization itself, but within the community as well. I cannot see where anything good would come of this.

    November 13, 2008 at 1:18 p.m.

  • With the recent federal bailout of some banks and now what looks like the Auto Industry those wages and salaries should be made public since tax dollars are being used to prop up "private" industries.
    As for making salaries and wages easy to find, that information is already available to the public.  All one has to do is ask for it.  Media does it all the time using the Freedom of Information Act.  If I recall, this information is also available to the public when the City, County, Victoria College and others hold their budget meetings. 
    A number of public entities already list their salary/ pay scales online.  If someone is truly interested they can find out, all it takes is a little effort.  As little effort as asking the question.
    Heck, whenever these jobs are posted the salary information is available for everyone to see.
    A few questions pertaining to how this topic came about:
    Is this really about public knowledge and the need /right to know? Or, is the Advocate just trying to stir something up?
    Is there a salary being paid in the city/county that someone has a problem with and the Advocate has been made aware of it?
    Also wondering why, if this is such a hot topic, was this information not presented in the paper during the city/county/VISD/various gov't entities budget processes?

    November 12, 2008 at 10:57 a.m.

  • bighorn...I understand the difference between public/private enterprises.  My point was that this information (the salary of a certain position) is already available to those that are interested.  Publishing the NAMES of the individuals is going beyond what is needed, and is an intrusion that can create nothing but problems.  The Advocate's Ethics Board, should they decide to publish the NAMES of indivividuals, should show that, in the interest of fairness, what their salaries are.  I want to know where my newspaper subscription money goes.

    November 12, 2008 at 9:03 a.m.

  • I don't understand the Leap of Logic regarding the paper and public officials. A private enterprise is just that. Private. Public service is funded by all taxpayers and should be revealed in totality.
    Is it possible that some on these boards don't understand the difference between the public and private sectors? Given the Federal actions taken of late, the line is getting fuzzy....

    November 12, 2008 at 7:47 a.m.

  • If you publish names, then the Victoria Advocate's "Public Service" Editor should step up to the plate and publish his salary for all to see. And then the members of the Advocate's Ethics Board should do the same. 
    Public service employees should not be singled out by name in this way simply because they are paid  with tax dollars. 

    November 12, 2008 at 6:47 a.m.

  • Then you are not far from making the leap of:  Since you are paid with tax dollars and we should know how much you are paid, our tax dollars are also paying for part (or all) of your health benefits, so we are also entitled to know all about your health history.  Where does the line get drawn on what we are "entitled" to know? 
    In theory, a generic listing of wage ranges would be acceptable, but I don't think names need to be attached.  As another poster noted, some positions can only be one person and an intelligent person could figure out who that was.

    November 12, 2008 at 6:32 a.m.

  • I'm not sure how I feel about this.  would this then lead to anyone anywhere in the world being able to put in a person's name and instantly be able to see whatthat person makes?

    November 12, 2008 at 12:03 a.m.

  • Serving the public? Is there such a noble person left in this society.
    Publish all public officials salary and benefit packages. The Nation, City, County, Water District, etc. Accepting of public funds should be transparent (isn't that a keen new word!).

    November 11, 2008 at 10:34 p.m.

  • Geez, and we wonder why California is out in left field & going broke...23% pay raise?!?  Hahahahahaha......wow.  Our city/county employees aren't union so I would be willing to bet they aren't being compensated nearly as well.  How about reporting how much is in the budget for the employees salaries & how many employees that is covering.  I still don't think any one should be mentioned by name. 

    November 11, 2008 at 9:43 p.m.

  • To add to this conversation, I'll share this link to the WikiFOiA/State Salary Database. It might be instructive to see what has been done elsewhere.

    November 11, 2008 at 9:08 p.m.

  • Interesting comments. I must agree with BigJ. There is enough intrustion into peoples' lives these days by the media (not singling out the VicAd, I mean ALL media). I understand government employees' salaries are paid for by our tax dollars, but I would like to see the VicAd and all other media adhere to ONE principle (although not much chance for that happening): repeat after me - "Just because I can doesn't mean I SHOULD". See, easy, right? Just as I still firmly believe the VicAd erred in printing grand juror info, I feel the same way about this subject. I understand newspapers walk a fine line between the public's need (right) to know and being sensitive to what many may view as confidential information. I say err on the side of good judgment, and again, just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD.

    November 11, 2008 at 7:44 p.m.

  • But Gabe, don't government employees also pay taxes?  So they are in a way paying their own salaries......

    November 11, 2008 at 6:40 p.m.

  • I agree. Good point, Shawn.

    November 11, 2008 at 6:39 p.m.

  • If you want to know where the money goes, why stop at salaries? Why not publish every last bit of expense, from salaries all the way down to office supplies? Don't you want to know exactly how much the city pays for each pen they buy?

    It's only fair to those whose personal information you want to expose to do a complete job. If you're doing this under the pretense of letting the taxpayer know where their money is going, let them know where ALL of their money is going, not just some of it.

    November 11, 2008 at 6:38 p.m.

  • Shawn: I understand your argument. But I'd argue private companies are different than publicly-funded institutions.
    I interviewed Andy Schotz, chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists' ethics committee.
    He said, "When people ask me if I'd be OK if my salary is published, I tell them, 'No. That's why I work for a private company.'"
    His larger point is that workers who accept public jobs -- with salaries and benefits funded by taxpayers -- chose the possibility of extra scrutiny. In essence, public salaries fall in the domain of the public's custody.
    I may help to pay the salary of a McDonald's employee when I buy a Big Mac, but I rarely eat there and when I do it's my choice to shell out the cash. Taxes are automatically withdrawn from our paychecks by the government to operate and pay employees. Don't you think we should know where that withdrawn money goes?
    Thanks -- Gabe

    November 11, 2008 at 6:26 p.m.

  • No,no,no you all are missing the point.  You don't HAVE to subscribe to tha Advocate or eat at McDonalds, BUT you do HAVE to pay taxes that is then used to pay the people who work for the city/county/federal government.  We do need to know HOW they are spending our money, but we don't NEED to know WHO is recieving the paycheck.
    I think you should list the positions & how much they are paid.  No need to list names.  If there is a discrepancy in pay due to senority, notate that, otherwise leave peoples names out.  It's a small town most likely people will figure it out anyway.

    November 11, 2008 at 6:25 p.m.

  • If the Advocate does this, they should also publish the salaries of all Advocate employees as well.

    The subscribers and advertisers should be able to see where their money goes, and the newspaper should put this in easy reach of their readers.

    And McDonald's should have little hand-outs at the counter so their customers can see evey employee's salaries. Their customer deserve to know where their money is going.

    You see where I'm going with this?

    November 11, 2008 at 6:17 p.m.

  • Even if you're paying that person's salary through your tax dollars, BIGJ?
    Should the public know how much a senator makes? A mayor? Councilperson? How about the police chief or city manager?
    Thanks -- Gabe

    November 11, 2008 at 6:16 p.m.