Monday, May 2, 2011

Burbank: The Feelings of Our Worst Workers are More Important than Transparency

Yesterday we noted that automatic bonuses for public employees are a sizable yet largely overlooked component of many broke cities' budgets. To us, it seems reasonable to expect cities to make information on these bonuses public, allowing everyone to know the facts about how public workers are compensated. Well, according to the LA Times, the city of Burbank disagrees.

Yep, there's no fighting us.
At issue is a lawsuit against the city courtesy of the Burbank Leader, which is seeking access to bonuses paid to individual Burbank city workers. The LA County town, which is currently facing an $8.7 million budget gap for next fiscal year, has divulged that it paid $1 million in guaranteed bonuses in 2009-2010, though the funds were broken down only into large aggregates of employees. When the Leader filed a request for records on the bonuses awarded to each city worker earlier this year, Burbank turned them down. Their rationale? Burbank believes that releasing individual workers' bonus information would require releasing data on performance evaluations as well. In other words, the public doesn't have a right to know how city and public works employees are compensated because it would publicly shame the least competent among them. In the words of Judie Wilke, the city's Management Services Director, releasing the information would "create embarrassment, morale disruptions and personal dissension in the workplace". Sounds like an airtight argument against government transparency to us.


Post a Comment