Houston Chronicle lists every municipal employees salary by name.

Now I am all for freedom of the press, and for taxpayers freedom to know what their tax dollars pay for, but I don't quite know how I feel about this yet. What is your opinion of the newspaper publishing everyone's salary in a easy to use database?

The database is available here

Unfortunately you cannot search by job title, and I have not gone through the whole thing looking for librarian. The Houston library site did have a few names in their contacts section I looked up. I kind of think the bilingual spokeswoman is underpaid, however I think the director is probably spot on.

The HPL has a very nicely presented website by the way.

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helpful/non-helpful

I can see this database being helpful and non-helpful. When I worked at Houston Public Library that several of my coworkers spent an unreasonable amount of time discussing my salary and how "rich" I must be. They didn't know that I had to move in with my mother after grad school because I couldn't afford student loan payments and rent. There was no way to convince them that HPL never gave anyone a salary in the high part of the salary range. You had to be superlibrarian to even get to the midrange salary. If I still worked there I guess this database could quell coworkers' curiosity about my pay (though I never understood workers that were super-obsessed about coworker's salaries, they always want to spend someone else's paycheck but never think about what expenses that person has). However I can see that library workers who are determined to be upset would now have concrete numbers to focus their grief on. This database would be helpful if someone was honestly underpaid for her level of expereince, education and performance she could then argue for better payment if others with similar skills were paid more but I don't think this database will be used this way. I'm sure the folks that are current employees of HPL and the other departments listed are upset about this information being made so easily searchable on the web but I do think it is part of the package when you're a public employee.

This was really helpful at NYPL when it happened

When I weas at NY Public Library back in the day and we were fighting the incredibly bad salaries, they published one of the salary lists for the local union (to which we blonged). Starting salaries in NYC libraries were lower than doormen's salaries. Lower than janitors. Lower than virtually every other job in NYC. That actualy helped us in the media to negotiate something a littler better.

Just the other day, I was

Just the other day, I was looking through a document listing salaries by job classification at the public library where I work, and I was disappointed to see it listed union member positions only and not "excluded" management. I'd be interested to see management's salaries. As for publishing this information, I believe the public has a right to know how their tax monies are spent, although I don't think it is really necessary to list names. Except for the top dogs - director, management, etc. These positions are high profile.

So what happened to the link

the Chronicle appears to have waffled on what is being allowed to be seen by the taxpayers of Houston. or maybe something less sinister like a broken link has occurred. anyone know why this link doesn't work any longer? www.chron.com/databases/publicemployeepay.html

Just a really slow response time (EOM)

OK, this is required: Just a really slow response time (EOM)

I've never had a problem with others knowing my salary

At all three of the major jobs I've ever had, all salary information has been visible to all staff. This creates a much calmer workplace in my opinion because there is never any mistrust around what people are making. I currently make more than some other people who are also librarians, but my salary is justified to all concerned.

At those jobs, our salaries were also easily publicly available by position and first name (last name and address were excluded for safety reasons so that staff couldn't be stalked). At one job, we even hosted the database on our site for several years (I don't think they do anymore).

It is no concern of mine and I have no particular hang-ups around what I make (though I understand that others do). I was warned before I was hired at all three jobs that salary information was completely open. I would only be concerned if I was told differently and then the rules changed later for no good reason.

Long Gone

Maybe if those folks would step outside the newsroom every now and then and actually meet some of the people they write about, they'd see that there are people who pass on better paychecks out of a genuine passion for serving public. I am not one of those anymore. I left the county a couple of years ago. Seeing the unguarded contempt with which the Chronicle and Channel 13 are treating government employees - all the way down to the lowliest bureaucrat - I'm really glad I finally got greedy enough to ditch public service for more money and fewer working hours.

Very annoyed at the Chronicle

My salary was one of the ones they listed and I really did not appreciate it one bit--there is a huge difference between being publicly available if someone goes through some effort to locate the information and being way-too-easily available because of the idiots at the Chronicle. Before their site was overwhelmed, it was possible to sort by job title and then page to the relevant sections. I really didn't need to know which of my co-workers are getting short-changed and all the other related reactions this information has caused. There are also a number of nosy acquaintances and others that I don't want plugging my name in and seeing what I make, none of whom ever would have gone looking for the info on their own in a million years.

OUTRAGE

As an employee in the public sector myself, however not in Harris County, but a surrounding county, I am outraged. Yes, I know my salary is public information and is attainable, as are everyone's who works in the public sector. But how many of you actually ever went and looked at that information? How many of you have now seen salary information because it was so accessible? I don't want to be able to see my co-workers salary in two seconds. I don't want any Joe Blow to be able to see my name and salary and position, merely because they are surfing the web. My second problem is that the Houston Chronicle, a NEWSpaper, could have made the CHOICE to only list the position and the salary. The Chronicle had no actual story to go along with this new database. They had no point at all, nothing to report, except a database for public viewing, and the fact they they chose to include names is tacky, sleazy, and underhanded. What kind of animosity would it create in your workplace if there was a database that listed you and everyone in your company's salary and you could view it? I realize that our salaries are payed by taxpayers, but guess what? I'm one of them as well! Unfortunately much of the comments on the Chronicle website imply that public service workers are servants and therefore subservient to the public. It seems to have created an even greater wall between those of us in the public sector and those in the private sector. We are not your servants, nor are we subservient. We are just like you, in that we have found a job that enables us to pay our bills and live our life. Somedays we love our jobs, other days work makes us want to pull our hair out. Sounds just like YOUR days working in the private sector, huh? Had the Chronicle posted only positions and salaries, there wouldn't be nearly the upset there has been. The Chronicle crossed the line, ethically and morally, and they did it all in the name of getting more hits on their website so they could get more advertising because the sales of their paper is diminishing.

Torn

I am all for the listing of the salaries, but I am not so keen on associating them with the names.

Sure some you can figure out quite easily - the mayor, the police chief. However is it really important to know that Maria the telephone operator, or Edgar the jail guard makes $43K.

If somoene is that concerned, or curious they can quite simply call the various personnel offices and ask how much Maria or Edgar make, or who the cop that made three million in overtime is. I don't think the rank and file need to be identified by name in such a public manner.

It is interesting to note that someone posted the voter registration information on some of the Chronicle staff in the comments on the newspaper's site. That information is public records as well, and they were applying the old good for the goose, good for the gander axiom.

This is wrong!

I am also for transparent government, but there is a difference between making information available and publishing it in the paper. What's the paper's motivation for doing this? It is beyond the government watchdog role. It seems vindictive.

Most employees in the public sector don't have much to say about their own salaries, so publishing names with salaries makes the issue personal.

does a name have to be identified?

As much as I believe the salaries should be made available easily, I'm uncomfortable seeing the employee's name attached to it. It's not illegal and probably not unethical, but still . . . it does create hard feelings. The local paper in Lansing, MI did the same thing about a year ago with state employees--big uproar. I personally do not care if it's myself, particularly when I'm a public employee, but some people do.

FOI

Like it or not it's public information. Anyone can come down to the Library and look at the budget and see what we're getting paid, or for that matter call up and ask us directly how much we're getting paid.

I can't believe how much cops make in overtime

they almost double their salaries with overtime... is it better to have one overworked cop or to hire a second one?

I do not like it either

I am all for transparent government, but this can create real tension within the work place. HR keeps salaries under lock and key for a reason, because this can create a very uncomfortable work environment.

I no longer work for Houston Public but this certainly does not make me regret my decision to leave. (BTW the pay still stinks)

Not quite

HR does keep salaries under lock and key in private businesses, but not so much in the public sector. A key difference is the use of public pay bands. I work for the state as a librarian and the job posting clearly listed a pay range of ~31-39k/year (OUCH!). Anyone can look that up and see it. The state also publishes a list of pay bands matched to job titles/descriptions. The only semi-private information is where in the pay band the person falls. Even then it is easy to make a reasonable guess on what the person makes. So ultimately one knows the salaries of other people within a few thousand dollars regardless. This contrasts quite strongly with the private sector where it is not at all uncommon for say a new hire to be making 20+% more than people who have been in the same position for years.

So really, I do not see it being much of an issue for government employees.

no sir, I don't like it

but since most of my salary is made up from paper clips and blue pens I take home, viewing my name next to a very tiny salary shouldn't bother me. ...did I say "tiny"? I meant "huge."

I'm shocked

Three comments already and none were about this being a good thing since people might start to take note of the lousy salaries of librarians?

State employee

I work for the state of Oklahoma (at an academic library) so my salary is also available in a database (here). Not only does it not bother me, but I also think it's very important in the interests of transparent government.

The Boston Herald did the

The Boston Herald did the same thing with state employees. It was useful. When you're being paid with taxpayer dollars you should expect that your salary will be out there. But it's something that public employees don't consider enough. I've had long talks with employees on the subject and there was a major dust up at a former university over the president's compensation package (which involved a large amount of money from the foundation.)

Bloombergesque?

How's that for transparent government? Took what Bloomberg did with his office space over to the accounting department. Interesting, but I'm with you Blake not exactly sure how I feel about it yet. Could make for a slippery slope.

My Opinion

My newspaper did it, my salary was right there on the front page of the paper, didn't bother me at all.

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