In Bell, California tempers boiled over. Citizens stood up. They engaged for change, directly.
And open government data may have stopped it, had it been implemented. The city manager was receiving a salary of over $800,000 USD. That is nearly twice President Obama’s salary.
Why did citizens not know. The salary was decided on in secret. Salaries were not reported. And the pension board that did know, were not allowed to release the information.
So this is the other side of the concerns voiced earlier in this post about disclosing salaries. We need to hit the right balance. The risk is more than just folks pulling down irrational salaries. In the case of Bell, California, these salaries blocked out the ability to fuly employ public safety officials. It created layoffs, that should not have been necessary. It starved out service delivery mechanisms that could have served her citizens well.
Instead, the secrecy protected an incredible salary, for just one man.