3/8/08

Jumbo gov't union fights to preserve secrecy

In a state that is renowned for political corruption, insider deals, and pay-to-play politics, we can see no reason not to provide the public with as much information as possible regarding the inner workings of state government. Legislation proposed by Illinois state Rep. Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, would put information such as the names, positions and salaries of state employees on a public Web site.

“This is all public information that’s supposed to be accessible to the public,” Tryon said.

We could not agree more. And we are pleased that Woodstock Democrat Jack Franks is co-sponsoring the bill, making this a bipartisan McHenry County effort.

The legislation has run into substantial opposition from unions. Specifically, the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have stated that they oppose the proposed legislation. Union officials have argued that putting such information on the Internet would constitute an invasion of privacy and that it would be an unnecessary intrusion.

We disagree.

First, these are public employees, whose salaries are paid with tax dollars. The information already is public. Tryon’s proposal simply would make it much more accessible. We fail to see how allowing the public to better access public information amounts to an invasion of privacy.

Also, if the employees are concerned about privacy, then they should not be working for the state government. They should get a job in private industry where such information truly is private.

Franks said he could sympathize with the need to protect employees with low salaries and suggested that a threshold of about $25,000 be established. We do not believe such a threshold is necessary.

We hope that the legislation moves forward and becomes law.

(nwherald.com)

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