The witch hunt continues: Gannett Media inputs salaries of most WI public employees into online searchable databases

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Gannett Media has spent 7 months formally requesting, paying for, and in some cases manually entering information into online searchable databases so that you can see what most public employees in the State of Wisconsin made in the latest available fiscal year. Excluded from the results: those who made less than $25,000 in that time period.

From their site,
“The listing includes state, federal and U.S. Postal Service employees, as well as those who work in Wisconsin’s 72 counties; 91 cities, towns or villages with a population of 10,000 or more; 26 University of Wisconsin campuses; 16 technical colleges and 424 public school districts.”

Here’s the editor explaining the project:

This backup link will take you directly to the site.

According to that same site, this is a 6-part series with the public accessing the data in stages.
“What We Pay: Timeline
♦ Sunday, Jan. 6: University of Wisconsin System, Wisconsin Technical College System

♦ Sunday, Jan. 13: Public school districts

♦ Sunday, Jan. 20: State of Wisconsin

♦ Monday, Jan. 21: Federal and USPS

♦ Sunday, Jan. 27: Cities, towns, villages (populations over 10,000)

♦ Sunday, Feb. 3: Counties”

A couple of thoughts:
*In the context of what Wisconsin has experienced, this is not a non-partisan activity. This action stokes the fires of division set ablaze by Scott Walker when he “dropped the bomb” in February of 2011.

*This is not what these public workers signed up for when they took their jobs. In some cases there will be individuals who are hoping to not be discovered by an abusive former partner or spouse.

*Who’s sponsoring this: When I called up this special project’s link, the most prominant ad I saw on the site was for Hobby Lobby – a rabidly right wing company that has proclaimed itself free from a need to comply with the Affordable Healthcare Act as passed by congress and signed by the Obama administration and approved by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Ads for the following companies also show in the same space on Gannett’s database site as I refreshed the screen this afternoon:
FOX World Travel
Village Realty and Development

*This is the same company that published the names of 25 Gannett Wisconsin Media journalists and nine Appleton Post-Crescent journalists who signed Walker’s recall papers after they ferreted out their names from a database put together by a right wing group by the state’s Government Accountability Board. See more at the March 24th story by Appleton Wonk, Should Journalists Sign Recall Petitions?

Ironically – or fittingly – Gannett is already in hot water for publishing the names and addresses of gun owners in New York State. Critics are saying that THAT release of information to the public endangers current and retired law enforcement officers and makes it easy for burglars to locate guns to steal.

Of interest:
IF you’re unhappy with the Gannett corporation, allow me to inform you of the other organizations that it has collaborated with – possibly still is collaborating with.
The Gannett organization in the form of the Green Bay Press-Gazette and The Post-Crescent of Appleton partnered with the following organizations to provide what they called “personal news stories” on Wisconsin politics with a “We the People Wisconsin” series: WFRV,
Channel 5, in Green Bay;
the Wisconsin State Journal;
WISC, Channel 3, in Madison;
WisPolitics;
Wood Communications and
the La Crosse Tribune;
WKBT, Channel 8, in La Crosse;
and the Chippewa Herald

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  13 comments for “The witch hunt continues: Gannett Media inputs salaries of most WI public employees into online searchable databases

  1. Jack Craver
    January 7, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I don’t think this is a witch hunt. For it to be a witch hunt, there would have to be a witch. The facts Gannett is collecting can be used for a variety of different ideological agendas. They could be used, for instance, to argue that teachers don’t get paid enough.

  2. Dino Corvino
    January 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Can I ask how the thesis of Who is paying for this is all that relevant? Clearly Gannett is paying for this. Their reporters are doing work, aggregating information, and are putting together a series of stories.

    Is the theory that the newsroom at Gannett newspaper are completely at the control of the advertisers? If so, provide any bit of evidence save for a rotating Hobby Lobby ad that did not come up the TEN TIMES I looked at this story.

    Further, this is valuable reporting. It gives context to what UW professors make. It debunks the myth that they are all over paid, corduroy blazer wearing pipe smokers. It gives context when we again begin to attack education funding.

    I find this blog post to be incredibly cynical, and not in the cool way I had hoped for.

  3. Jeff Pieterick
    January 7, 2013 at 10:41 am

    The implication being that a “healthy economy” is one in which everyone has been beaten down into accepting the lowest common denominator as an acceptable income level.

    This “economy” of which they speak seems to only belong to those entitled few who can increase their own wealth on the profits gained by cheating others out of a livable, sustainable wage.

    It’s madness. And it doesn’t work in a consumer economy. And you don’t need to look very far to see the truth in it. Without consumer wealth to drive it, our economy remains dead in the water with no wind at it’s back. But the party in the Captain’s Quarters continues, at least until it can’t anymore for lack of contributions stolen from the crew.

  4. RRRRRRRRRR
    January 7, 2013 at 3:10 am

    The searchable data base that already exists for public K-12 employees is extremely misleading.

    Most who checked that site when Walker dropped his “bomb” thought that the dollar amount listed was actual salary. They naturally compared it to their own instead of comparing it to their salary and the cost of ALL benefits. Most Wisconsinites have no idea what they ACTUALLY cost their employer when ALL benefits/payroll expenses are factored in. They compared “apples & oranges” which led to more demagoguery just as the Corporatist-Would-Be Oligarchs want. Imagine my surprise when my $60,000 “wage” (33 year veteran teacher with two master’s degrees) was listed as $90,000+!

  5. Mike
    January 6, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    This doesn’t show how much of each salary is paid for with taxpayer money. Many UW salaries are paid for with direct revenue for services rendered and private research grants and contracts and have nothing to do with taxpayer money.

  6. Steve Heminger
    January 6, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    This is why I retired rather than be “laid off” and replaced by two just out of college graduates. There is no respect for those who service the public sector. This type of journalism will be “Fair and Balanced” when Gannett published by name those who pay no taxes and make an unGodly amount of money from their use of the system. I have no problem with ANYONE making an honest living and being paid for the same.

  7. StevenKeithTait
    January 6, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    This sounds like information annually published in local (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)paper as required by state law.

    What am I missing?

    • nichole
      January 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      Agreed, this isn’t exactly news. Public employee salary information is already publicly available.

      • January 7, 2013 at 3:55 pm

        Then why did Gannett spend 7 months on the project, Nichole?

  8. January 6, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Searchable by name? Great. There’s just no way this could go wrong, right?

    • January 6, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      I should add, there seems to me to be an assumption at play – that public employees shouldn’t be making more than $25,000 and that anyone who makes $50,000 is somehow overpaid. Otherwise, why exclude those who make under $25,000 from the database and publish the names of anyone who makes more than $50,000 in the paper if the goal isn’t to shame and intimidate?

      • Jamie
        January 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm

        Why aren’t private sector comparables listed? As someone who worked at the bargaining table for quite a few years, the public employees in the system I worked for made far less in benefits and salary than the private sector. It is because we ARE public employees that our salaries and benefits are scrutinized, and I have no problem with that, but it is unfair to not have comparables included in your research. Without the use of com parables, it appears that you are on a witch hunt, trying to make it look like public employees are grossly overpaid, when in reality, many are underpaid when a comparison is done with similar private sector occupations.

  9. Brent Loren Slensker
    January 6, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Brought to you by the Koch Bros.

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