The Argus goes after State Government. Again.
And the evil part of me hopes they succeed.

I'm sitting at my computer recuperating this morning, wrapped in a blanket, after spending most of Father's Day miserably ill with the flu. That must be God punishing me for the tone of anonymous comments on this website.

Anyway, as I'm looking back at what I missed yesterday, it looks like the biggest story from Sunday's news was the state's largest newspaper taking their monthly shot at State Government. Again. This time it's over trying to get a list of all state employees, and what they make. Which inevitably ends up being their take on how most of state government threw up roadblocks, etcetera and so on.

I'm somewhat ambivalent on this issue. I know that if I want someone's salary information on an individual basis, all I have to do is to call up the State Auditor's office, and they'll provide it in very short order. It's certainly not a closed system. But to request the information en masse as the Argus is doing, I'm not sure I see the purpose other than to continue their vendetta.

If they print it, will I read it? You bet. And I'll not only read it, I'll use it. The State Employee list is great for targeting political mailings and fund raisers. I'd go in and target everyone making over a certain amount, and they're almost guaranteed to be political donors of some sort and at some time. At the very least, they're concerned with who their new boss might (or might not) be in any gubernatorial election.

Scoffing at the idea that the employee list might be targeted? It s has been done before, and will be done again.

Traditionally, let me be the first to tell you what an absolute pain in the @$ it has always been to get that information. One year, I had volunteers in front of a city phone book along with a state employee phone book in order to identify them for a mailing. Hunting and pecking one name at a time. And that was the easiest way to do it. Bleaugh. Not the kind of thing you do just on a lark. It's extremely labor intensive.

Now the Argus wants to get it all? Go for it guys. Just make sure you put in your website in a nice table format, with their city of residence. From start to finish, that would take me a whole 5 minutes to run against a statewide voter database. If they post it in a .pdf? Maybe 10 minutes.

My point is that if you're really concerned about someone's salary, call the Auditor's office at 773-3341 with a name, and you'll have the information as quick as can be. If you want to subject these employees to junk mailings galore, then support the Argus.

Because at the end of the day, that's all that exercise will accomplish. Creating just another telemarketing list.


Anonymous said…
If the Argus wasn't run by a bunch of liberal whining hacks, I might care. But since their purpose in life seems to be to attack and slime Republicans and their newsroom is filled with liberals I simply don't trust them to be fair. Gannett Corporation could have a good product in this market, but they churn out garbage.
Anonymous said…
Good post.
Anonymous said…
Two points here. You can get the info, just not in the way the Argus wants it. They've got the resources, and apparently the will, to pursue this, but they want somebody else to do the work for them. Based on what PP said, all they need to do is look at the employee directory on the state website and ask, individually, for each salary. The other point: 9:14, don't hold your breath. This is Gannett's MO with their McPapers. Garbage in, garbage out.
Anonymous said…
I would favor making the state employee job/salary list public AFTER the Argus makes it's job/salary list public.

Anybody curious what Garson, Beck, Whitney and Woster make?
Anonymous said…
10:01, as much as I'd like to agree with you (I'm 9:41)....the Argus is a private company and they are under no obligation to give that info. But what they are looking for is info that is taxpayer-supported. I do think, though, that if the really want this info, they should work for it.
Anonymous said…
I'd go in and target everyone making over a certain amount, and they're almost guaranteed to be political donors of some sort and at some time.

Sure you would PP.
PP said…
10:48, apparently you don't know much about who gives to gubernatorial campaigns, do you?

While the amount given in recent campaigns might not match aggregate groups of major donors, they were in for more than a trifle.
Anonymous said…
"Because at the end of the day, that's all that exercise will accomplish. Creating just another telemarketing list."

Like this is such a huge problem in states like Iowa, ND and the scores of others that make this list easily accessible often right on the web?

Those in Pierre just love secrecy and even in cases like this where they are legally bound to release the information, they make it as hard as possible to get.

Now is this really that big of a deal? I don't put it on par with other government openness issues and attribute it more to the ongoing pissing contest going on between the Argus and Gov. Rounds but it still highlights the overall problem.
PP said…
SD moderate,

the thing is that it IS available. All they have to do is to ask for it one at a time.
Anonymous said…
Yes PP I know it is available, the point I was making was that Pierre and the dissemination government information are two things that sometimes don't go together very well and that even in cases like this were they are legally bound to provide the information they make it very time consuming and difficult unlike many other states that provide all the information in an easy to access format.

Is it a big deal to most? Of course not unless of course you are the Argus Leader
Anonymous said…
Here in north dakota you cannot get a list of each individual employee and their salary. You must inquire each individually. ND does have a nice fact sheet in pdf format

SD & ND are much alike, as are other states i suspect.
Anonymous said…
Why can't the state government make the list available just like the cities and the schools? What makes the state so special? I hate to side with the Argus Leader on this but the list should be available.
If PP and the other political hacks want to telemarket...go for it.
Anonymous said…
Make the list available and perhaps people will recognize how little most state employees are actually paid. But the manner of doing it is just flat out laziness on the part of the Argus. Complain because the "servants" that you pay so little (you claim to be the employer) don't do what you want the way you want it when you snap your fingers?? Insanity.
Anonymous said…
No, I think you're wrong 9:34. They're probably hesitant to release it because of how MUCH most State employees make, especially the upper level people, and there would be an uproar. If it had to include every politically paid-off hack held over from the Janklow years (and protected by Rounds) who does nothing, the public could scrutinize who was doing what to earn their $$$.
You say, PP, it's easy since all you have to do is ask, ONE AT A TIME! There are THOUSANDS of State employees. Are you going to make a seperate call for each one, or just stay on the line and keep asking for three days???
Plus every one could see how many "Rounds" and other relatives are on the list, and see people who their neighbors know do NOTHING to earn their big salary, plus early retirement, and nice pension. It belongs out in the open for all to see in the light of day!!
Douglas said…
Well, if the info is available, maybe the Argus can get as many of us non state employees as there are state employees and then each of us can be given a name and can make a separate request to the state and then the Argus can do the work of putting it all together.

Somehow I think it might not be all that hard for a list to be generated. If it is lazy of the Argus to not want to do it, it is profoundly lazy for the keepers of the data to not want to do it.

Taxpayers ought to also know how much the hired consultants are getting paid.

When I worked for the dear state of SD, I got the impression that a few barely competent administrators were more than willing to pay a consultant excessive wages so they would not have to actually hire a competent employee who might ultimately be a threat to the administrator's free lunch and security.
Anonymous said…
We live in a facist society in old SD, and Big Brother Mike doesn't have to listen to anyone. And he doesn't. If you don't like secrecy in government, stop electing facists.
Anonymous said…
Damn facists.

I'm too lazy to call the Bureau of Personnel with PP's name to find out how much he made. And I can't figure out how to navigate the website to find out the salary ranges of any particular job that I want to know how much generally makes.

So I ignorantly follow the Argus' lead and rant out at the government, who doesn't give me enough money that I so deserve and pays their employees so incredibly much that I can't hardly buy McDonalds for my 12 kids more than twice a week.

Damn those rich state employees. Damn them!

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