Take a guess what that number means. Need a hint? The source of that number comes from the Contra Costa Times, of Contra Costa, California.
Have you figured it out yet?
It’s what one person earned last year. But these weren’t the earnings of a celebrity, nor were they the earnings of a lottery jackpot winner, nor were they even the earnings of some evil capitalist.
This person works for the government. Not the federal government, mind you. Not even a state government. This person works for local government, but at a regional level rather than a municipal level.
According to the story in the Contra Costa Times, this person is the chief executive officer of the Washington Township health district of Alameda County, California. The news organization is working on compiling a database revealing salaries of all public employees in the San Francisco Bay area, and they’ve provided two links for those who wish to peruse the database: here and here.
I have two thoughts that spring to mind.
Umm . . . are we talking about . . . the PUBLIC HEALTH sector? You, know, the health sector that’s NOT capitalistic, that’s supposedly compassionate yet efficient and not overly expensive?
And after you look through more of that database for that one small segment of the country called the Bay Area, and you eyeball some other salaries of public health officials, could it make you question whether Obamacare will bring any improvement? Oh, and, how about that PUBLIC OPTION? Hmmm? Will that add up to savings?
Talking heads in the Cleveland area have been talking about regionalism. There are already some regional bureaucracies in place in Northeast Ohio. (NOACA comes to mind . . . yuck!)
Here’s the rub: What kind of input do voters have on regional bureaucracies?
Would this CEO of a regional public health district in California be raking in $876,831 (her base salary, alone, is $633,393) if the voters had a say in the matter?
Don’t regional bureaucracies lend themselves to patronage appointments that are untouchable by voters? What accountability mechanisms would voters have at their disposal?
From what the Contra Costa Times reports, it was like pulling teeth just to get these salaries disclosed to the public. The fight went all the way to California’s Supreme Court in 2007 just to clarify that these salaries are matters of public record. Beyond salaries, what other information might be lingering in the shadows of regional bureaucracies?
And when thinking about what reforms you’d like to see in Cuyahoga County government, be wary of proposals that place emphasis on appointed rather than elected officials as key to the reforms, because appointed officials are a step removed from voters. Appointments don’t make government less political, nor do they make government less prone to scandal. I still think the best remedy for Cuyahoga and other Ohio counties would be simply to change the election years for commissioners to odd numbered years.