Want to know how much your public servants are making? Hop on the Miami-Dade County website, click "Transparency," and select "Employee Salaries." In just a few seconds, you can get salary information on anyone who works for the county. Say, for instance, Barbara Jordan! As county commissioner, the site helpfully reveals, she earns $50,000 a year.
Jordan thinks that search is too easy. She has introduced a resolution that would remove the salary database from the county website.
Why? According to her resolution, "The County must counterbalance the need for transparency with the safety of its employees and the need to refrain from providing information which, when taken out of context, would mislead the public."
"The information is always available through a public information request," says Jordan, who adds that she pays for things like floral arrangements out of her pocket. "You are putting county employees up for scrutiny far more than the public demands. We don't know who this information is being shared with. It could lead to identity theft."
One fact on the website: County Attorney Robert Cuevas makes well over $300,000 annually
"People don't realize that Bob has been here 30 years," Jordan explains. "It took him 30 years to get to that salary, but that information isn't there."
Another listing on the site: Cathy Jackson, the director of Audit and Management Services, earns more than $200,000. And is it misleading to tell people that Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus will make almost $400,000 this year? It seems to be simply a fact. Just like it's a fact that the county's four deputy mayors are each paid more than $200,000 and that every county attorney makes well over six figures.
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What is misleading is to claim to be a transparent government and then hide information from the public.
Of course, even if the resolution passes (it's scheduled to be discussed at next month's county commission meeting), residents can still obtain salary figures; they'll just have to fill out a records request and then wait several weeks for a response.
"That's the proper procedure," says Jordan.