Following the lead of sister paper the Daily News, the San Bernardino Sun and Inland Valley Daily-Bulletin got hold of the salaries of county workers out there and decided to web-publish not just the numbers and job titles, but the names — of everybody. That lasted just a day before Editor Steve Lambert caved to the howls of so many potential readers and removed the names from the website. "They made a compelling case," he says. His editor's note:
The salaries of public employees are public information.
The state Supreme Court has ruled as such, noting that anyone who is on the public payroll is ultimately accountable to the public.
It was with that in mind that this newspaper posted the salaries of all San Bernardino County employees on our web site earlier this week.
On Wednesday, we chose to remove the names of those employees from the list, publishing only the job title and salary. We did so not because we had to, but because we felt it was the right thing to do after listening to and reading the stories of numerous county workers who took the time to call or email us.
Their argument - that the greater good of publishing public salaries could be achieved without "outing" them individually on our web site - caused us to reflect on our standards of discretion when deciding whether to publish or not publish public information.
Lambert talks about the decision to publish — and unpublish — in a podcast. When the Daily News told you back in September what your neighbors who work at the DWP make, the note from Editor Ron Kaye ran with the story. But even now you can still search by name and see what your friend — or everyone named Smith or Jose — makes a year.