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L.A. County employee salaries hidden for now

September 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Should public employees' salaries be made public?Some employees have expressed concerns over their safety. But a list detailing how much Los Angeles County employees make won't be a secret for long.

One nurse who works for the county said they should be made public right away.

"Absolutely, it's public record," said South Gate resident Marianne Sorensen. "So incidents like the case in Bell don't keep happening over and over, and with the way the economy is, people can't justify getting salaries like that."

Santa Monica resident Nishant Narayan agrees.

"People have a right to know how much of their tax money is going to fund different jobs in the public sector," Narayan said.

Media requests stemming from the Bell pay scandal have asked for the salaries of highly paid county employees.

In a memo released by the county's lawyer, Andrea Sheridan Ordin, she asks department heads to have employees submit personal safety concerns over their names and salaries being made public.

Ordin's own salary is posted as just under $300,000 per year.

A state Supreme Court ruling in 2007 ruled that public employees' names and salaries should be made public.

"The law is that it's a public record," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "Frankly, I don't know what the problem is with the county's lawyers on this."

On the county's website, there are hundreds of different jobs listed with their salaries, but no names.

However, county department heads are posted with their names and salaries.

District Attorney Steve Cooley is paid $297,000 per year and Sheriff Lee Baca's yearly salary is $284,000.

Yaroslavsky said there are a few exceptions.

"The only ones that would not be are highly sensitive law enforcement people engaged in intelligence or certain detectives," he said. "A small number of people."

The county isn't denying access to employees' salaries. A spokesperson points out that the county has asked for a two-week extention allowed by law to gather the information and determine whose public salary will remain private.

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