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Vindy introduces Government Watch



Published: Sun, April 17, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


When government officials such as Mahoning County Engineer Dick Marsico or Prosecutor Paul Gains get tested on their pay-raise decisions as they have recently, they immediately are quick to say that they are good stewards of the public money they are given.

Similarly, you can hear school officials and various elected leaders echo the same thing.

Try to find a public boss who has not said they’re doing their best with your dollars.

If this were entirely true, then this would be true:

You could go to every website of every local entity in the Valley and see a current list of public salaries.

You would immediately know the salaries and benefits of top administrators — judges, superintendents and elected officeholders.

A click away would be the most recent contracts that direct work rules for teachers, road drivers or court employees.

Here’s your Sunday online test: Can you find this above information on the site of the school, village or county that is tasked to serve you?

You likely will not find it.

If you do, please email me so I can celebrate that government.

If the website service is hardly welcoming, less welcoming can be going to your local office as an average citizen and asking for such information. You thought you waited forever for Cedar Point roller coasters? The Millennium coaster has nothing on a local official who’s hell-bent on serving you as he or she defines it.

With that, I welcome you to Government Watch — a new effort by The Vindicator that we hope will give you further enlightenment into your tax dollars.

Today is the start of a process for us. It is by no means the end.

Government Watch is The Vindicator’s online repository for all those other bits of government information that you won’t see on their own sites.

Online now on vindy.com, you will find 10 years of salaries for Mahoning County. You will find Youngstown city salaries. For Salem readers, you will find five-year spending and salary histories.

The Western Reserve Fire District has all its salary and spending plans.

Poland schools offered this year’s salaries — but more on that in a minute.

So that’s our start for Government Watch.

It’s a bit bumpy. Some of the labeling is still raw, and you will have to wander a bit. All the documents must be downloaded to your desktops.

But unlike our government websites — you will have documents that shed light on some of the things most hotly debated in the SB 5 furor.

This is also your site in that if you have access to such documents, send them to us, and we will consider them.

We’d like work rules and contracts, sick-time payouts, raise histories, etc.

As I said, I also intend to celebrate government workers as well. Soon, you will read the list of concessions accepted by the Mahoning County deputies and any other similar measures.

This is not easy, and it’s typically not made easy by the folks we pay.

The irony of our launch of Government Watch is that we had our most unique challenge in, of all places, Poland schools — the place my kids call home and where my wife draws a paycheck.

We requested five years of salaries, but got one. I guess that’s a start — as is Government Watch overall. It’s a start.

Please email me with feedback and other records that will help fill this valuable page.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes e-mails about stories and our newspaper. E-mail him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com.


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