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Posts published in “Day: December 12, 2006”

How your money’s spent, and on whom

We noted a couple of weeks ago a web site which tracks congressional staffers and their pay. That information often is hard to come by in the world of Congress, though it isn't in most other government spheres. If you want to know how much someone who works in state or local government, and generally the federal government too, you have but (ordinarily) to ask. Those records are public.

As they should be. Your tax money pays those salaries; you should be able to know how your taxes are spent. In the interest of same, we ran some of those records (pay during a one-year period for Senate chiefs of staff).

The web site tracker, called LegiStorm, is now under attack from Congress for . . . well, letting people know how much congressional staffers earn. An e-mail we received from LegiStorm today reports, "I write because I wanted to let you know about a new story in Roll Call about what is effectively anti-LegiStorm legislation. The bill by Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) would make it impossible for LegiStorm to disclose how Congress spends its money on staff. As you know, our site www.legistorm.com is the first to publish all congressional staff salaries."

The LegiStorm editor remarks, "Congressman Wicker would do better to focus on the needs of Hurricane Katrina victims in his state than to try to prevent the disclosure of how he and his colleagues spend taxpayer dollars. He is trying to prevent the dissemination of important public information by introducing this anti-LegiStorm legislation."

We periodically see people who work for government who take more abuse than they should, but if public servants (and let's never forget that that's what they are) want trust from the people who pay your salaries, then they have to stay transparent. If not, the rest of us inevitably will be wondering why.

Oh, and once again, if you're interested in checking out those congressional salaries - and please do before members of Congress try censoring the information - check it out, again, at www.legistorm.com.

Westlund completes a 180

Just a short time ago, we suggested that if Ben Westlund were interested in running again for major office - most specifically, an Oregon U.S. Senate seat was under discussion - one of his first logical moves would be to continue his transition from Republican to independent, and join the Democrats.

Ben WestlundToday, that's exactly what he did. This probably shouldn't be marked as necessarily predictive of a Senate or higher office race, but there are some good reasons a lot of people will take it as such.

For the moment, he becomes the 18th Senate Democrat, to 11 Republicans and (evidently, still) one independent (Avel Gordly, formerly a Democrat) who will vote with the Democrats - a basic chamber split of 19-11. It's an extra bit of cheer for legislative Democrats.

None of this, of course, got mentioned by Westlund in his statement about the transition.

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