Editors Note: Our founder and former CEO Adam Andrzejewski is quoted in this political column of the Belleville News-Democrat. Last year, For The Good of Illinois pioneered the Open The Books portal and it has generated local, regional and national news stories. Please read the story that follows…
BY BRIAN BRUEGGEMANN
February 13, 2012
There’s an app for that.
For The Good of Illinois, an open-government group founded by former gubernatorial hopeful Adam Andrzejewski, has a free iPhone and iPad app that, with the touch of a button, will show you the salaries of government employees in your area.
Using your device’s GPS coordinates, the app will list, from highest to lowest, the pay of state and local government employees within a radius of 5, 10, 25 or 50 miles. Or you can input a ZIP code, rather than using your current location. Employees also can be searched by name.
The most recent salary level available is displayed next to the person’s name. You can click on an employee to see the person’s 10-year salary history — in graph form, if you want.
As an example, using the 5-mile radius for 62026, an Edwardsville ZIP code, I found that the top salary, $333,965.75 for 2010, goes to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift. His salary was $205,000 in 2004, the year he was appointed chancellor.
Coming in at 40th in that ZIP code is Venessa Brown, a professor of social work and Assistant Provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion at SIUE. Her salary for 2010 is $145,114.07. It was $68,727.82 in 2000.
Moving to 62222, a Belleville ZIP code, the top salary for 2010 goes to Belleville School District 118 Superintendent Matt Klosterman at $160,056.
Coming in at 20th in 62222 is Belleville West teacher Kathleen Baldus at $108,607, and 40th is St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney at $96,894.
Andrzejewski said the app, along with the organization’s salary database on its website, have received nearly 1 million queries from users.
“The average user on the app surfs it for 44 minutes,” he said. “Literally, you get on it and you have a hard time getting off of it. It’s that stunning.”
What are users’ responses?
“The typical response is, ‘I’m in the wrong business,'” he said. “People react very emotionally to what they find on the portal.”
The app, named Open The Books, took about eight months and about $100,000 in donations to develop, Andrzejewski said. It went live in late December.
The app soon will be available for Android phones, as well. And the database will be updated soon with 2011 salary information.
The database does not include federal employees. It includes local governments, such as park districts and townships, and municipalities, counties, colleges, universities and state employees.
For now, state employees — even ones who work in local offices — are listed as being employed in Springfield. An update planned within the next year will list them according to their work locations.
Andrzejewski said the goal of the app was to shine light on government pay and the resulting pensions.
“The salient question in Illinois politics, going forward, is quite simply, public employee pay and pensions,” he said. “This issue needed transparency and a highlight on the facts, so the citizens can start to engage in meaningful conversations about the issue.”
The app is available at the iTunes store. The organization’s website is at: forthegoodofillinois.org.