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Public Employees’ Pay, Just a Tap Away

Editors Note:  Our founder Adam Andrzejewski was featured in the metro east newspaper, Edwardsville Intelligencer.  Between our Open The Books website and Open the Books iApp, over 1 million questions regarding illinois public pay and pensions have been asked by citizens.  See it all at www.openthebooks.com.  Andrzejewski is currently the Chairman of For The Good of Illinois PAC.

By Oliver Wiest
Edwardsville Intelligencer
Read the original article here.

Ever wonder what the county treasurer makes? Want to find out who the 10 highest paid public employees in Edwardsville are? If so, an organization that spotlights increases in public salaries and pensions has an app to do the job.

Adam Andrzejewski, an entrepreneur from Hinsdale, founded For the Good of Illinois in 2007.

“The people of Illinois need to take the information (posted at www.forthegoodofillinois,org) and hold elected officials accountable for their pay and pension decisions,” Andrzejewski said in a telephone interview last week.

Andrzejewski, who ran in the Republican gubernatorial primary election in 2010, where he finished fourth in a seven-way race, would like to see all governmental financial data posted online as soon as it is available.

His two main “transparency” projects so far created a database showing pension payments to public employees and another showing salaries and wages paid to workers at all levels of government.

“The objective of openthebooks.com and the Open the Books app is to tear down the hurdles and walls between the citizens and what is rightfully public information,” Andrzejewski said.

The smart phone app, available free through Apple’s app store or by free download at the Open the Books Web page, allows searches by ZIP code, within a certain radius of the user, or by name.

A survey of pay records in the Edwardsville area reveals that people who aspire to a six-figure  income in the public sector should set their sights on Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Retiring Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift tops the list at $333,966. A graph that accompanies each entry shows that Vandegrift’s salary rose from less than $240,000 in 2004 to the figure cited above  in 2010, an increase of more than 40 percent.

Another 45 SIUE employees earned more than $140,000 in 2010.

Ed Hightower, superintendent of Edwardsville School District 7, at $181,220, was the only one of the top 10 earners in 2010 who did not work for the university.

Andrzejewski said that 3,062 public employees in Illinois meet his definition of “highly compensated,” that is, they earned more than the $170,000 the governor was paid in 2010.

Andrzejewski favors legislation that would reduce state aid to government entities that pay their workers more than the governor by a sum equal to the difference.

“That simple rule would rein in the out-of-conrol public salaries and save Springfield a billion dollars a year,” Andrzejewski said.

Andrzejewski said data gathered by Open the Books shows that the pay of public workers is increasing 60 to 100 percent every 10 years, compared to 21 percent in the private sector.

Andrzejewski has taken leave from his non-profit organization to head the For the Good of Illinois PAC, whose goal is to elect“candidates who demand transparency, accountability, and limited government.”

The latter category eliminates Democratic candidates, he said. His PAC has contributed only to Republican candidates so far.

Oh, the top-paid Edwardsville public official? Not City Administrator Ben Dickmann, who, with a 2010 salary of $107,124 would probably be most people’s first guess. That honor goes to City Attorney Jeffrey Berkbigler, who made $109,614 in 2010.

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