Monday, May 2, 2011

Burbank seeks court protection to avoid disclosing employees' bonuses - latimes.com

Burbank seeks court protection to avoid disclosing employees' bonuses - latimes.com

Burbank officials are refusing to release the amount of bonuses paid to individual public employees, arguing in a legal filing that the information would reveal private performance evaluations and erode workplace morale.

The argument was filed in response to a lawsuit by the Burbank Leader to obtain the information.
Senior Assistant City Atty. Juli Scott dismissed the arguments and legal precedent cited by Karlene W. Goller — an attorney for the Leader's parent company, the Los Angeles Times — and Karl Olson of the San Francisco-based firm Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski. Scott said the public-records request falls outside established bounds for access to salary and other compensation information for government employees.

The Leader filed a lawsuit in January after the city turned down a request for records on the amount of bonuses handed out to each employee. The city has released only the aggregate amount, which totaled $1 million last fiscal year.

The debate over disclosing merit pay comes as the city faces an estimated $8.7-million budget gap for next fiscal year. Already, department chiefs have been asked to cut 5% across the board, including $1.27 million from the Fire Department — less than what was budgeted for bonuses last year.

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