Before I start with this story, a personality tick of the Redstone Gazette: The Gazette has a tendency to mention the salaries of public officials in articles where the public official is important. I’ve never really seen that before, but the paper does it with such regularity that I think it is part of some policy (or something one of their main writers or editors simply wants done). It would be an interesting angle for a conservative paper in a conservative place, but Redstone is pretty heavily blue and the newspaper’s editorial staff is, as near as I can tell, no different. An interesting thing about this policy is that it can be oddly helpful at times. Knowing that the county executive gets paid more than the mayor, but that the city councilmen get paid half of what the county commissioners do, helps put things in perspective when it comes to who is running for what. But it’s a little weird to read, in the middle of an article about the schools, “Superintendent Davis, who gets paid $75,343 a year, announced…”

Anyhow, today there was an article about the city courts being so backlogged that they are on the verge of running up against “speedy trial” requirements and will start having to dismiss charges. This goes back to a previous story involving former Judge Mike Balasevic. Balasevic, who I was informed made $63,455 a year, resigned very suddenly last year. I was also informed that he had a part-time job with the school district as a janitor, making $11,575 a year (okay, I’m making the specifics up, but those are the ballparks). He was resigning as judge, but not janitor. This was an unbelievably weird article to read, because I’d never heard of a city judge working as a janitor, and quitting one job while holding on to the other… what the hell?

I should have seen the next part coming: Federal indictment. Bribery, of a pretty crass nature. They had him having taken roughly $14,000 a couple of years back (making more from corruption than cleaning). He’d later to at least ten bribes at a few hundred dollars a piece (and a few requests that the defendant put up a yard sign for his re-election). He plead guilty to a single count and received probation and $5k restitution. Anyhow, everything apparently screeched to a halt while this was going on until they found a replacement. Hence, defendants about to go free.

As far as I know, he still has that janitor job. I’ve never actually seen him at the schools. A teacher that I have substituted for more than once is named Mrs. Balasevic. I assume a relation of some sort, but I’m not going to ask (Mrs. B has actually offered to write me a letter of recommendation if I shift to subbing down here in Callie).

Category: Courthouse, Newsroom

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4 Responses to Corruption & Annual Salaries

  1. Scarlet Knight says:

    It seems odd to me to include salary information in an article that has nothing to do with public employee salaries, taxes, etc.

    Of course, if the point of the article IS the salaries, then include them all. I have no problem with the disclosure of the information per se, but it should be in the proper context.

    In my local paper, whenever discussing a local Congressman, Assemblyman, etc, they always include party affiliation and town of residence, which is public information. But they don’t include home address, name of employer, etc, even though that is public information as well.

  2. trumwill says:

    The salaries are also public information, though. I should add that I *think* they only do this for elected and appointed officials and not civil servants.

  3. Scarlet Knight says:

    Yes, they are public information. But they don’t have news value in a story that doesn’t have anything to do with their salaries. It is a useless stat in the article you are talking about.

    If one wants to do an article ABOUT public salaries, then include them. Both elected officials AND public employees.

  4. trumwill says:

    Fair enough.

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