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Need for openness in government buyouts

March 14, 2012
The Journal

Recently, residents in the Burnsville School District were shocked to learn their local school board approved a quarter-million dollar contract buyout for the district's Human Resources director, just seven months into her two-year contract.

When they asked "Why?" they were met by a silent school board that said state data privacy laws prevented board members from discussing the matter.

This should be a concern to anybody who lives in the state and cares what happens to their tax dollars. It is only right that officials elected by the public to govern public institutions using public money should be required to account to the public how it spends that money.

A bill has been introduced in the state Legislature that would break down that shield. It would require specific reasons for employee separation payments, regardless of whether a dispute exists, when payments include more of $10,000 in public money.

We support this legislation. Minnesota's government data law provides protection for the privacy of public employees, but at some point the public's right to know should supercede that privacy right. We think $10,000 is a good place to set that point.



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