A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

The headline of an article from the Dearborn Patch repeats the Dearborn Mayor's claim that a recent Capitol Confidential report on very high compensation levels for some city employees was "inaccurrate" and "grossly misleading." However, nothing the Mayor said or the Patch article repeated contradicts a single fact reported by the CapCon report, which ran last Monday. The facts Capcon reported are accurate.

This response from local politicians and bureaucrats is a good example of how officials can become so deeply immersed inside a government bubble they lose touch. For instance, the Mayor's explanations cited "longevity payments" and retroactive pay hikes - things that have become exceedingly rare in today’s workplace, except in government.

Yet when Dearborn officials use these words they expect citizens (and reporters) to nod and accept them as perfectly reasonable and normal. This despite their positions in a struggling city that's raising taxes and still wants to spend $8.6 million more than its expected revenue this year (what in government is called a "deficit").

Given this context, those pay levels seem high because they are high. Residents are correct to view them as inappropriate and unseemly.

Don’t forget, these government employees also get defined benefit pensions and extraordinarily generous health benefits with little or no employee contribution required — both also alien to private workplaces here following a decade-long “single-state recession.” Plus, like government workers everywhere, they enjoy near total job security — another concept alien to the taxpayers who pay for all those goodies.

Good reporters (and citizens) should always treat the statements of government officials with skepticism, consider the larger context and apply critical thinking, rather than accepting those statements at face value.

That’s what Capital Confidential does every day, and did here. It’s why CapCon is increasingly the only media source for important information people need.

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See also:

Despite Deficit, Some Dearborn Top Officials Got Boosts in Pay