June 9, 2011 -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration today posted the salaries of every city employee to a public website today, in a bid to follow through on a campaign promise to bring transparency to government.
At $2.5 billion, payroll is one of the largest expenses for the city as it battles a $650 million budget deficit. The data showed that 2,400 city workers are paid $100,000 or more per year.
"During the campaign I promised to have the most open, accountable and transparent government that the City of Chicago has ever seen," Emanuel said in a statement. "Today's effort is another step toward this goal, as we create an administration that is accountable to the citizens of Chicago."
Of the 34,219 municipal workers, the highest-paid employee is Garry McCarthy, the Superintendent of Police ($260,004), followed by Emanuel ($216,210) and then Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff ($202,728).
Meanwhile, the city's inspector general Joseph Ferguson, in charge of fighting corruption in the metropolis, is paid $161,856, but Emmanuel's administrative secretary is paid $162,500.
The lowest-paid city employee is administrative secretary Mark Angelson, with a symbolic salary of $1, followed by the foster parents and senior companions, all paid $2,756.
There are also some more surprising figures, such as the 31 employees who put boots on cars being paid $62,000 a year and 23 caulkers paid $91,500 each.
Chicago is not the first city to implement this transparency measure.
Responding to the scandal involving the extremely high pay for Bell City officials in Los Angeles County (one manager was paid twice as much as President Obama), Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel posted the salaries of nearly 37,000 city employees online in February.
"Angelenos have a right to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent, which is why I thought it was important for Los Angeles to set an example and post the salary of every City employee online," Greuel said in a statement in February. "The public's trust has been broken as a result of the recent scandal in Bell. Having all of the salary information online and available to the public helps to provide greater transparency and openness in how taxpayer dollars are spent."
In New York, the Empire Center of New York Policy also posts the salaries of government employees online.
Only time will tell if more cities follow suit as states battle severe budget deficits across the country and citizens demand accountability from their elected officials.