I certainly understand the need for transparency. After all, government employers are spending public funds to conduct its business. With our tax dollars hard at work, we have an invested interest in knowing how the money is being spent. But sometimes we have a need to know too much.
For example, does the general public really need to have access to the emails and other file documents of government employees? Do we really need to know the salaries of all the workers? Yes it can help ensure salary equity amongst people of differing sexes and racial ethnicities, but can't safeguards be put in place to keep everyone from sticking their hands in the privacy cookie jar? Perhaps limits could be established so that only a select few people in the public can access the information and are not allowed to disseminate it.
I know, I know, this would allow for some scandals to go unchecked and allow some people to escape prosecution (ie the Penn State/Sandusky/Paterno scandal or the Ohio State/Jim Tressel/Terrell Pryor scandal). But it seems we are subjecting the lives of everyday people to public scrutiny to be able to catch the sins of a select few.
Why am I on this soapbox? I read the following news story about the issues involved with a prosecutor being suspended without pay by the district attorney. While reading this story, I learned the pay of this prosecutor. I also learned some of the reasons why all of this happened, reasons that surely surfaced in grievance meetings, negotiations and other forums that are typically thought of as safe havens for confidential conversations. Besides, confidentiality is needed to allow parties to open up without fear of others knowing the details of their discussions.
This open exchange of informations fosters settlement. If parties know that the information will not simply leak but be made readily available to the public, will they be willing to engage in open conversations to explore resolution? Doubtful. They are more likely to conceal and withhold information to make sure it does not see the light of day. This is not the spirit of dispute resolution. This is not the embodiment of FRE 408 confidential settlement negotiations. And this is the reason why I prefer private employment to its public counterpart.