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Alameda County officials are preparing to release the much-guarded salaries of the county’s top wage earners, in accordance with a public records request — and in spite of one local union’s ire. But Duane Reno, an attorney for the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21, which protested the request by the Contra Costa Times, said on Thursday he plans to ask the California Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter, noting there was at least one conflicting court ruling. “In the meantime, we’re telling public agencies they should wait, because if they went out and gave this information and the Supreme Court said they should not have, then they’re violating [the employees'] privacy rights,” Reno said. The Times last month won a First District Court of Appeal decision granting its request for the names and salaries of Oakland city employees who earn more than $100,000 per year. Because the Times had requested similar information from Alameda County Counsel Richard Winnie, Winnie said Thursday the county would provide the job titles and salaries of the affected employees — but not the names. Winnie said he asked Local 21 for any legal authority that would give a reason for the county to not provide the employees’ names. Otherwise, he said, the names would be provided to the paper some time next week. “There’s significant discussion in that case that would lead us to conclude that the names are not privileged,” Winnie said. Winnie’s decision was based on the April 18 First District opinion in International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21, AFL-CIO v. Superior Court, 05 C.D.O.S. 3284. A conflicting court ruling was made two years ago in the case of Teamsters Local 856 v. Priceless, 112 Cal.App.4th 1500, in which the Fourth District granted a preliminary injunction preventing the release of the names of city employees. However, judges in the Oakland opinion noted that case was in the preliminary stage and did not give it the weight of a full opinion. Human Resource Services Director Denise Eaton-May sent memos Wednesday to union representatives and county department heads advising them the county planned to provide the salary information “within the next couple days.” The Times sought the names and salaries of county employees who earned a gross salary of $100,000 or more in fiscal year 2003-04 and the salaries of those who had a base salary below $100,000 but whose salaries exceeded $100,000 once overtime and other compensation was considered. Although the union later appealed, Oakland officials provided the paper with similar salary information after a ruling by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Steven Brick last year. Although he expressed reservations about revealing police pay, Brick noted the city had furnished the information for eight years before it decided to stop. The county’s decision upset Local 21 organizer Anne Janks, who heard about it Thursday. She said many county employees with sensitive jobs actually feared receiving threats from unhappy citizens or of suffering identity theft. “The DAs really hate to have their names in the paper,” Janks said. “They hate to get death threats.” That’s nonsense, said the newspaper’s attorney, Karl Olson. “I absolutely, just categorically, do not buy the argument,” said Olson, who has also represented The Recorder. “The record in the Oakland case � showed that they disclosed everyone’s salary for nine years straight, and there was absolutely no evidence of any harm as a result.” Asked whether he welcomed the county’s move, Olson said, “they should have responded in 10 days from whenever the request was made,” the normal period public agencies are given to respond to a public records request. “I just don’t understand why the unions are spending their members’ money trying to defeat the public’s right to know,” Olson said. “I think it would be a better investment of their dues to spend it on collective bargaining or something like that.”

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