The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 28, 2008
Public employees, public records and public trust

Are there dots here that we should connect?

Let's start with today's Chu Vu story reported by Bee crime reporters Kim Minugh and Sam Stanton . According to Bee sources, the former Sacramento County deputy allegedly used a department computer to look up personal information on Steve Lo, a state correctional officer who was gunned down at his home earlier this month.

Vu was arrested on an unrelated weapons charge, but Sacramento police consider him a "principal" in the homicide investigation.

Now consider the soon-to-be-closed case of Rachael Rivas Dumbrique. Last week the 33-year-old former Department of Consumer Affairs worker pleaded no contest to a felony count of illegally downloading confidential state information that included the names and Social Security numbers of 5,500 current and former department employees. As Bee reporter Andrew McIntosh reported in this story, Dumbrique is scheduled for sentencing next month.

Now the obvious connection: Both cases involve public employees and their access to private information.

It's bad enough that in the era of electronic finance that we have to worry about criminals stealing our identities or hacking our credit card information. It's worse -- far worse, in our estimation -- when public employees abuse their access to the information assigned to us privately by the government (such as social security numbers) or that we are compelled to give privately (such as our address or income).

It makes us wonder, how often does this happen? How many public employees do this? How many have access? And beyond that, how effective are government attempts to squash abuse of this unique and powerful government authority?


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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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