The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 29, 2010
Blog back: Is posting union spending a 'smear'?

Blog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

Some blog users have taken issue with our series of posts on what unions have spent on political activities in October. Here are some of the more critical comments:

Oct. 27 CCPOA independent spending targets Meg Whitman

How about the requests to state some noteworthy campaign contributions and independent expenditures by BIG BUSINESS Jon? That was asked also! How about printing the "rest of the story"?

Only morons believe the hype the Bee puts out..Spend more time on websites like and for real news. ... You know this site is biased against unions...

I could not agree more. Union political contributions are a drop in the ocean in comparison to what big corporations are spending to influence elections. How about shedding some light on that Jon?

We particularly liked this comment, not necessarily for the cogent and precise nature of the criticism, but for the nom de plume of the writer, "NotnOrtizFan":

As usual the Bee continues to smear the unions. Where is the web address to see how much Bee workers earn per year? Where is the infomation (sic) for private business candidate contributions?

There is no rest of the story. You are reading the Bee.

Oct. 28 Engineers' union political spending tops $1 million this month

Well Jon, after continued attempts to get you to balance the reporting and give us something on the "rest of the story" about business and wealthy peoples (sic) donations, it appears your statement that, "In response to State Worker blog user requests, we're continuing to post some of the more noteworthy recent campaign contributions and independent expenditures by state employee unions as we enter the final days of the 2010 election." is based on a very selective agenda to justify YOUR motive. YOU suck!

It's interesting that some comments imply or outright criticize posting publicly available numbers as a "smear" on the unions. We see such expenditures as a reality, the price of relevance in California state politics.

We don't view putting the union info up as unfair in the absence of "balancing" it with non-union contributions. The numbers have significance on their own, particularly for this blog's niche readers who want to know how their representatives are spending money -- nearly all of it from member dues and fair share fees.

Which candidates and causes are unions supporting? Which are they opposing? How much are they spending and to what effect for members? Are the unions betting on winners or losers? What does the spending say about the direction of the union?

If this blog covered the oil industry, we'd post Chevron's political spending. If it focused on medical care providers, we'd post the contributions of Kaiser Permanente.

If you want to see what other interests spend on political campaigns and independent expenditures, we suggest or you can comb through the list of Committees, Parties, Major Donors and Slate Mailers on the California Secretary of State's website.

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

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


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