in Houston, Texas
Texas government employees who are felons, drunk drivers and embezzlers have won the day
Monday, Dec 06, 2010, 12:29PM CST
By Jennifer Peebles
nightcapitol

Well, all you government employees across in Texas who have criminal records, I gotta hand it to you: You won.

That's right, you felons, drunk drivers, you embezzlers, you beat us. You too, you cronies: You folks on the government payroll who got your jobs only because your uncle is a city councilman or a state legislator. I'm sure y'all are dancing with glee right now.

You've really pulled one over on us -- not just us in the news media, but us citizens in general.

Certainly you're in the minority in the state government workforce -- but now that you've convinced the state's highest court that government employees’ dates of birth must remain confidential, you're home free. Without that crucial bit of identifying information, no journalist will ever again be able to match up your name in public government records with databases of convicted felons or sex offenders or repeat drunk-drivers with suspended licenses.

Nor will we be able to match up your identity with voter registration records or other public records that would help establish that your uncle is really a state legislator who pulled strings and got you that cushy job in the Department of Basket Weaving.

You were able to pull the wool over the eyes of the state Supreme Court and others using the phony-baloney argument about identity theft, and how evildoers and scammers would be able to use your date of birth to steal your identity -- an argument that is as silly today as it was when I was born on Sept. 5, 1974. After all, the state Department of Public Safety sells your date of birth -- all of our dates of birth -- each year for tens millions of dollars to private firms and has been doing so for years.

No, your identity is now totally protected from people who would dare to make you accountable to the public.

So you won. I'm sure you're happy. You'll keep your government job because it'll be so much harder now for us journalists to track you down and out you and whatever nefarious misdeeds you may be committing at public expense.

And all the while, your counterparts in government service -- the ones who are honest and hard-working, the ones whose criminal records are limited to the occasional parking ticket, the ones who got their jobs through honest and legal means -- will just have to put up with you giving them a black eye.

You won.

For now.

Contact Jennifer Peebles at jennifer@texaswatchdog.org or 281-656-1681. Follow her on Twitter at @texaswatchdog and @jpeebles.

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Photo of 'darkness on the state capitol' by flickr user Jim Nix/ Nomadic Pursuits , used via a Creative Commons license.

Comments
Tuesday, 12/07/2010 - 09:07AM

I am a state employee with no criminal record. I was not hired because of any family member or friend having influence, but rather I was hired based on my education, experience, and professional skills. With that said, I absolutely do not want my birth date available to the public. You have no right to compromise the personal information of thousands just to attempt to weed out a few that slipped through the cracks. I guess if it was suspected that a few state employees were stealing money from the state somehow, you would demand every state employee's bank and financial records be public information as well...?

zoltan
Tuesday, 12/07/2010 - 04:29PM

Non-government lackeys already have their birth dates available to the public. Do you have to fail a basic intelligence test to become a government employee?

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