No one questions whether Peter Friess did a great job turning San Jose’s Tech Museum of Innovation around. He might claim that much of that is thanks to the work of Birgit Binner, a graphic designer he hired as a consultant, whose job was “to establish The Tech Museum as an immediately recognizable brand.” The problem is that Birgit Binner, who receives a $400,000 salary for her two-year contract, is also Friess’s wife.
While board members claim that Friess was not involved in their decision to hire Binner, some employees are not convinced. They say that of the eight contenders for the position, Binner was the only one who did not submit a formal portfolio, and that the criteria used to select a candidate clearly favored Binner over everyone else. The Board responds that Binner not only had the most extensive museum experience. She also submitted the lowest bid for her services. Critics of the choice argue that even if this is the case, her hiring at that salary comes at a time when the museum is cutting corners and letting other staff members go.
Over the years, the Tech has received extensive funding from the city, including $49 million to construct the building. It provides the museum with $1.3 million annually in operating costs, around 10 percent of its total budget.
Read More at The Mercury News.