Tech Museum Firestorm

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.


  1. This posting is troubling because the Merc says Birgit Binner bid on and received a $400K two-year contract entirely legally.  So even if every dime went to enrich Binner, it would be at a $200K annual rate, quite different from the above posting.  And it would not be a salary in any ordinary sense.

    And apparently $135K went to a specific project for display boxes.

    This has all the earmarks of the smear campaign to oust former County Superintendent Wilcox from her position which began with a little slam and then multiplied with additional little slams until details began to overwhelm voter & taxpayer common sense.

    The campaign to get Wilcox, we know now, was run by elements of the American Leadership Forum-Silicon Valley which fed bits & pieces of info to the Merc which went to full aggressive lynch mode against Wilcox.

    The non-productive parasites of San Jose undoubtedly plan to reveal more items, legal & board authorized, to oust the Friess-Binner team from their highly successful programs.  We can only speculate on the ugly reasons behind this effort.

  2. Jay is right.

    San Jose is run by the Eight.

    I used to be a member.

    Then I was a caught in a room with Armando and his Estonian paramour, Mayo Latmo.

    The Eight sit in a dark room every third Monday and detemine who stays in power.

    Colleen ran afoul of them when she stopped hiring Ghurkas to run the mailroom.

    Yes, this is silly.  Parasites???  Williams, get a job!

  3. The Eight are a significant factor in San Jose.  JayW seems to be attacking the wrong group of insiders.

    Joseph DiSalvo
    Peter Campbell
    David Cohen
    Susan Hammer
    Ron Gonzales
    Larry Pegram
    Linda Lezotte
    Dayana Salazaar

    are the Eight

    Airport Commissioners, newspaper editors, Water District staffers are all acolytes to this elite group.  Chris Patterson,a player in Internet roulette is one of useful puppies.

  4. Well, Mr. Patterson

    on the subject of explanations, what is your story?

    Who are you?  What role do you have?  All we have read from you are little drive bys, so if You so into explanations, what are you bona fuses?

  5. As far as I’m concerned, the supposed adults responsible for managing and operating the Tech Museum disgraced themselves and the good name of San Jose by their slobbering and obsequious celebration of the current era’s most notorious charlatan,  hoaxer, and chief global warming quack, Al Gore.

    $400,000 to restore the “brand” of the Tech Museum would be spent just as effectively to restore the brand of Bernie Madoff or Ken Lay.

  6. It is hard to be a public institution when the public can’t afford the tickets.  I went to the Tech Museum last week to see the TREK exhibit, with my wife and my toddler. The three tickets cost $69. Because of these prices, we did not eat at the cafe ($20), buy the photo package ($36) or any souvenirs.  These are all things we normally do when we go to any museum. 

    The Star Trek sets was good, but not 2 or 3 times better then King Tut at the De Young ($50), any of the world class art at SFMOMA ($30), the artifacts in the Legion of Honor ($25) that that sort of cash would command.  The ticket prices are even more expensive then those at the Guggenheim ($30) or the Louvre ($25).

    While there I thought the tickets were overpriced.  Now that I’ve read this article, I feel like a real sucker.

  7. That is a clear injustice. I live in a third world country and sad to say this kind of story is very rampant here where relatives and friends of those in position can easily be appointed and hired. I hope this thing would be resolved soon.

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