Sunday Extra: Unfair criticism painted with a broad brush
By SCOTT DAVIS
I was taken aback by the article that appeared in The News-Gazette on Sunday, Dec. 18, written by Adam Andrzejewski. He is apparently disturbed by the number of public employees whose compensation is over $100,000.
In the article he mentions that these "highly compensated" public servants cost the taxpayers over $8 billion a year. However, he failed to mention the significant benefits these employees are providing the state.
Any good analysis should weigh the costs and benefits; this article failed to do so. The article does point out a handful of specific examples the author gives of what he claims are exorbitant salaries, but not knowing the specific duties and responsibilities, or the performance of any of these individuals seems to be an unfair judgment of these public employees.
There is an old adage that you get what you pay for, and I would assume Illinois taxpayers demand highly trained professionals who excel at their jobs. Needless to say, compensation alone doesn't guarantee this, but trying to attract quality employees without giving them the possibility of an excellent compensation package seems doomed to failure.
I have been a public school teacher here in Champaign for over 30 years now and constantly hear people argue that we need to attract quality people into education.
It is hard to imagine that happening if the public sector doesn't stay reasonably competitive to the private sector in terms of compensation.
The other concern Mr. Andrzejewski raised was the number of public employees who are "double dipping" by continuing to work after they begin to receive a pension.
Rather than question Sullivan's decision to hire Judge Dan Flannell after he stepped down from his position on the bench, I want to applaud them for taking advantage of the abilities of such a quality individual.
The retirement he is being paid for his service on the bench was a part of his compensations, and I applaud him as well for being willing to continue to contribute to society, and the taxpayers, rather than spending his "retirement" playing golf or moving to Florida to play Canasta.
There are tens of thousands of military veterans, firefighters and police officers who are able to draw a retirement well before 65 and I am glad that so many decide to move on to second careers, just like Flannell, former Gov. Jim Edgar and former state Rep. Roger Eddy decided to do. I wonder how Edgar's students felt about having such an amazing resource to learn from in the classroom.
Public employees don't have many of the benefits found in the private sector; there is no profit sharing, 401k matches or stock options, so it's upsetting when public employees are seen as taking advantage of one of the perks that they do recieve -- a pension.
I am definitely not complaining about a lack of compensation or the workload I have been given, but it does upset me when such an unfair criticism is painted with such a broad brush.
Scott Davis, a Champaign native, has been a social studies teacher at Champaign Central High School for 32 years and was the head boys' basketball coach for 21 years.