Maybe I should let it go, but I can't.
After I read our story the other day about what the special prosecutor in the Brian Towne case is making, I couldn't stop thinking about it.
The story reported the judge appointed a retired judge in Monmouth as the special prosecutor for the case involving the former La Salle County state's attorney, who is facing misconduct charges.
Judge Clark Erickson said in court he asked state's attorneys in 23 counties to take the case at their expense, but all refused, with most saying they did not have time. It's a complicated white-collar case that could keep them away from their local jobs.
So the judge tapped the retired judge, Gregory McClintock, as the special prosecutor, who will get $250 an hour, with $125-an-hour travel time, all courtesy of La Salle County taxpayers. To my untrained eyes, those figures are eye popping.
I get that a temporary worker usually costs more than a permanent one. And I understand lawyers make more than the average person. (According to jobs website indeed.com, the average lawyer in Illinois makes $82,000.)
But McClintock is making these substantial sums on top of a $175,000-a-year state pension. If he ends up working the equivalent of three weeks full-time on this case, he'll have a cool $30,000, not including the potential thousands he'll earn while driving.
This $30,000 would be well more than half of the average median household income of $51,000 in La Salle County. And when we refer to the median income, we're talking about all the earners in the household. The median income translates into $25 an hour.
If McClintock worked five weeks full-time, he would make a hair under the median income.
Based on his skills, experience and education, the special prosecutor should be paid well. But should he be paid 10 times more than the median earner?
Last week, I wrote a column about how the United States has improved in many ways over time, although many, if not most, people insist the country is on a long decline.
If that decline is true, then explain why violent and property crimes rates have dropped dramatically over a quarter century and teenage pregnancy rates are the lowest in at least 75 years. And explain why car crash fatalities, particularly those involving alcohol, are way down and high school graduation rates have skyrocketed.
After my column appeared, an upset reader called to say it lacked true facts. I replied that I cited statistics.
He would have none of it. He pointed out mass shootings happen regularly, noting the Florida school shooting was on the news. It's true 17 people died in the massacre, a horror to say the least. But that and other high-profile shootings don't mean overall crime rates are soaring.
- David Giuliani is a reporter for The Times. His weekly column "As It Is" expands upon regular news coverage by adding his insight and ideas. He can be reached at 815-431-4041 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @tt_dgiuliani.