Saturday, July 21, 2012

One comes. One goes. (Or maybe not)

Attorneys for George Ryan tried Friday to bring the former Illinois governor back from oblivion, the same day that attorneys for Michael Madigan are trying to send a West Side state legislator off to oblivion.
SMITH: On his way out (for now)?

Perhaps it is some unique balance that must be maintained. Ryan can only consider coming back to society if someone else takes his place in political purgatory!

BUT ONE HAS to admit that the timing of Ryan and Derrick Smith was a bit coincidental – as both managed to pop their way into the news cycle on Friday. And it will be a few weeks before we find out what happens with either one of them.

In the case of Smith, he’s the state legislator currently facing criminal charges in U.S. District Court that claim he was soliciting bribes while serving in the Illinois House of Representatives. He’s the guy who has been the focus of a legislative committee that has been reviewing his circumstances.

And on Thursday, that committee recommended that Smith should be kicked out of the Illinois House because of his behavior – even though he has yet to be convicted of a single offense. Only state Rep. Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields, voted against his removal.

Now, the matter goes to the full Illinois House, where on Friday House Speaker Madigan, D-Chicago, scheduled a session day for Aug. 17.

THE FULL ILLINOIS House will convene that day for just one purpose – the possible expulsion of Derrick Smith, as recommended by a committee. Under legislative rules, at least 79 of the 118 members must vote “yes” for Smith’s removal for it to happen.

Who’s to say whether that many legislators can agree on anything?

Although it always is possible that the Illinois House members will be disgusted enough that they had to return to Springfield for a day (they’re not really supposed to be back at the Capitol building until November) that they may just take it out on Smith and dump him.

Which would be a shame, because I think this whole Smith affair has the potential to make everybody look ridiculous – not just Derrick, who is stubbornly refusing to give up his post even though the fact that he faces criminal charges makes him as weak and ineffectual as any legislator can be.

SERIOUSLY, WHAT HAPPENS if he manages to get himself re-elected come the Nov. 6 general elections? That is always a real possibility. He has the benefits of incumbency.

And even though local Democrats are organizing an independent candidacy to challenge him, Smith’s chances received a boost recently when the Republican woman who also had hopes of running got kicked off the ballot for having insufficient signatures of support.

This is going to be one case that will manage to taint so many people, in large part because of the insistence that Smith be removed immediately – even though the reality of our political system is that many other officials were allowed to remain in office literally up to the point of being sent off to prison.

What makes Smith (truly a no-name, non-descript legislator if ever there was one) so special? Nothing, really!

IN FACT, THIS one day of being paired up by timing with George Ryan may be the most significant moment of the Smith political career.

Although while officials are trying to get rid of Smith, we’ll have to see if they manage to bring back Ryan from the political “dead.”

For Ryan’s attorneys argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago on Friday about why they think some of the charges for which he was convicted should be overturned and thrown out.

With the prison term that Ryan now has, he will be eligible for work-release programs early in 2013, and is supposed to be released on Independence Day. He has nearly a full year with which he must respond to the Bureau of Prisons.

BUT IF THOSE charges can be dumped, then it would reduce the length of the overall prison term. Which means theoretically that Ryan may have already served more than the amount of time in prison for what convictions remain.
RYAN: On the rebound?

A favorable court ruling sometime later this summer could result in Ryan’s immediate release from prison – which at his current age of 78 is a plus. Any amount of freedom is something he’d appreciate.

Even though I’m sure the ideologues will want to claim that it is an injustice he can’t be held for a time period longer than his current 6 ½-year prison term. Some people are going to find reason to grouse no matter what the circumstances.

And as far as the bottom-line is concerned, I remain convinced that Ryan will someday get something resembling a pardon, even if it comes after his time served is complete – making him the GOP equivalent of Dan Rostenkowski.


He was, is, and always will be “Derrick Who?”


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