Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Evidence of time’s passage; Gov. Ryan gets his dues, What about Blagojevich?

Some people are going to be determined to go to their deathbeds shrieking and screaming about how corrupt George Ryan was, how abhorrent his time as Illinois governor was, and how we can “never forget!” the wrongs he did upon us.

RYAN: To be included in Kankakee tribute
But time really has a way of making everything wither away with its passage.

I COULDN’T HELP but notice the officials in Kankakee who recently approved erection of a new memorial on the grounds of the county courthouse – it’s meant to pay tribute to the three local men who later went on to become governor of Illinois.

Those three will include Ryan – who managed to offend many conservative ideologues with his one-term performance as governor, but who committed acts while serving as Illinois secretary of state that eventually got him into legal trouble and resulted in him serving a six-year stint at the work camp that is part of the federal correctional center in Terre Haute, Ind.

The monument itself would actually be paid for by the Woman’s Club of Kankakee, but governmental approval was needed to put it on public property.

Some people locally are upset, but it seems a majority is more than willing to move on and accept the fact that Ryan served a term – and is one of the few local (from Kankakee) residents to ever be Illinois’ chief executive.

SMALL: When last time you heard his name?
AS FURTHER EVIDENCE that time passing manages to assuage everything and everyone, I haven’t heard anyone make mention of the fact that another person whose name will be on the monument – Len Small from 1921 to 1929 – also had legal issues during his time as governor.

Small actually went on trial for actions occurring when he was state treasurer (embezzlement, as in state funds were deposited into a phony bank account), but he was acquitted.

Although there were tales of how that acquittal came about solely because of jury tampering – as in several members of the Small jury later were given government jobs.

But that’s nearly a century ago. I’m sure all who could remember are long gone. And perhaps those still living are wondering if it’s their mind fizzling out.

SHAPIRO: Replaced a corrupt pol?
ALTHOUGH IF YOU want to get technical, the third person to be put on the Kankakee monument (Samuel Shapiro, from 1968-69) also could have a taint of scandal.

Not that Shapiro himself did anything suspect. But he was the man who finished out the gubernatorial term of Otto Kerner – who gave up his Executive Mansion post to become a federal judge. Which is what he was when federal prosecutors went after him on criminal charges.

Quite a colorful contribution of characters to Illinois’ story, even though if you listen to certain people, it is only the city of Chicago proper that contributes all of the taint to Illinois’ public reputation.

Yet now it will be reduced to a few lines of type etched into stone, one that most likely will merely give off the impression of three “local boys made good” that Kankakee residents of future years will look at for a second or two – before moving on to other pressing business of the future.

A THOUGHT THAT I’m sure will thoroughly offend those people determined to think of George Ryan as the guy who “set all the criminals free” when he took his acts that essentially abolished capital punishment in Illinois.

BLAGOJEVICH: Will his day EVER come?
Preferring to remember instead those secretary of state employees who essentially sold commercial driver’s licenses to the highest bidder; and tried justifying it on the grounds that Ryan put so much pressure on them to buy tickets to fundraising events that they needed the extra money.

Perhaps it all will be forgotten someday, except for certain people who make a point of memorizing the details of every bit of trivia they can burn into their brains.

Just one point to ponder – will this ultimately become the outcome for Rod Blagojevich? Or is his “f---ing golden” line significant enough to warrant him a sense of eternal political infamy?


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