* I really see nothing wrong with Gov. Pat Quinn taking some time to decide what to do about the repeal of the death penalty. Others? Not so much, according to James Warren…
“Is this theater?” said Jeremy Schroeder, executive director of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, when I asked about Mr. Quinn’s supposedly probing the innermost recesses of his soul.
“For goodness gracious, he claimed he was a reformer!” declared State Senator Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington, a Roman Catholic South Sider and die-hard Republican conservative who voted for abolition. “Quinn’s always trying to make everybody happy.”
The notion that there’s a bit of a sham under way has crossed minds. Might the governor’s helter-skelter ways include a search for cover before he disappoints death penalty supporters?
“You’d think it would be something he would have signed immediately,” said Senate President John J. Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat. “It would be dumb politically and dumb morally if he didn’t.”
Let’s go through these point by point.
Politics has always been at least partially about “theater.” You can’t just go off and break yet another campaign promise without laying some groundwork. You could call it political cover, you could also call it setting the stage. And if this is what Quinn is doing, then it’s fine by me. It’s smart politics and good governance.
Sen. Duffy complains that Quinn is always trying to make everybody happy. Duffy is not happy. Therefore, the point is moot, albeit mostly correct. This is a huge decision, however, and he ought to take his time.
The governor has long supported the death penalty. So, signing this bill immediately would’ve been hypocritical in the extreme. I’m willing to give him some space to get his head together on this thing. Cullerton should as well.
* But while Quinn mulls this over, he should carefully read a tremendous column penned by Jeff Engelhardt, a Public Affairs Reporting intern in the Daily Herald’s Springfield bureau. Jeff and my brother Devin are friends, and Devin has nothing but high praise for this young man, who has struggled with an unspeakable personal tragedy…
On April 17, 2009, three members of my family were murdered.
My father, grandmother and 18-year-old sister were all stabbed to death in their own home. My mother was in critical condition and my older sister was left with her baby girl and the horrifying sights of what happened to her family.
I was feeling helpless, six hours away at Southern Illinois University.
It didn’t take long for the assistant state’s attorney to tell me they wanted to pursue the death penalty for the man accused of committing the terrible crime.
As the citizens of Illinois await the governor’s decision on the death penalty, it has given me another opportunity to contemplate what I would want done in my situation.
I live with what happened every day and have mulled over what I would like to see become of the man I believe took my family away. My vision was blurred for a while, but the decision became very clear after I remembered where I came from.
I am no governor, but I am my father’s son. And as my father’s son, that means I choose the path of forgiveness.
This is not a call to repeal the death penalty. Rather this is a declaration of dedication to a path of peace.
I hope Jeff eventually finds personal peace. That couldn’t have been easy to write. Go read the whole thing.