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Question of the day

Thursday, Jan 9, 2014

* From almost a year ago, we look back on a profile of Dawn Clark Netsch

Basically it’s ALS; Lou Gehrig’s disease,” Netsch said in an interview.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disorder, is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famed New York Yankees baseball player.

“And my first reaction was I’m not even a Yankees fan. I’m a White Sox fan,” she said.

ALS robs a person of some of life’s most basic functions and normally can be deadly in three to five years. ALS weakens the nerves and makes it difficult to walk, swallow and speak.

“It’s a tough one,” she said sitting in the kitchen of the near north side home she shared with her late husband, famed architect Walter Netsch.

Asked why it was important to speak of her disease, Netsch did not hesitate.

“Might get more people thinking about what is ALS,’ she said, noting, “I’m going to be straight about this also.”

* From a Tribune perspective after she died

A policy wonk and ethics guru, the Northwestern law school professor tackled the complex issues of taxes and finances, crime and punishment, education and the poor. She tried to improve pension funding during the 1980s when the debt was $8 billion, but governors and lawmakers often ignored such warnings as the retirement system liability grew into today’s $100 billion shortfall.

Wealthy from the successes she had along with her husband, noted architect Walter, she once gave $10,000 to help support the state pension system because she “just thought it was fair.”

In 1994, Netsch became the first and only woman to win a Democratic primary for governor. Distancing herself from her image as a brainy woman with a collection of clunky necklaces and bright, flowing scarves, the state’s first female comptroller showed off the pool-shooting skills she honed as a child. She called herself a “straight shooter,” and primary voters loved it.

In the general election, she pressed her plan to raise income taxes, lower property taxes, increase money for schools and help the poor. The move got panned by better-funded Republican Gov. Jim Edgar. After he easily won the election, Edgar unveiled a similar plan but couldn’t get it passed.

She was a “founding mother” of modern Illinois government and just one heckuva woman.

* The Question: Should there be a statue of Dawn Clark Netsch somewhere in or around the Illinois Statehouse? Take the poll and then explain your comment and/or suggest where the statue should be and what it ought to depict.


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- Posted by Rich Miller        


36 Comments
  1. - Brass Doors - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 1:48 pm:

    Next to Paul Simon’s statue.


  2. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 1:51 pm:

    Loved her then. Love her more now. A legislator with integrity and a moral compass that always read true.


  3. - Left Leaner - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:01 pm:

    Because she serves as a shining example of what our elected leaders should aspire to be…and they all the reminders they can get on a daily basis.


  4. - Wallinger Dickus - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:03 pm:

    Not just one:

    The first one should be erected at the entrance of the Illinois State Library to acknowledge her commitment to education.

    The second should be erected at the Department of Revenue to acknowledge her understanding and incomparable expertise in state finance.

    The third should be erected in front of the St. John’s Hospital Carol Jo Vecchie Women’s and Children’s Center in Springfield to acknowledge her fierce commitment to women and families.

    The fourth and final statue should be erected in the wells of both chambers of the General Assembly to remind legislators that power without morality leads to tyranny. And that statue should exhibit her ominipresent Comiskey Park scorecard.

    Miss you, DCN. Go Sox!


  5. - Both - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:03 pm:

    It should be a statue pair with Netsch & Topinka…DCN & JBT together forever (with privately raised funds).


  6. - Palm Tree - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    I said no. Wonderful lady with many contributions to Illinois government, but statues should be for the greatest of the great. There are a few in line ahead of her.


  7. - 32nd Ward Roscoe Village - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:10 pm:

    Yes, and it should depict her handing her check to the pension system so that there will be one image of a politician giving to the system and not just taking from it.


  8. - Lottie O'Neill - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    A statue in the Statehouse would be a wonderful way to acknowledge Dawn Clark Netsch’s legacy, and would remind visitors of the many other intelligent and hard-working women who have helped shape Illinois.


  9. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    Except for the unidentified female police officer, I don’t think we have any statues of actual, real-life women at the Statehouse. DCN, to my mind, would be an appropriate first.


  10. - LincolnLounger - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:12 pm:

    With all due respect to DCN, didn’t we just allocate money to “move” statues because there are too many already? Honor her memory, but I think not.


  11. - Lottie O'Neill - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:14 pm:

    @ Rich Miller - 2nd floor rotunda


  12. - Jak Tichenor - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:22 pm:

    I’m voting “yes,” but with a qualification.

    Every moment spent with her was like attending a post-graduate seminar in Illinois state government from someone who knew the subject inside and out. She clearly loved teaching and sharing that boundless wellspring of knowledge and experience at her disposal.

    I interviewed her at her house for her Lincoln Academy public television profile the summer before she passed and although she was still in a lot of pain from suffering a bad fall, she gave me nearly two hours of great material and still had enough in reserve to do another interview right afterwards with Carol Marin.

    To the vote: She is certainly most deserving of a statue in the Statehouse (like Paul Simon), but I’m betting she would think the money would be better spent on scholarships for young women to pursue careers in public policy and/or the law.

    Paraphrasing something Paul once told me: “People are what really count, not buildings or statues, it’s making a difference in people’s lives. That’s the kind of living legacy you want to leave behind.”


  13. - Raising Kane - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:22 pm:

    I voted “no” too. She certainly mad a great contribution to the state but I don’t think it rises to the level of a statue. Plenty of Governors do not have a statue…why would we put up one of a one-term Comptroller?


  14. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:25 pm:

    No more statues. Put up a portrait somewhere instead.

    Dirty lens: I go past Wrigley every day and see that awful Ernie Banks statue. I’m a native southsider but even I think that thing is a travesty.


  15. - Mouthy - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    I worked for her. Nice lady. But no. We have enough statues of “public servants”


  16. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    Apparently there need to be a few more 2nd floor stakeouts to familiarize everyone with architecture.

    Lottie Holman O’Neill.

    http://www.ilstatehouse.com/images/oneill6_04.jpg

    There’s also the anonymous statue of the woman with open arms welcoming everyone in the middle of the first floor.


  17. - Langhorne - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:33 pm:

    Rauner, wealthy and phony. Difficult to vote for.

    Netsch, wealthy and genuine. Easy to vote for.


  18. - lil enchilada - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    One statue of a woman…. isn’t that enough?


  19. - Joan P. - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:45 pm:

    My first reaction was “Yes”. But my second was like Jak Tichenor’s. She’d likely say “we don’t need another statue, put the money into education”.


  20. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:46 pm:

    Yes. She was a great pioneer and modernizer.

    As a proponent of government open and in the sunshine, somewhere on the grounds near an entrance.

    I’m sure Dawn and Walter are happy to see one of the greatest right-hand hitters of all time enter the Hall. Those two original North Side goo-goos spent a lot of time in Bridgeport at both old and new Cominskey.


  21. - RNUG - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:06 pm:

    Better a bronze plaque in the Capitol and the rest of the money in a scholarship fund


  22. - Marie - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:16 pm:

    I vote yes - because she was more than a politician - she believed in Illinois and stood up for what she thought was right - she was also a “hoot” and fun to be with - we need all the examples of those who are selfless and giving - in this state they can be far between


  23. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:17 pm:

    Put that photo of her playing pool on the walls of one (or all?) of the pool halls in Springfield.

    My yes vote would be for that.


  24. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:18 pm:

    I voted yes, but she probably wouldn’t want it to happen.

    Carved up holding a pool cue in one hand and the Sox lineup in the other would be wonderful, but again unlikely.


  25. - Tommydanger - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:20 pm:

    Nope. A greater tribute would be to act to make her passions a reality. Enough with the statues already.


  26. - Crafty Girl - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    “Except for the unidentified female police officer, I don’t think we have any statues of actual, real-life women at the Statehouse. DCN, to my mind, would be an appropriate first.”

    If I recall correctly, there is a statue of Lottie Holman O’Neill on the 2nd floor. It’s kind of hidden, but it’s there.


  27. - mokenavince - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:30 pm:

    The smartest politician and person I ever met. Plus a Sox fan. How do you beat that.


  28. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:32 pm:

    How about a hologram with a recording of some of her pithy sayings? I would love to have it make unannounced appearances when the GA or the Gov start to go astray. Well, that would be a permanent installation now wouldn’t it!


  29. - Bill Edley - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 4:24 pm:

    Netsch was a piece of work. A great lady and a ball busting politician. I remember when Sen. Penny Severns lined up with Cook County Board President Dick Phelan in the 1994 Democratic Primary. Netsch was livid, but didn’t go over the top. Penny ended up as Netsch’s running mate with the tag line that they had “Broad Support.”
    I am tired of looking an Everett Dirksen’s monument as the only modern pol on the state capitol’s front lawn. Placing Netsch front and center would be a real kick.


  30. - A Nanny Moose - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 4:36 pm:

    Anyone who can coin the phrase “Dirty Little Richie,” when describing the former Chicago mayor, deserves at least a plaque.


  31. - Rudy - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 4:44 pm:

    Another option would be to name a current or future state govt building after her–as the state did for Willard Ice.


  32. - 4 percent - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 4:53 pm:

    No. With all due respect, it would be like MLB electing Wally Backman or Vince Coleman to the Hall of Fame. They all had some nice years but are not HOF material.

    She was elected to a down the ballot statewide office and was a legislator. She was not Governor and I don’t think had any landmark legislation.

    Nice lady. Nice career. No statute.


  33. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 4:57 pm:

    –Nice lady. Nice career. No statute.–

    Dawn had a hand in a lot of Illinois statutes.


  34. - Monica Metzler - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 7:42 pm:

    Initial reaction - yes, definitely - because of this line: “A policy wonk and ethics guru… tackled the complex issues of taxes and finances, crime and punishment, education and the poor.” THAT is what elected officials should be aspiring to yet none currently deserve that description.

    However, I agree she would not have wanted the money spent. So instead put flashy scarves around the necks of all the current statues! Seriously, if that was done even one day a year, everyone would learn the reason why and learn about her commitment to the state, whereas a statue would quickly become just an ignored part of the backdrop.


  35. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 7:56 pm:

    With all due respect to some of the great heroes currently recognized in the State House, it is time to perhaps consider transitioning some of them out to make room for some new heroes, like DLN.

    And sorry to be morbid, but leave room for a Madigan and Hastert statue too.


  36. - austinman - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 11:14 pm:

    Yes she was a trailblazer and she tried hard to make a difference


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