* 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.