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Today’s quotable

Wednesday, Jul 2, 2014

* Former Gov. George Ryan, who is being released from home confinement today, talked to Michael Sneed. From the interview

I don’t know if it’s a fact I learned a lot during the past six years, but I do know one thing for sure. You never know who are your real friends until you go through something like this.

“Now, I know who they really are . . . and for the most part it was a surprise.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Stones - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 9:59 am:

    It will be interesting to see how he is accepted (or not accepted) back into society. I suspect that he will be asked to do some election night analysis on TV (ala Dan Rostenkowski). Never been one of my favorites but he has paid his debt to society.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:02 am:

    A sadly true quote.

    After paying his debt, I wish him well in his life.

  3. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:03 am:

    Mr. Ryan’s political career was accomplished in large part by the types of friendships he created. Over the decades, how often was the depths of a personal friendship challenged by a political necessity favoring his political career? Over the decades of his career, did Mr. Ryan display the type of friendship he today admires?

    Politics makes strange bedfellows, the old adage goes. This is said because without politics, those strange bedfellows wouldn’t give the time of day to the other. Politics creates friendships of convenience. When it is no longer convenient, the friendships often end. Seasoned politicians like Mr. Ryan know this. They themselves have ended friendships due to political expediencies, I’m confident to say.

    Perhaps Mr. Ryan has discovered that without politics in his life, he may have finally discovered what real friendships are.

  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:11 am:

    Fidel sends his best, George. Not so much from the families of murdered victims of killers that you took off death row after a sham “review” of each case.

  5. - Levois - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:13 am:

    This was a great column. I came off respecting Ryan even more although I disagree with him on the death penalty. I’m very sorry he wasn’t able to spend time with his wife while she was able to know he was there. Prison is a very harsh institution and that’s its purpose. And yes, he surely knows who his real friends are now.

  6. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:15 am:

    Ryan has served his time, but he still seems at a loss as to why his career ended with a prison sentence. He continues to accept no responsibility for the pervasive corruption in the Secretary of State’s office where commercial driver’s licenses were exchanged for bribes. Some of the bribe money was funneled to Ryan’s campaign committees. Nonetheless, Ryan expresses no remorse for his official conduct.

    I hope that he lives out his days in quiet anonymity.

  7. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:23 am:

    Anyone notice Sneed has the Willis children dying in 2008, not 1994?

  8. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:33 am:

    AR, my print copy has ‘94.

    I forgot Ryan was not allowed to attend his wife’s funeral. That’s really beyond for pale for a non-violent offender.

    Looking forward to the book. I hope it’s very candid. He was a real insider’s insider and can shed a lot of light if he chooses.

  9. - MrJM (@MisterJayEm) - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:41 am:

    “You never know who are your real friends until you go through something like this.”

    I hope for myself — and for everyone reading this — is that I never, ever have the occasion to know who my real friends are.

    – MrJM

  10. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:48 am:


    I saw it when I first read the story, and then again with the link above. Printed to PDF a copy (not that I can post it here). Just checked - still says 2008.

  11. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    Interesting comment in hindsight from a man whose downfall was in large part due to his inability to determine who his real friends were at the time, and to listen to them, rather than those who only wanted to use his power.

  12. - A. Nonymous - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    @ Word: “I forgot Ryan was not allowed to attend his wife’s funeral. That’s really beyond for pale for a non-violent offender.”

    Hmm. The Willis’ children weren’t able to attend her funeral either.


  13. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    No. That was sick.

  14. - Nonplussed - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 10:58 am:

    Here is a link that summarizes the connection between the Willis children and Ryan. Basically, the truck driver failed to respond to others blaring their horns warning him there was a problem. It was the rampant corruption in the SOS during Ryan’s tenure that led the driver to get his license.

  15. - Centennial - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    @Ron - my thoughts exactly. Sad irony.

  16. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    I’m as hard on Ryan as nearly anyone, by that measure anyone who kills a person while driving drunk is the equivalent of a gang enforcer. I disagree with Wordslinger (surprise) that somehow a white collar criminal (with blue collar implications from his crime) deserves privileges that a blue collar criminal wouldn’t get. I’m also not sure it was that atypical given Ryan’s stature - would Bernie Maddoff would automatically have qualified for both a furlough to visit a dying family member and the funeral either. And half of the reason for RYan’s sentence is deterrence - if the poignancy of Ryan’s time in prison keeps future pols honest it will be well worth it.

  17. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 12:29 pm:

    Ryan wasn’t allowed to his wife’s funeral? Boo hoo, he got special treatment to go see her in the hospital. Not once. Not twice. Not thrice, but four times. How many other prisoners in similar situations get that kind of treatment time and again? I’m going to guess not many because when they do get it, it is for one time only, a funeral after the loved one has died. If you want to be around, do not create a racketeering enterprises that results in 9 people dead.

    Color me skeptical about his contrition for the Willis children. When Scott Willis told George Ryan that the family prayed for him, Ryan proceeded to scream at Willis and berate him.

    Also, as of this comment, the online version of the Sun-Times story still says the Willis children died in 2008.

  18. - LCP45 - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 12:51 pm:

    Expecting Ryan to be humbled by his imprisonment is almost as ludicrous as expecting the same from Blago.

  19. - A guy... - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    The decision to allow visitation at the sick bed or a funeral (it’s almost always one OR the other) is strictly under the purview of the warden at the prison. George made a choice to visit her while still alive. All of these visits are approved spontaneously and under supervision. The “inmate” must often shoulder some of the extra cost of the visit. Based on his behavior, and ability to cover some of those costs (a friend can offer the $), the warden allowed the visits. This isn’t an uncommon accommodation for prisoners no matter what color their collar is; but it’s not a given either. It’s up to the warden.

    I’m not, nor will I ever be George Ryan apologist. He was corrupt and damaged faith in government and put our party at least a decade behind. We’re still recovering. Much of the shenanigans that have gone on are as a result of his time in office. He was part of the cause of “bad government”. He did as much to lead to one party control as any other factor.

    All that being said, I’ve always thought that the neglect of his office caused the circumstances that resulted in the Willis tragedy. I’ve never drawn a straight line saying that he murdered those children. That’s a harsh judgment that is just too extreme.

    He’s paid his debt to society. Now it’s time to see if he can use his remaining years to do more positive things or simply live a very private life.

  20. - naperville soccer mom - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    God bless George Ryan and strike down those who continue to kick him when he’s down.

  21. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 2:03 pm:

    God Bless George Ryan?

    that’s the worst comment I’ve seen here today.

  22. - Jen - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 2:10 pm:

    I would like to thank Mr Ryan and his late wife for all of the good that they did and all of the support that they offered to those in need of addictions or mental health treatment. Without this support and help (some legislative) there are thousands of individuals who whould not have received treatment and support - or for Laura - Prevention as her passion - Springfield and the trade offs have been that way since before I was born - abd I am no longer young - it continues that way today

  23. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 3:04 pm:

    I assume he can’t run again. But if he could…given the dismal state of Illinois politics and even more dismal gubernatorial choices this fall–hey, he might win. He did his time and Americans are all about redemption.

  24. - West Side the Best Side - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 3:27 pm:

    Asking God to bless George Ryan is no problem, asking God to strike down people who criticize him seems extreme for the usual rational discourse that takes place on this site. Rich, any restrictions on some religious fanatic calling on a vengeful God to strike down your commenters?

  25. - A guy... - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 3:54 pm:

    West side…OR you can just let a reactionary emotional comment pass by you instead of pleading with the referee to issue a red card. George inspires passion from all quarters.

  26. - West Side the Best Side - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 4:02 pm:

    A guy - Guess I’m still in the FIFA mode even with the USA out. Just wanted to make sure I didn’t get smitten down for some comment.

  27. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 4:42 pm:

    George, it shouldn’t be a “surprise” that the 171 convicts on death row, which you emptied, would be your BFF …..

  28. - x ace - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 6:56 pm:

    Kankakee Daily Journal also has article and indicates they had extensive interview with former Gov. Ryan and will have significant coverage in their Weekend Edition. Hometown News.

  29. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 7:09 pm:

    I look forward to reading Mr. Ryan’s book when it is published.

  30. - x ace - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 9:11 pm:

    Think some friends gather mornings at the Kankakee McDonalds in Meadowview. Loyalists to the end.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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