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This just in… Durbin pulls trigger; Birkett exploring run; McKenna turns thumbs down on Ryan

Monday, Dec 1, 2008

*** Read Sen. Dick Durbin’s letter to President George W. Bush by clicking here ***

* 2:19 pm - Last week, Sen. Durbin said he was just thinking about asking President Bush to commute George Ryan’s sentence. Today, despite the huge public outcry against a commutation, Durbin announced that he’s gone ahead and done it

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is asking President Bush to commute ex-Gov. George Ryan’s sentence to time served.

Durbin made the announcement today — a week after expressing sympathy for Ryan and former first lady Lura Lynn Ryan.

In a letter to the president, Durbin tells Bush: “Though no one can or should excuse his official misconduct, I am writing to as that you consider commuting his sentence to time served.”

Durbin cited Ryan’s age, at 74, as a reason for a commutation.

* From Durbin’s letter

“For those who would argue that a commutation makes light of his crimes, it is clear that he has already paid a significant price and will continue to do so as long as he lives,” Durbin wrote in the letter, a copy of which was provided to reporters. “Justice is a sword that should be tempered with compassion. Further imprisonment will not, in my opinion, serve the ends of justice.”

* 2:43 pm - DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett announces that he’s thinking about running statewide in 2010, but doesn’t say what office. From an e-mail to supporters…

With Thanksgiving behind us, it would be easy for Republicans in Illinois to feel sorry about their plight. That’s the wrong attitude and here’s why.

We can use this time to bounce back stronger than ever. We can use this time to reshape our message and techniques while retaining our core principles. It’s within our grasp, subject to our will to work hard and give the people a vision of government they can believe in.

That is what I plan to do in the coming months. I have decided that I can’t sit idly by and watch the greatness of our state continue its slide. I am exploring a run for statewide office in 2010 and I plan to make a positive difference for you and our state.

In the coming months, I will travel the state and figure out how we can succeed in two years. I became quite familiar with all corners of the our great state during my two successful primary victories in 2002 and 2006. I will examine our past mistakes, and, with your help, come up with an agenda for the future that resonates with Illinois voters. An agenda that speaks to your values and concerns.

We must do a better job mastering the new technologies of grass roots politics-the internet, social networking, online fundraising. We must do a better job connecting with young voters and with other groups that are gravitating away from us, such as Latinos. We have good ideas and approaches to policy but we must do a better job of explaining them….

* 3:47 pm - Statement from Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna…

“This issue is not one of party, but of bringing real change to Illinois by the way we conduct business.

“My heart goes out to Mrs. Ryan and her family during this difficult time, however, Governor Ryan was convicted in federal court by a jury of his peers and all of his appeals, including one to the U.S. Supreme Court, were denied.

“A commutation of Governor Ryan’s sentence sends the wrong message to not only those who betray the public trust but also to the honest, hardworking men and women of Illinois who expect public corruption will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

“Senator Durbin and Governor Blagojevich’s line of thinking only contributes to the difficult task of bringing change to Illinois.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - county clerk - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:25 pm:

    Just getting in practice for Blago.

  2. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:30 pm:

    My respect for the Senator continues to increase. He did not have to do this; there was no serious pressure; there is no political benefit (if anything, there is a downside). My vote for Sen. Durbin was well deserved.

  3. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:32 pm:

    I bet myself a dollar that Durbin would find a way to back out of last week’s comments. I lost.

  4. - Captain Flume - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:32 pm:

    Yep, let’s see if practice makes perfect, or if it is only perfect practice that makes perfect. The senior U.S. Senator from Illinois is starting his warm-up pitches.

  5. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:33 pm:

    The more I think about this, the more I think it’s a done deal, or close to a done deal.

    I suspect someone in the White House political office indicated they might be willing to do it, but not if homegrown Democrats would pound them for it.

    Durbin provides bipartisan cover. Blago’s on board, too. Daley next? There seems to be something of a coordinated p.r. effort, softening up the ground to, let’s say, a Christmas Eve announcement.

    Obama should stay away.

  6. - frustrated GOP - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:38 pm:

    Perhaps George could finnish his sentence doing community service somewhere in Illinois? I know a house not being used in Springfield. Put him inchrge of the state for 6 months and I bet we would have a capital bill. Of course it will cost a few extra dollars but at least something would be getting done.
    I bet his approval rating is higher than Blago’s.

  7. - Who Knows - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:39 pm:

    Either way you slice it up, this issue is one to surely fire up the Ryan haters. I saw one letter-to-the-editor” yesterday where the writer wrote that they hope Ryan dies in jail. Wow, what a compassionate person. A death sentence for six counts of corruption in Illinois! And by the way, spare me the rebuttal about the Willis children. Ryan was not responsible for those kids’ death, plain and simple.

  8. - N'ville - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:40 pm:

    wordslinger, I think you hit the nail on the head.

  9. - Who Knows - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:41 pm:

    Correction: 18 counts, but who’s counting. Still not a capital crime in my opinion.

  10. - Bill Baar - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:42 pm:

    Obama should stay away.

    If Word Slinger right, and I suspect he is, it’s shame they’re giving O and easy way to stay away.

    Bush should pass this one to him.

  11. - Vote Quimby! - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:50 pm:

    ==I’ve spent my public career trying to help people who feel they’ve been mistreated or wronged by government,” Durbin said==

    How on earth can George Ryan qualify as being ‘mistreated or wronged’? I don’t wish any ill will on him, but wasn’t it the Beretta theme song that said ‘don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time’?
    I also think wordslinger has it right (as is custom) that this is just wrapping up something already decided. Sure, Blago’s on board, but I don’t think he should expect the same sympathy since I don’t think George Ryan campaigned on ethics reform…

  12. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:51 pm:

    Is it too late to take back my vote for Durbin?

    What about my political contributions?

    6 1/2 years is a small price to pay for the deaths of six children, which are on George Ryan’s head - although apparently not his conscience. Yet Ryan has only served little more than a year.

    Its great that Senator Durbin had a chance to talk to George Ryan’s wife. Did he extend the same courtesy to the parents of the six Willis children?


  13. - Bill - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:53 pm:

    Thank You, Senator Durbin, for having the courage to do the right thing without regard for political consequences. Your courage and compassion are two of the reasons we re-elected you. You never let us down.

  14. - anon24 - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:55 pm:

    Who Knows, I couldn’t agree more. Chris Britt’s cartoon yesterday was slanderous sanctimony.

  15. - jagsfan217 - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 2:58 pm:

    When Mr. Durbin asks the President to commute the sentence of all elderly, non-violent criminals, I’ll buy into his act of compassion.

    Until then, this looks like the elite helping out the elite.

  16. - How Ironic - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:00 pm:

    No, Chris Britt was right on.

  17. - Pat collins - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:06 pm:

    You know, it’s not like the Judge threw the book at Ryan. From a news clip at the time:

    Ryan faces a maximum penalty of 95 years in prison and $4.5 million in fines for racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, tax fraud and making false statements.

    So he gets a light sentence, and then gets out early from that?

    Durbin’s courageous act

    Gee, he JUST won another 6 years, and seems to be in a heavily D state. Yes, that DOES amount to courage for Durbin, I am sure.

  18. - Bill Baar - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:08 pm:

    What about Betty Loren Maltese? …Sonny Stillo (who I think shared a cell with Ryan).

    Who speaks for them?

  19. - lifer - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:09 pm:

    It always amazes me that we, the public, need to consider his family. George should have thought about his frail wife and his family’s reputation before committing his crime. It it not our fault he is in jail. The entire Ryan family benefitted from George’s power and abuse of it. While I hate to see an older lady alone it is her husband that caused the separation.

  20. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:10 pm:

    Durbin is way out there, but I guess it’s low risk. 2014 is a long way off.

    Still, I’m curious as to why he stepped up. I’m sure they have a lot of mutual friends from over the years, maybe that’s it.

  21. - stones - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:11 pm:

    Maybe I could accept Pres. Bush commuting Ryan’s sentence execept for the fact that he has NEVER expressed any remorse for his misdeeds. In fact, he remains defiant to this day regarding the events leading up to his imprisonment.

    I do feel sorry for Lura Lynn but until George Ryan expresses some contrition he needs to remain behind bars.

  22. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:12 pm:

    Dick Durbin is an embarrassment to Illinois, to the Democratic party, and to anyone with a sense of justice. George Ryan was a highly corrupt official who has never expressed remorse for his crimes. For Durbing to have the nerve to imply that Ryan was “mistreated” or “wronged” by the government is beyond belief.

    Durbin was re-elected a few weeks ago. Why didn’t he say in his campaign that he favored clemency for Ryan? Because he knows the public will be- rightfully- hopping mad about this.

    To paraphrase Bob Dylan- When you think that you’ve lost all respect for Dick Durbin, you find out you can always lose a little more.

  23. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:20 pm:

    While I think he’s making the request because he’s a nice guy, Durbin’s request might also be to head off a pardon. It’s easy to picture Bush pardoning Ryan, what does the lame duck have to lose? By requesting a commutation, Durbin makes it a lot harder for Bush to grant a pardon. Those of you who want Ryan to rot in prison, should probably thank Sen. Durbin for heading off a Bush end-of-term pardon, which would have wiped Ryan’s record clean.

    For those who think this is a set-up for a future Blago get-out-of-jail request, it could be just the opposite. Sen. Durbin has shown he is compassionate when warranted. He can tell Rod’s friends that when Rod is in his seventies and Patty is ill, he’ll put through the same request.

    I was (and still am) a strong supporter of Glenn Poshard. He was straight worked well with others, and would have been a great Governor. (He’d still be in office now!) That said, from what I have heard about Gov. Ryan, he was willing to work with pretty much everyone to keep the state on track. I suspect he spoke with Sen. Durbin on a regular basis. Gov. B apparently does none of those things and seems to make a practice of burning bridges wherever he finds them. It is hard to imagine anyone asking for or giving a pardon or commutation for him (if he gets convicted of something). So toss out those tin-foil hats! If Gov. B goes to jail, he will serve his full sentence.

  24. - BandCamp - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:23 pm:

    Oh, and because I voted for Ryan, I also am responsible for the death of the Willis children. I wish y’all would leave that horrible tragedy out of this discussion. Corrupt? Yes. Murderer? Hand of Death? No.

  25. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:31 pm:

    Mr. Pot/kettle reminds us of the Ryan-Poshard election and how all of us would be better off if Poshard had been elected. Let us also not forget how extremely hard the Chicago Tribune worked to vilify Glenn Poshard and defend George Ryan, distoring the facts and making highly personal attacks along the way.

    I don’t recall the Trib making much of a defense of their hero Ryan on his way to prison. But as they say, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. Perhaps when he gets out of jail, he will get a free subscription….

  26. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:36 pm:

    BandCamp -

    Everyone who turned a blind eye to public corruption because they thought it was a “victimless crime” or just “The Chicago Way” bears moral responsibility. You betchya.

    Legally, prosecutors could have made the case that Ryan was guilty of manslaughter. As the head of a criminal conspiracy that led to six deaths, he was criminally responsible. However, its a much tougher case to make in court, and prosecutors went for the conviction they knew they could win.

    But no, you’re not a “murderer” because you voted for George Ryan.

  27. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:40 pm:

    Pot, Ryan’s request is for commutation. Pardon isn’t even in the ballgame.

  28. - BandCamp - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:42 pm:

    ===Legally, prosecutors could have made the case that Ryan was guilty of manslaughter.===

    And if my Aunt had a ____ she’d be my Uncle.

    I’m just sayin, bad tragedy. Trying to use Ryan as the head piece, again, for that tragedy is overplaying the event. Those arguing for him to stay in prison because of that event need to quit and just base their view on why he’s in prison.

    I don’t agree with all the comments, but those who stay on point I respect.

  29. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 3:50 pm:

    ===Legally, prosecutors could have made the case that Ryan was guilty of manslaughter===

    Ridiculous. Seriously. If they could’ve, they would’ve.

  30. - Vote Quimby! - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:01 pm:

    I’m guessing McKenna and GRyan were never that close….

  31. - Excessively rabid - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:07 pm:

    I’m with Stones. How can we forgive someone who’s been convicted but refuses to acknowledge his guilt?

  32. - Reddbyrd - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:18 pm:

    Capt. McKenna remains one the the funniest guy in IL politics.
    He needs to get a gig at Zanie’s. I think Vernon Hill strip mall site will do.

    First he steers ILGOP boat into another election iceberg. Then he gets all mouthy about George Ryan. One would tink Ryan snuck into IL while McKenna was dozing.
    Actually the families have been pals for years

  33. - Pick of the litter - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:18 pm:

    Wordslinger is right. This is cover for a done deal. In about a year or two they’ll reinstate his pension because he was such an honorable crook.

  34. - Huntingwithaswitch - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:23 pm:

    Birket is delusional. No republican will win statewide office in Illinois for a very long time. Certainly not a dweeb like Birket.

  35. - EmptySuitParade - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:39 pm:

    Actually BrickHeadJoe will serve a good purpose. He will trounce StateWideTom in the primary
    BTW has StateWideTom tossed his 1.3 cents (downgraded due to Stock Market Crash) on George Ryan?

  36. - GOPJay - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:41 pm:

    Why commute Ryan’s sentence over that of another convicted criminal. If we decide to commute the sentences of all non-violent crimals over a certain age I will listed to the arguments. A person should not be treated better than another simply because of political positions held. Trust in our Justice system.

  37. - BigBob - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:43 pm:

    Will Senator Durbin now submit thousands of letters to President Bush asking that he commute the sentences of other prisoners who are getting old; whose wifes are frail and in poor health; who has lost their good family name and financial security; whose wifes have peace of mind because their husbands actually did nothing wrong; and who represent little actual threat to society?

    I have always been a fan of Senator Durbin, but this spoils pot for me. What a disappointing sell-out of Illinois citizens by a supposedly smart, in-touch Senator. This is just another example that the politial class just don’t get it.

  38. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:45 pm:

    O: “One day, and that day may never come, I will ask you to perform a service for me. Until then, accept this act of justice as a gift on my inauguration day.”

  39. - Rebel13 - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:47 pm:

    He was sentenced to 6.5 years when he could have seen upwards of 95 years. We can’t let every person convicted of a crime a get-out-of-jaill-free card simply because it is hard on their relatives! If this is the guideline, then let everyone out! Every prisoner has someone on the outside that is hurting from their crime(s).

    Let him serve the entire amount!

  40. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:49 pm:

    sorry to disagree, but the legal theory that holds Ryan guilty of manslaughter is a common one. He was involved in a criminal conspiracy. In fact, he was at the center of it. If not for that conspiracy, an unqualified commercial driver wouldn’t have been on the road, and six people would not have died.

    Its no different than being the mastermind of a bank robbery. Even if you’re not at the bank at the time of the robbery, even if you didn’t intend on anyone getting hurt, if someone gets shot inside the bank or run-over during the getaway, you’re on the hook for that death.

    The only reason i say “manslaughter” and not “murder” is that the deaths were the result of the driver’s inaction, not action.

    Keep in mind that manslaughter or murder charges are beyond the scope of federal law and therefore federal prosecutors in most cases, so it wasn’t ever really on the table here, and unless they can show an ongoing criminal conspiracy that extends the statute of limitations, i doubt that state prosecutors could now indict on 1994 deaths. These are questions best asked of Tamara Holder.

  41. - Six Degrees of Separation - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:52 pm:

    Does anyone here actually think that Durbin’s political career would be threatened by, ummm, who was it, Sauerburg, if he came out for this before November? Similar to Jesse White, the Strogers, or the Daleys, as long as he is willing and has a pulse, he will be returned to office by the voters.

    I think he had made up his mind to mull it over and then decided to send the letter, and the timing wasn’t of that much consequence.

  42. - Captain America - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:54 pm:

    I have no objection to the commutation if he demonstrates contrition for his crimes. Otherwise, I think he probably deserves to rot until he’s eligible for parole.

    My opinion is that commutation of Ryan’s sentence is a done deal,regardless of what I think. It’s going to happen. I can’t say I’m surprised or outraged.

  43. - Anon - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 4:55 pm:

    I agree with everything in the letter, expect one thing.

    I really want Blago and Ryan to share a cell and if he gets a pardon, that dream can never come true.

  44. - Bill - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 5:01 pm:

    George is a decent guy who did a lot for Illinois. He effectively took the death penalty off the table. He was a good Republican. He deserves to get off a lot more than those rappers and other scum bags that Bush pardoned earlier last month. He deserves to get off more than Marc Rich and those other scum bags that Clinton pardoned on his way out the door. Ryan had nothing to do with that accident. He might not have even known he was doing anything untoward. That doesn’t make him a genius but it doesn’t make him a criminal either. He has done enough time. If Bush is actually a decent person (anything is possible) he’ll cut George loose. Free George Ryan!

  45. - A Citizen - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 5:27 pm:

    Well, we can all see what a learning example Ryan’s conviction and imprisonment has been! Just observe the Operation Board Games players - they really were educated by this prosecution. I think Ryan should get a pardon, not just merely a commutation. Illinois politics as usual is just being rewritten and George could be a Professor Emeritus at the U of I on the New Illinois Politics - Its Rules and Ethics. Who better qualified? Okay Fitz could be his adjunct professor. All who would run for office would be required to take (and pass) the course. A win/win out of the box plus for the citizens of this great state!

  46. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 5:38 pm:

    The question of whether Ryan bears any responsibility for the Willis children really rests on one question. Was the corruption that he was involved with the “proximate cause” of the deaths of the Willis children? If it was, then heap the blame on Ryan. If not, then we’ll have to let that one go.

    “Proximate cause is the initial act which sets off a natural and continuous sequence of events that produces injury. In the absence of the initial act which produces injury, no injury would have resulted.”

    The driver bought his CDL and did not have the legally required command of English or adequate training. Was that the proximate cause that allowed him to ignore repeated warnings that eventually led the piece of steel to fall off his truck and kill the Willis kids.

    If the accident wouldn’t have happened but for the corruption he was part of, then that is the proximate cause and he bears responsibility.

  47. - Bill - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 5:40 pm:

    Excellent idea!
    Maybe Glenn could find something for Ryan at SIU.

  48. - this voter will remember - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 5:41 pm:

    I agree with GOPJay and BigBob. Ryan needs to serve his full term.
    I think this statement says it all:
    Last week, Lura Lynn Ryan told the Sun-Times that neither she nor her husband had any regrets:

    “If he had it to do over — and I’ve heard him say this — he would govern the same way as he did before,” she said. “All he wanted to do was help people and I think he’s done that.”

    His wife stated that he would govern the same way. It appears that the only people he helped were his friends and family who benefited from the Illinois taxpayers. No thank you Mr. Durbin, don’t do us any favors.

  49. - A Citizen - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 5:53 pm:

    Regarding the Willis tragedy, the truck driver and the piece of steel that came off the truck and caused the tragedy - Why doesn’t anyone blame the trucking company that put the unsafe truck into service with an unqualified driver at the wheel? That is your real culprit, perhaps not as much “fun” as poking at Ryan who had No direct or even indirect involvement. Leave the Willis tragedy out of it - the dog simply doesn’t hunt!

  50. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 6:02 pm:

    I can’t say I care one way or another if Ryan gets out, after all, I would expect a Repub admin to open the cages on the way out. What is surprising is our holier than though Democratic Senator jumping in with both feet. I always thought he was a tool of the boys ever since he gripped to Daley after bashing the war in Iraq but I didn’t think he was this much in their pockets.

    Durbin should remember what happened to Alan Dixon when he voted for Clarence Thomas for the Supremes. We ended up with Diana Ross.

  51. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 6:31 pm:

    holier than though, arrgh-sorry I meant thou.

  52. - downhereforyears - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 6:57 pm:

    Been a republican for 40 years….McKenna is by far the most embarassing leader we have ever chosen. But then again who really wants the job. But wait….when Madigan and Cullerton pass a tax increase this spring maybe someone worth the job will take it. My vote is Shillerstrom (sp) and I’m nost even from Dupage county. Let George free….anyone who knows Lura Lynn will tell you she needs him . For Gods sake they really have suffered enough.

  53. - Cassandra - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 7:08 pm:

    I think Durbin should do what he thinks is right and move on. He’s been a good senator for Illinois although he has a multitude of flaws–like most of us.

    I would question if he made this recommendation
    as a representative of Illinois’ grossly corrupt
    political establishment. He’s not Jim Thompson.
    I think he probably felt sorry for Mrs. R. and for Ryan himself and was reacting to those feelings. It can’t have been easy for her to beg from a prominent Democrat, after all. And Ryan did some good things as governor.

    We should let it go. It’s not important. What is important is the next crop of greedy politicos and
    pay to players lining up to rip off Illinois taxpayers. Let’s focus our energies on watching them.

  54. - steve schnorf - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 7:24 pm:

    Finally, after years, another elected official with the b—s to do what he thinks is right. Durbin has my support as long as he runs, unless he’s running against someone else who also publicly spoke out against the travesty that was imposed on George Ryan, and those appear to be few and far between.

  55. - Bookworm - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 7:34 pm:

    Concerning Ryan’s responsibility for the deaths of the Willis children: It seems to me that the primary responsibility should rest with the trucking company that willingly hired a driver that was not qualified, purchased a license for him and put him behind the wheel of an unsafe truck.

    While the licenses for bribes scheme/policy in effect at SOS during Ryan’s tenure made it easier for the trucking company to do what it did, the ultimate choice to break the law rests with that company. SOS did not force them to hire an unqualified driver or maintain an unsafe vehicle; that was the company’s choice and theirs alone.

    That being said, it would still be appropriate for Ryan to acknowledge that his SOS failed in its oversight responsibility in this case and apologize for whatever part it did or may have played in the tragedy.

  56. - steve schnorf - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 7:40 pm:

    and on the SoS employees who took the bribes (and always did and still are) and used the feds as a way to buy themselves off at George’s expense. Anyone who thinks those employees were taking those bribes for the purpose of using the money to buy fundraising tickets is delusional. What, did they just take bribes once a year, at fundraiser time? Of course not, but once a year they may have squeezed a little harder in their already criminal scheme.

  57. - A Citizen - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 7:43 pm:

    Paul Powell. Wonder where the shoeboxes of million plus in cash might have originated? This crap/corruption is endemic not unique to Ryan. Almost approaches an Historic “site” designation at the St. Nicholas Hotel in Springfield.

  58. - steve schnorf - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 7:52 pm:

    And I believe it was about $80,000, not millions. And with George? Oh, a week or two a year at a friend’s vacation home. All penny ante stuff. Tax evasion, without remembering that the taxes were actually paid, not evaded. B______t! If no one had been out to make an example of him, fines or a misdemeanor or two, if anything.

    Lately we’ve been seeing scandals involving hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars. Based on George’s 6 1/2 years, on a dollar for dollar basis, those guys would have to go away for fifty years, but they won’t. The prosecutor wants Governors, not underlings. Ryan’s sentence, relative to bank robbers and terrorists, was obscene.

  59. - Downstate GOP Faithless - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 8:08 pm:

    Why are republicans weighing in on this? it seems the best way to move forward is to not even talk about it…regarding birkett and his run-how can republicans expect to rebuild if the same darn people keep seeking office–this was a strategy that didnt work for the dair man, andrea zinga, and a number of other candidates…

  60. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 8:33 pm:

    AA has gone wobbly on Durbin a few times over the past several years, but I’m solidly back in his corner now. It’s good to see a politician with some courage. Bill, remember this when you get there.

    FWIW, Steve, I thought the Paul Powell cash total was $800,000, but I could be mistaken.

  61. - A Citizen - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 8:38 pm:

    AA, in todays money it would be a gazillion. But, where did it come from and why was there no investigation? Because it was business as usual, the Illinois way.

  62. - fedup dem - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 8:39 pm:

    I am disgusted with Durbin’s decision, particularly since George Ryan has refused to show any remorse for his actions. There is no reason for commuting Ryan’s sentence if he refuses to acknowledge his responsibility. And how courageous is it for Durbin to annouce this four wekks after winning another six-year term? Give me a break! Better yet, give me a Senator I can be proud of. Right now we’re down to one, and I feel no pride in his actions.

  63. - scoot - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 8:44 pm:

    It’s the right thing to do..not the popular thing to do..but it’s right. Ryan has served close to the same timeframe as other former Ill Gov’s have in federal prison.

    This is prolly the only time I will agree w/ Durbin.

  64. - BandCamp - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 9:16 pm:

    Steve is correct.

    And WHY WHY WHY hasn’t Bill been appointed to the Senate seat. I’ve never read more truth from him. This guy’s skill set far surpasses JJJ.

  65. - The Fox - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 10:09 pm:

    Take a step back. George Ryan did not create the practices that may or may not be responsible for Illinois roads strewn with accident victims..he inherited the political activity in the SOS office and the people who ran it over decades under his predecessors. I dont believe not rooting them out is a federal crime and six years in prison unconscionable. Good for you Sen. Durbin.

  66. - steve schnorf - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 10:14 pm:

    AA, I have a tendency to get zeroes wrong. I’ve always hoped this shortcoming wasn’t responsible for the state’s budget shortfalls, but I guess I’ll never know.

  67. - Wumpus - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 11:03 pm:

    I know of a lot of people who are ill/need help while their companion serves prision time. Will Durbin write a letter for them as well?

  68. - Speaking At Will - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 11:07 pm:

    I think that everyone who is taking a hard line on the Willis family trajedy is not seeing the middle ground.

    Ryan did have an indirect role in the deaths of those children, but he isnt the lone cause of thier death. Absent the Lic. 4 bribes scandal perhaps those people are still alive, so you cant completely separate Ryan from those deaths.

    One the other hand, you cant bring that into this conversation because he was not convicted of those deaths. As long as we live in a country of laws lets deal with the crime he was convicted of and then deceide if he has paid the price for the crimes the court found him guilty of.

    IMHO, and I dont know if this could be done, Ryan should be released from prison so that he and his wife can be together for her sake.

    However with that would come a direct admission of guilt and a public apology to the people of Illinois. It is his unrepentant attitude that troubles myself, and I think most others, the most.

    I dont want to see photos of George Ryan

  69. - Speaking At Will - Monday, Dec 1, 08 @ 11:09 pm:

    in the newspaper with a headline that reads, “Ryan’s sentence Commuted, still contends he did nothing wrong.”

  70. - FillB - Tuesday, Dec 2, 08 @ 1:11 am:

    Joe Birkett: Jim Oberweis, without the sunny disposition.

  71. - Dan S, a Voter and Cubs Fan - Tuesday, Dec 2, 08 @ 8:09 am:

    Durbin by his actions is making a mockery of the public’s trust and the Judicial System. The “Good Ole Boys” club seems to be alive and well.

  72. - Waco Kid - Tuesday, Dec 2, 08 @ 8:16 am:

    As usual, Durbin and the rest of the Illinois polticians care only about themselves and not the people.

  73. - BandCamp - Tuesday, Dec 2, 08 @ 8:19 am:

    ===The “Good Ole Boys” club seems to be alive and well.===

    Newsflash! Ain’t never died and isn’t goin’ nowhere.

    The world isn’t going to end if his sentence is commuted. Why do some of you insist that this is such a big deal? GR, old, not in good health, has served part of his term, and sure as heck ain’t gonna come out and start handing out illegal licenses to immigrants. Like this is going to let GR start his life over…not likely.

    World needs more compassion.

  74. - Dan S, a Voter and Cubs Fan - Tuesday, Dec 2, 08 @ 8:23 am:

    BandCamp, you are wrong. I feel compasion for Ryans family, but he was convicted and sentenced had numerous appeals that have been turned down. He was justly sentenced and should serve his time according to the sentence. Are you suggesting that all convicted felons receive the same treatment?

  75. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, Dec 2, 08 @ 8:29 am:

    Paul Powell of Illinois: A Lifelong Democrat for more on the $800k in shoe boxes…

    Good for McKenna on Ryan.

  76. - Beowulf - Tuesday, Dec 2, 08 @ 8:38 am:

    I am amazed that Andy McKenna said something negative about anybody (George Ryan)that is connected to the Illinois Republican Party? That is out of character for Andy.

    Dick Durbin was smart enough to make this statement about Ryan after he was assured of another term in office. I’ll bet he would never have made this statement regarding a commutation for Ryan 6 months before he was up for re-election. That would have been political suicide. Durbin could be getting something in return from Big Jim or somebody? Somebody please remember to remind Illinois voters of Senator Durbin’s benevolence and sense of justice when he comes up for re-election. He obviously can’t feel the pulse of the little people in Illinois while living at his current residence of 1104 Ivory Tower.

  77. - GOP'er - Tuesday, Dec 2, 08 @ 8:45 am:

    Wow, Andy McKenna emerges from his latest election disaster (where he did next to nothing positive) to weigh in on the obvious side of an obvious issue, where most everyone was already onboard.

    The guy’s a joke. When is he going to step down?

  78. - GOP'er - Tuesday, Dec 2, 08 @ 8:50 am:

    Oh yeah, Birkett’s a loser too. He and McKenna both need to go away.

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