Tuesday, April 18, 2006


My favorite Republican

When George Ryan was governor of Illinois, one of the projects he provided funds for was a proposed observatory in Thornton overlooking the world's largest limestone quarry. The proposal was for a visitors center and museum of sorts to house some of the fascinating fossils that are removed regularly from that giant hole in the ground under I-80. It would have also given some insight into the limestone mining process, and become an attraction at least locally. At the very least, it would be a neet place to bring my son.
Local voters in Thornton, however, defeated the proposal in a local referendum. Turns out, they didn't want the attention or attraction. Seeing public sentiment, Material Service, operators of the quarry, fenced in and locked off an existing observation deck where children could go to look at the massive dump trucks and other mining equipment at work. It is now off-limist as well.
Ryan was found guilty yesterday in a criminal trial. I don't want to go into detail about the crimes he committed, as those facts are available elsewhere.
But I did want to register at least one vote of support for the man. I didn't vote for Ryan, and had I forseen his downfall when he was first elected, I would have rejoiced.
But Ryan's execution of his office got in the way. Quite simply, he got things done. He was a refreshing change from the previous few governors, and even better than the man who replaced him. Ryan put money into roads and infrastructure. He made funds available for municipalities for local projects. He made things happen.
Except in Thornton. That was a failure, though not Ryan's fault. He tried. I think that perhaps that sums up his stint as governor of Illinois. My guess is that the corruption under his watch was endemic in the state for decades. He took over, both as secretary of state and as governor, from Jim Edgar, a do-nothing politician whose total lack of action and conviction probably preserved him from legal consequenses.
Ryan, on the other hand, was a man of action, and men of action make enemies. That was his downfall.
But George Ryan remains as my favorite Republican. And that of course begs the statement:
My favorite Republican is an incarcerated Republican.

Your comment reminds me of those made regarding another incarcerated politician. Despite the fact he bankrupted the school fund, and used his connections to fleece the public, there are still those old folks in Chicago Heights that make apologies for their former mayor, saying: "at least he brought lake michigan water to the heights"
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