George Ryan, the convicted felon that once served as Illinois' Governor wants to be released from prison to visit his gravely ill wife, perhaps for the very last time. A debate rages about whether or not Ryan should be allowed to leave the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, IN to travel to his home town of Kankakee to be by Lura Lynn's bed side.
There is no doubt Ryan is devoted to his wife of fifty years. He loves her and would like nothing more than to share her final moments with her.
While George Ryan's reality includes compassion for his wife, that compassion never spilled over onto the public for which he took an oath to serve. Instead, he governed with arrogance and ego.
Ryan's trying to get out of jail now is just one more in a long line of attempts to gain his freedom. When he was convicted of wrongdoing, another ex-governor—James Thompson—Ryan's pro-bono lawyer tried every available legal maneuver to keep Ryan from serving the 6 1/2 year sentence imposed upon him. Just a few weeks ago, Thompson tried to get Ryan released from prison to be with his wife. The judge ruled against it.
Ryan's initial sentence was based on a mere sampling of his deeds during his career as a public official. There is no way that all of Ryan's questionable actions could be presented in a court of law during his trial.
I know George Ryan. I recall once asking him a question, in my role as a news reporter for Ryan's home town paper. For a brief instant, he looked at me. I saw a cold, look of contempt in his eyes before he turned and walked away, dismissing me without acknowledging my presence. He didn't have to answer me. He was the governor. I was nothing more than a nuisance to him.
I've seen Ryan make decisions that hurt people. Ryan was the first to authorize the state tobuy land for a new airport near Peotone, one that even after 25 years, is not approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and for which no regional consensus has or will ever be reached.
But to move the project forward, Ryan made a deal with a friend of his whereby the state department of transportation would buy the unsold lots in his high-priced subdivision, even though the property wouldn't be used for the project. The act of buying the first ground 'for the airport' even though it was later intended to be sold as unnecessary to the project, was enough to scare people into selling their land to the state. The airport wasn't needed, yet Ryan didn't flinch when people pleaded with him to end the airport nightmare that had been discussed since the 1960's. Some of those people suffered health issues not unlike those of Ryan's own wife. Yet, he didn't care about their plight. So many good people died trying to fight the scourge that he perpetuated. There was nothing they could do to protect the land that in some cases had been in their families for generations, because the big, bad, governor wanted to take it from them.
When George Ryan's actions were indirectly responsible for the death of the six Willis children, Ryan showed no remorse. Even if that accident wasn't Ryan's fault directly, it did shine a light on how Ryan ran the Secretary of State's office.
For me, direct blame isn't the issue. Ryan's attitude is the issue. He didn't care that two people had to bury their six children.
I'm genuinely sorry that Lura Lynn Ryan is so ill. Who knows if she is conscious, or if she would even know if her husband was by her bedside? In her near-death state, her mind will likely cause her believe he is with her. He doesn't need to be physically there.
George Ryan needs to pay the price—the complete price for his deeds. And that includes another three years in prison. He does not deserve special privilege.
Ryan did spent about two hours with his ailing wife, according to reports. The decision to allow him to be released from prison for that period was customarily assigned to the prison warden, and is not an uncommon occurrence.
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