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Now Even Statues Of Dirty Illinois Governors Want Your Money

The Beachwood Reporter has received from a reader a letter from the GFWC Woman's Club of Kankakee requesting donations for a project to erect three statues in a Kankakee park dedicated to three Illinois governors from that area. You might remember that I wrote about this Kankakee-based fundraising effort a couple weeks ago suggesting that the Woman's Club might find a more worthy cause to raise money for. After all, two of those governors are a disgrace and embarrassment to Illinois.

To refresh your memory, first there is Len Small, who served as governor from 1921 to 1929, and is known among some as "perhaps the dirtiest Illinois governor of them all." Better known to current Kankakee constituents is George Ryan. Ryan was convicted of 20 federal felonies and served five years in a federal prison. Neither is what most would call statue-worthy.

The fundraising letter we received was written by Dondi Maricle, the club's president. She sent it out about a week-and-a-half ago. She states in the letter that the club "has initiated a project to honor our former governors . . . Len Small, Samuel H. Shapiro, and George H. Ryan." The letter assigned levels of donations as follows:

Diamond: Over $10,000
Gold: $5,000 - $10,000
Silver: $2,500 - $5,000
Bronze: $250 - $2,500)
Patron: (under $250)

Yikes! My experience with Illinois politicians and their backers is that anyone who contributes $10,000 or more is going to expect something in return, and there is a good chance it will involve something illegal, unethical or immoral.

I certainly don't believe the Woman's Club of Kankakee has anything to offer along those lines, that is unless erecting a statue honoring a convicted criminal is immoral. There are some who might take it that far. Even I, Ryan's No. 1 adversary, believe that is a stretch.

There is a historical significance that three of Illinois' governors are from Kankakee, and I have been told that is one of the motives behind the project. I can't help but wonder if there are other blemished historical figures who have statues honoring them. For instance, Benedict Arnold, the infamous American Revolution traitor, comes to mind. There is the Boot Monument in a national park honoring Arnold's leg. You see, before he was a traitor Arnold was a hero. He was wounded in his leg at the Battle of Saratoga. The monument does not, however, mention Benedict Arnold by name. After all, subsequent to his heroic past Arnold committed treason by plotting to betray the American cause by handing over the American fort at West Point in exchange for cash and a commission with the British Army.

Sound familiar? George Ryan betrayed the taxpayers of Illinois in exchange for cash by turning over safe highways to unqualified drivers of big trucks carrying hazardous materials and weighing 80,000 pounds. That's not a stretch now, is it?

It has been difficult to wrap my head around this statue thing so I decided to call the lady from the Woman's Club who composed the letter.

Dondi Maricle Is very friendly and polite. She definitely is one of those people who looks at life with the glass being always half-full. I may not agree with her, but I have to admire the positivity.

She told me that the Woman's Club has not received any cash yet as a result of her letter, but some businesses and individuals have donated or promised items for the silent auction the club is holding during their upcoming St Patrick's Day dinner. She said all proceeds from that event are going toward the statues fund. She sent out about 150 letters a week-and-a-half ago and they are still waiting on donations. The Woman's Club expects to raise $117,000. The letter states they want to reach their goal by August 2016. She explained in our phone conversation that her club may have been overly ambitious and has changed their goal to spring of next year.

Dondi cheerfully explained that Kankakee is the only city in Illinois that has had three governors. She wants people to remember the good, not the bad. She pointed out that no matter what you do in life, you are never 100% right. People make mistakes.

I asked her if the project would come to a halt if enough people were to rally against erecting the statues. She responded: "I hope not. You have to look at the positive. [Ryan] served his time."

She then commented, "When Ryan ran for governor, I did not support him." She said she supported Glenn Poshard.

Poshard was a high school teacher and coach who was first elected to the Illinois Senate and then to the U.S. House of Representatives. He lost to Ryan in the 1998 gubernatorial election, and was later appointed president of Southern Illinois University. During that time he was accused of plagiarizing his doctoral dissertation as a graduate student, but was ultimately cleared.

After Poshard left Congress, he and his wife founded the Poshard Foundation for Abused Children. One of its projects was the construction of a woman's shelter in downstate Cairo that opened in 2003.

Many would call that a worthy cause. I wonder: Are there are any abused children or women in need of shelter in Kankakee County?

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This Just In: Governors Statues Get Early Approval.

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Ed Hammer is a retired police captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty. He can be reached through his website.

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Previously by Ed Hammer:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies
* George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview
* Bugging The Chicago School Board
* Cop vs. Teacher
* Signs of Change
* Pols vs. Teachers
* The Terre Haute Redemption
* Rahm's War On Teachers
* About Those Indicted Nurses
* Body Language Bingo: A Guide To Watching The Presidential Debates
* George Ryan's Day Of Independence
* The Ironic George Ryan.
* George Ryan Is Unrepentant.
* Must Like Puppies.
* ILGov2014: The George Ryan Connection.
* Exclusive: Trump Puts Lion Killer On VP Short List.
* The Statues Of Kankakee.

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See also: Honoring A True Illinois Hero.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on February 10, 2016


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