Thursday, September 7, 2006

Personal Asides: The George Ryan Conviction…Jesse Jackson, Jr. Signs Up for the Roosevelt Course…and Jim Edgar Now is Problematic

George Ryan.

The professional side of the Combine started not with George Ryan but Dick Ogilvie. Ogilvie was a not unlike George Ryan look-and-act-alike who privately eschewed idealism of any sort. His rise was swift: from federal prosecutor whose attempt to convict Tony Accardo was first successful then overruled…to Sheriff of Cook county…then president of the County Board…finally governor. He sought to duplicate the Daley machine by building a similar organization in Illinois. He ran for governor without any commitment for an income tax. Once in, he did what he had always intended and signed the tax. His gamble was to survive the immediate unpopularity and make up for it by expanding state services. If it had worked, he had planned to run for president as a kind of Rockefeller clone, admittedly without the charisma. He ran afoul of populist Dan Walker who linked anti-government conservatives with liberals. Ogilvie lost in 1972. After he lost, he spent the next few years in private life in great uncertainty, the rumors flying that he might well be indicted. That it never happened was due to a variety of things: a favorable U. S. prosecutor in Jim Thompson, a favorable GOP Nixon administration and a Ford administration that installed Ed Levi, former president of the University of Chicago, as AG.

But Ogilvie started a trend in modern state Republican politics. Prior to his service, Republicanism had been a big business type of thing. Young professionals worked in politics, then left for the private sector and didn’t continue with strong involvement. Ogilvie built an administration of tough, professionals who resolved to stay in the system. But they were far from ideologues. They moved to the private sector and played ball with both parties. One was Bob Kjellander; one was Ogilvie’s patronage man, Don Udsteun. Some came back with Governor Jim Thompson but especially with George Ryan. A number of those convicted with Ryan date back to Ogilvie.

Those men formed a cadre of so-called “professionals” who resolved to make full-time careers in politics with lobbying and bipartisan dealings. Like Ogilvie, like George Ryan, like Jim Thompson they have no philosophical view of government whatsoever. They are illusionists without ideals. I always thought George Ryan was a poor dumb mutt who was a blunderbuss with no subtlety. He deserves to go to jail. But the bigger story was shown on television last night with the big black limousine with Ryan and Larry Warner in the back and Big Jim…once a shining Sir Galahad federal prosecutor…riding in front. No possible inducement of friendship could convince Jim Thompson to ride with George Ryan except a history of as yet unknown involvements with George Ryan that holds him hostage: to the tune of over $20 million pro bono expenditure from his law firm. What they are no one will find out—if Jim Thompson has anything to say about it.

Rep. Jesse Jackson.

Rep. Jesse Jackson has signed up as a guest lecturer for my Roosevelt University course. He is a far more subtle figure than his minister-father and is a young man of considerable talent who, were he to choose to run for mayor and get elected, could be a remarkable mayor. That is not certain, of course, but he has the raw material to be a fine mayor. At any rate, as a member of the House Appropriations committee, the originator of a third airport at Peotone which relies on private, not public, financing, he is a definite plus to the Illinois delegation…and I welcome him to the course. That means we have former Senator Peter Fitzgerald…U. S. Congressman Jesse Jackson…U.S. Congressman Ray LaHood…Governor Blagojevich’s spokeswoman on management and budget, Becky Carroll…and State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock), chairman of an important House committee.

All of a sudden…you know what?...Jim Edgar’s availability has moved from certain (according to his aide) to much less likely than that. Do you suppose it has something to do with--? Naw.


  1. Mr. Roeser, your class tonight was first rate, a must for any person with political desire. Rep. Franks was a great guest speaker. You Classes are a must. Thank you.

  2. It's amazing that no one in the Chicago media has apparantly done any digging to find out the reason for Thompson's engineering the expenditure of some 20 million of his law firm's cash and a good part of their reputation on the Ryan case and for his very odd conduct at the sentencing, acting almost as if he had also been sentenced and convicted along with the other former Illinois governor. Apparantly the other hundred dollar hair cut ambulence chasers at Winston and Strawn weren't too thrilled with the whole exercise in Lasalle Street philanthropy and unexpected fanatic personal loyalty and caused Big Jim to step down as head of the least one can so speculate. If it is true that Thompson was visited by the ghost of Christmas Past in the guise of a Ryan minion, clanking his chains and threatening to reveal dark secrets if the full resources of Scrooge, Marley, Thompson, Winston and Strawn were not put at the disposal of the indicted one and then the Ghost of Christmas Future showed Big Jim a Christmas to come where a forgotten headstone is located in the Cemetary of the Disgraced among such Illinois worthies as that of Big Al and his favorite mayor, Big Bill (Thompson), if all that is true then one can imagine why the fairly stiff sentence would further rattle Big Jim as it puts Ryan under extreme temptation to do whatever he needs to to stay out of the slammer, including rolling over on his former crony Big Jim. One of the motivations for spending all that money was to avoid ending up in precisely this situation. Perhaps some Counselor will visit George in jail and tell him how the Romans dealt with this sort of situation and if that doesn't work he'll get a different sort of visitor.