Thursday, September 21, 2006

Personal Asides: Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke Joins Roosevelt U List…Along with Multi-Millionaire Inventor Jack Roeser…At Roosevelt and Later on WLS: Stone and Canary.

Anne Marie Burke.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Marie Burke will discuss the legal system and the courts with my Roosevelt University class. Justice Burke is the third woman to serve on the state’s high court. A bartender’s daughter, she began her working career as a Park District employee and noted that the playgrounds were not hospitable to retarded children. She conceived the idea of a Special Olympics and joined with Eunice Kennedy Shriver to make the idea a national event. At the age of 40, as the mother of four, she enrolled in law school. Once she was admitted to the bar, she opened a neighborhood law center dealing with family law on the southwest side. Always interested in juvenile law, she became a special assistant to Governor Jim Edgar, dealing with problems attendant to the state’s program for children and family services.

She was named an Appellate Court Justice and in that capacity filled an unusual position—interim chairman of the National Review Board for the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, an independent board that probed the priestly pedophilia scandal in the Catholic church. Showing independence as head of the Board, she and attorney Robert Bennett flew to Rome to share their findings with then Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, later to become Benedict XVI. The findings and recommendations of the Board laid out a thorough program for the bishops to rectify past scandals and chart a new course. Whether the programs have been implemented is another question. Needless to say, after having interviewed Justice Burke extensively for a series of newspaper articles, I’m delighted she has agreed to guest lecture. She will speak on October 12 at 6 p.m.

Jack Roeser (No Relation).

Republicans are divided on Jack Roeser—some love him and are prepared to follow him anywhere, others call him an obstructionist and ethics martinet…but no one has ever said that Roeser, a reformer (and not related to me) hasn’t put his money where his mouth is on the issue of supporting clear-cut candidates and programs which he hopes will rebuild the Illinois Republican party. Few know that the self-made multi-millionaire 82-year-old Carpentersville manufacturer and philanthropist…athletic and trim who pilots his own sailing craft and who on a few years ago won the grueling Mackinac sailing race from Chicago to Mackinac Island…is an engineering genius whose inventions have made jet plane flying safer and built thousands of jobs over the years for those who serve in his modern manufacturing plants and in the surrounding area. With personal wealth estimated conservatively at more than $100 million, he has poured rehabilitative funds into Carpentersville, restoring historic buildings and has ventured into Chicago’s inner city to supply financial and human resources to St. Elizabeth’s elementary school which was in dire need of such help.

A doughty social conservative, Roeser has headed a program to push vouchers in education. Dismayed by the venal “Combine” that links Democrats and Republicans in common cause to lobby and make money from politics in Illinois, he ran for governor in a challenge to incumbent Jim Edgar. He was a vigorous critic of George Ryan since long before the notoriety from scandals that convicted the ex-governor. As head of the grassroots movement Family Taxpayers, Roeser backs the removal of the GOP’s national committeeman (and national party treasurer) Bob Kjellander. Roeser’s topics will involve business’ social responsibility to improve the tone and efficiency of government as well as his initiative in launching a grassroots movement for political reform. He will speak on November 30 at 7 p.m.

At Roosevelt this Thursday: Stone and Canary.

On WLS this Sunday: Stone and Canary.

Guests at Roosevelt tonight in separate lectures and on “Political Shootout” this Sunday in joint appearances will be the Odd Couple. They are: Alderman Bernie Stone (50th), a good friend, chairman of the city council Building Committee and a man who years ago called Luis Gutierrez a “pipsqueak” which said it better than anyone elese…and Cynthia (Cindy) Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a statewide non-partisan education and advocacy project. I don’t regard Bernie Stone as a reformer but basically a hard-working, practical politician who doesn’t stint on his own time spent helping the city and his constituents. He also has a priceless ingredient for his business: a good sense of humor and a workaday command of language that is true Chicago-ese. I have never met Ms. Canary but will when the two speak, at different hours, at my Roosevelt.

As you know, any ex-leader of the LWV is automatically a friend of mine! And I’m told by Dr. Paul Green, her admirer, that the lady can take good care of herself. I only wish he had said that about me.

Ms. Canary was executive director of the League of Women Voters which tells you that she is indubitably a liberal. She is much interested in campaign finance reform and has interesting recommendations on that issue. She helped lead the League’s National Voter Registration Act in this state. She has also worked in the public education section of the American Bar Association (another liberal outfit) but comes highly recommended as an true reformer by many sources. The “Chicago Tribune” referred to her as “the state’s most vocal adsvocafte for good government.” She received her B.A. in political science from Hampton college and did graduate work at Georgetown University. She and her artist husband, Adam Brooks, have a 16-year-old son, Tyler. Her organization’s website has a lot of valuable information about the financing of all Illinois campaigns. I am just assuming Bernie, a realist, will not be as enthusiastic about campaign reform as she—but we’ll find out.

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