Former Gov. Ryan's papers offer glimpse inside office

Monday, September 29, 2003

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Thousands of papers former Gov. George Ryan's administration handed over to the Illinois State Archives after he left office in January offer a look into his four years in office.

The documents are primarily briefing papers prepared for the governor before meetings and public appearances, The State Journal-Register in Springfield reported. They show the power of the governor and how that's recognized by politicians.

Take Sen. Wendell Jones. A few months after the Palatine Republican was quoted in a newspaper as questioning Ryan's chances of re-election and saying that some people might like to see him announce he wouldn't run, Jones wanted to meet with the governor.

"Specifically, Sen. Jones would like to come in and apologize for the comments he made regarding your re-election chances," read one memo. And while he was there, he wanted to ask about the Illinois FIRST projects in his district.

"Many of Sen. Jones projects have stalled in the governor's office and he would like to see those projects released," read the memo.

Jones got his meeting with Ryan.

"I said, 'Well, I guess I shouldn't say things like that,"' he told the newspaper.

Former Republican state Rep. Tim Johnson of Sidney was running in a congressional primary in 2000 when Ryan visited his district.

One briefing memo noted, "As you are aware, one of Rep. Johnson's opponents has raised Illinois FIRST as a campaign issue."

The newspaper says Ryan also was told to mention a previously announced sewer project to remind people how state money was being spent in their district.

Johnson was elected to Congress.

Not all the documents have to do with politicians.

Don't forget, be surprised

In one, Ryan was informed that he might not want to leave a luncheon early, since he was going to receive a "surprise" award at the end of it.

And, by the way, "you will need to act surprised by the announcement," reads the memo.

Other briefing papers offered advice to the governor and his wife about functions they were to attend.

When then first lady Lura Lynn Ryan was to attend a play in Chicago in November 2000, she was warned about the content.

"Note: The play does contain obscene language and mature content (murder, adultery)," it said.

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