Why George Ryan's Name Wasn't Allowed in This House
Byline: Chuck Goudie
We all touch other people's lives in ways we can't even imagine.
For example, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan doesn't realize how he influenced the life of a man named Garry Mentink of Addison.
And, says Mentink's family, his death.
"My father was a DuPage County sheriff's police officer for 33 years before he retired in 1988 - his final rank was sergeant," says Mentink's daughter Barb Sacheck.
Sacheck contacted me while the Ryan corruption trial was under way. I have been saving the story until the proceedings ended. Now that Ryan has been convicted, here it is.
"Let me start by saying we were forbidden to utter the name George Ryan in our house," says Sacheck. "If at one time or another, someone slipped and mentioned that name, screaming, shouting, and bellowing of words I refuse to repeat would ensue, followed by hours of 'better not talk to your father right now.'"
What could possibly have caused such rancor in her lawman father?
Mentink's family believes he was passed over for promotions multiple times because he would not help raise money for Ryan.
"He would take his captain's test year after year and usually rank first, second or third every time, yet he was always passed over for someone who was ranked No. 14, No. 23, etc. Why? Because he refused to raise money, sell tickets, solicit or whatever else it was being called that year - for George Ryan," Sacheck recalls.
A spokeswoman for the current DuPage County sheriff did not respond to requests for comment over the weekend.
Mentink was among thousands of government workers who were muscled for money over the years. Most handed over the cash as a personal cost of doing business. Kind of like gas money or a uniform.
During the trial we heard how Ryan enjoyed cash "gifts" from staff members at Christmastime, down to the lowly paid janitors and secretaries.
But Mentink was one of the countless men and women in Illinois expected to cough up campaign donations to Ryan, even though they didn't directly work for him. …