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Walter’s Perspective: Leave George Ryan Be

Former Illinois Governor George Ryan speaks to the news media at the federal courthouse following a verdict of guilty on all counts in his corruption trial April 17, 2006  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former Illinois Governor George Ryan speaks to the news media at the federal courthouse following a verdict of guilty on all counts in his corruption trial April 17, 2006 (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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(CBS) — Like many reporters, I’m thinking about George Ryan, and on the Red Line this morning I talked with fellow riders about him.

Between Clark and Division and Lake Street, and in the station at Lake, I asked 11 people: Do you think George Ryan has paid enough of a price for his crimes of racketeering and fraud? Now that he has served his time, and his life must go forward, should we leave him alone, stop following him around?

Of the 11 people, nine said yes, leave him alone. Eight of the nine said they believe he was corrupt, but no more so than other politicians who are not serving time.

Do you feel sorry for George-Ryan? I asked. Seven of the nine said yes, they do, that he has suffered enough. They knew he’s about 80 years old, and that his wife died while he was in prison. You reporters, they said to me, don’t wreck the rest of his life.

I think George Ryan wrecked his own life, but you know, maybe there was some wisdom on the Red Line this morning.