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Editorial: Illinois owes much to Ryan whistleblower Sonneveld

While working Gov. George Ryan’s inspector general’s office 1994 Russell Sonneveld made link between highway collisithleft six children dead bribery

While working in Gov. George Ryan’s inspector general’s office in 1994, Russell Sonneveld made the link between a highway collision that left six children dead and a bribery operation in a state driver’s license facility. Mr. Sonneveld died Tuesday.

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Updated: November 22, 2012 6:37AM



‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

So said Edmund Burke, the Irish statesman, and how true it is today. If only good men had done more, we would not be writing today about the failures of the Boy Scouts of America.

And it is because good men and women have stepped forward in recent years that politics and government in Illinois, for all our scoffing cynicism, are a measure cleaner today.

We are thinking here of Russell Sonneveld, of Orland Park, who died Tuesday. While working in Gov. George Ryan’s inspector general’s office in 1994, Sonneveld made the link between a highway collision that left six children dead and a bribery operation in a state driver’s license facility.

The six children of the Rev. Duane and Janet Willis were killed when their van struck a tail-light assembly that had fallen off the truck ahead of them. Sonneveld immediately suspected, rightly, that the truck driver had bribed a state worker to obtain his license.

That investigation, which Sonneveld and colleague Ed Hammer secretly passed along to the feds when Ryan’s men tried to block them, led to the governor’s downfall — a watershed of reform in Illinois.

May the good men and women keep stepping up.



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