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Gov. Quinn gives the gift of clemency to 179 people

The gift of clemency . . .

Gov. Pat Quinn granted a Christmas Eve clemency to 179 people hoping for a second chance at life.

Not included in the cases acted upon on Wednesday are Gordon “Randy” Steidl, who served 17 years for a double murder only to be freed in 2004 after new evidence came to light — and Willie Johnson, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison earlier this year for recanting his testimony about a 1992 double murder.


Twenty-three former prosecutors and judges, including former Gov. Jim Thompson, sent a letter to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez in April, saying that Johnson’s prosecution could prevent people who regret their false testimony from coming forward.

Sneed is told that Quinn, who also denied 425 clemency petitions, did grant clemency to Tracy Dooley, 47, a mother of two and a grandmother of six — giving her the legal right to erase the burden holding her back: a criminal history.

Clemency provides gubernatorial permission to pursue the expungement of past crimes.

Dooley, who has been working as a minimum-wage caretaker, wept while telling Sneed her story Wednesday.

“Governor Quinn made my life today,” Dooley said.

“My possession of drugs conviction years ago was holding a career back. I’ve been a caretaker all my life . . . that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. But there was no way I was going to be able to start my own business without clemency.

“He has just opened so many doors, I can’t explain it. With this clemency, I can build an even better life for myself. I don’t want to live under the minimum wage, and now everything’s going to be all right. Governor Quinn changed my life today. I hope that if other people see that I could do it, they’ll know they can do it too.

“I have wanted this for so long, and my petition to move on with my life and a career was never acted on by three former governors,” said Dooley, who grew up in Englewood, where a house fire took the lives of her two younger siblings when she was only 4 years old.

She later lost her father to gun violence; her brother was shot and paralyzed. Charged with possession of drugs when she was in her 20s, Dooley say it was a special woman and her minister who encouraged her to secure a degree from Everest College and build a better life.

Since taking office, Quinn has acted on 3,962 clemency petitions; granting 1,418 and denying 2,544.

The governor has over 2,000 petitions waiting his final decision when his term in office ends on Jan. 12.

The eraser set . . .

Ay! Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown must be fuming.

Translation: Sneed hears Brown’s minions have been scrambling to recover copies already distributed of their heavy-duty, ledger-sized calendars, which are very popular at county courthouses “even in this electronic age,” a Sneed source said.

The reason: The calendars, which were printed late this year and are in high demand, contained a big error.

A mucho grande mistake.

It had the wrong date for Cinco de Mayo, the anniversary of the Mexican military victory at Puebla over Napoleon III’s French forces in 1862 — which is celebrated as a national holiday in Mexico. Instead of using the correct date of May 5, the calendar placed the holiday on May 4.

Sneedlings . . .

Thursday’s birthdays: Annie Lennox, 60; Jimmy Buffett, 68, and Bill Zwecker, ageless and priceless.