Sneed: George Ryan creates death penalty abolition group

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The Ryan report . . .

Former Gov. George Ryan, who declared a statewide moratorium on executions in 2000, is honing his death penalty ax once again.

• Translation: Sneed is told Ryan, whose moratorium laid the groundwork for ending the death penalty in Illinois during Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration, has formed a not-for-profit organization called Abolition Now to battle executions nationwide.

“I was falsely accused by critics years ago of using my fight against the death penalty to divert attention away from the federal investigation against me,” said Ryan, who was released from federal prison in 2013 after serving more than five years for corruption.

“Life is what gets thrown at you. You just have to deal with it and move on,” he added.

“But I always planned to fight the death penalty, and we just got tax-exemption approval from the state for Abolition Now, which will help create policy to end executions,” he said. “We are now awaiting federal approval.”

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Ryan, who addressed Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty in St. Louis, Mo., last month, tells Sneed: “Former Gov. Jim Thompson and Rob Warden, the former executive director of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, is on board — as well as Jennifer Linzer,” said Ryan, who tells Sneed he plans to address the Florida Public Defender Association in September.

Meanwhile, Ryan — who was released from federal prison in July 2013 — spent the Fourth of July holiday with 30 members of his family in Springfield.

“I am now a great-grandfather and spend a lot of time with my family; have got my house in Kankakee in fairly good shape and am almost done with my book, which is a biography of sorts — but deals primarily with my time in office and my trial,” he said.

“Life is good,” he said. “But it should also be fair.”

The Byrne beat . . .

Going nowhere?

Plans to turn a Water Tower park into a memorial in honor of late Mayor Jane Byrne, our town’s only female mayor, seem to be on hold.

“I’ve heard absolutely nothing,” said Byrne’s only child, attorney Kathy Byrne, who has been waiting for something to happen since City Council approval last July.

“I know the mayor has a lot on his plate, but . . .”

Love is . . . Dead?

Pop stars Katy Perry and John Mayer – are they back on?

The singers, who have been dating on and off for a few years, not only hit town this weekend for the Grateful Dead farewell concert, but were spotted in the pit front and center dancing with the rest of the Deadheads. After the concert Saturday, they headed to Gibsons on Rush for a date night.

Obama drama . . .

President Obama en famille are heading back to Martha’s Vineyard for their yearly summer vacation.

• Backshot: But they will not be renting the house they stayed at in 2013, owned by Chicago investment banker David Schulte— which hit the market last week for $22.5 million.

• Buckshot: The Obamas were interested in renting it again in 2014, but Schulte, who is a huge Obama supporter, told the Vineyard Gazette he declined.

He’s a kook!

SpottedSundayafternoon walking down Dearborn in the Loop with ascruffy beard: Woody “White Men Can’t Jump” Harrelsonwearing a T-shirt that read, “The hippies were right.”

Bono buzz . . .

Bono, whowas in town for U2′s “iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE” tour, was spotted dancing the night away Friday atPunch House, the barin the basement of Pilsen’s historic Thalia Hall. Bono and his friends enjoyed food, drinks and merriment until 4 a.m. (two hours past the bar’s typical closing time).

Sneedlings . . .

Wednesday’s birthdays: Kevin Bacon, 57; Anjelica Huston, 64, and Wolfgang Puck, 66.

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