Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Saint Father Smyth

The media continues to drop the ball on this one. But then again, they pretty much drop the ball on everything. For those of you who aren’t aware of this story, Father Smyth is the head of Maryville Academy, a child services organization run by the Archdiocese of Chicago. Now the governor has decided to close down the main Maryville campus because of rapes, drug abuse and attempted suicides. You would think we could all get behind the governor making sure these children are removed from this dangerous place. But you would be wrong!

Father Smyth obviously is a very powerful figure in Chicago and has used this power in some very despicable ways. First he accused Gov. Blago of not caring for these children they way he cares for his own children. Why else would the guv send his daughter to a private school in Chicago rather than a public school in Springfield. Now, I’m not sure what the governor’s daughter has to do with this situation, but the fact Father Smyth dragged her into this is pathetic.

But the big hit job came yesterday. Michael Sneed is our local gossip hound and probably the dullest in the nation. In her column yesterday she “passed along” a rumor that the Governor wants to close down Maryville so Cardinal George can sell the campus to pay off defendants in the priest sexual abuse lawsuits. Wow, that’s some crazy conspiracy - but where’s the evidence? Of course there is none. It’s just an outrageous slander. What kind of journalistic prostitute would write this stuff.

And Father Smyth must know where all the bones are buried because there is no end of politicians willing to defend him. Mayor Daley is said to be furious. Public Guardian Patrick Murphy says that Father Smyth loves children so much he took too many in and that caused all the problems. OK, pop quiz. Do you think Father Smyth took in too may kids because A.) he loves them so much or B.) he receives state aid for every kid in the facility. Hell, every new kid is money in the bank for Maryville as the fixed costs of running the place are much greater than the added costs of taking in one more kid.

But the best line came from former Illinois Department of Children and Family Services chief Greg Coler, who said, "This whole thing is a crime. The children should not be removed from Maryville, which is like shipping a kid from the Four Seasons hotel to a Motel 6.” I’ve never stayed at a Four Seasons, but if rape, drug abuse and suicides are rampant there, maybe it should be closed down too.