Cheap Seats Online 2015 Part B
Judge Jay - 12/30/15
By Rich Trzupek
Almost eight years ago, I got remarried, first in a secular ceremony, then – once both of our annulments had cleared – in the Catholic Church. For that initial ceremony, I asked someone who as something more than an acquaintance, although – at that time – not fully a friend, to preside at the ceremony: Judge Jay Crane.
The day after that initial ceremony, my bride Cheryl and I were at O’Hare, getting ready to board a flight to L.A., where we embark on a honeymoon cruise. We had not gone through security when my phone rang. It was Jay, calling to inform me that he had neglected to have Cheryl and I sign the marriage license and that if we failed to do so, our nuptials would not count. (Signing after we returned from our honeymoon would have been too late for the marriage to be legal).
Jay offered to drive over to the airport so Cheryl and I could sign the license before we left. Would the timing work? Just barely, as it turned out. But it would. Jay rushed over to the airport, Cheryl and I signed the document and we headed off on our honeymoon.
I share this personal story to give you some small idea about the sort of fellow Jay Crane is. He could have easily let the formalities of signing the license go, saving the solution until we returned when he could re-marry us and get the legit signatures.
But that’s not Jay. He screwed up and he would fix it. There was no other way. That’s the kind of guy Jay Crane is.
I got to know Jay because he was the former village attorney for Streamwood and I covered Streamwood municipal issues for many years as the lead beat reporter for the Mighty Examiner in the village. By the time I started covering Streamwood, Jay had moved up to be a Cook County judge, but his presence still radiated throughout Village Hall.
Crane was village attorney during the worst of the town’s cowboy years, when corrupt Village Managers and inept Village Presidents combined to sully Streamwood’s reputation and poison some future prospects. Jay, Billie Roth and a few courageous Trustees would eventually turn things around before he decided to run for judge in 1996.
If I had to describe Jay, which I hope I will never have to do after this, I would say that he’s an old-school Democrat in Republican clothing.
Jay is a liberal in the Kennedy/Gladstone sense of the word, as opposed to the modern Hillary/Obama definition. Jay believed, and I think still believes, that government has an obligation to do whatever it can to help the disenfranchised and disadvantaged find their way to prosperity. That’s a different sort of liberalism from the modern Democrat ideal that preaches that government is obligated to ensure that the disenfranchised and disadvantage are assured prosperity.. The first is about opportunity. The latter is about entitlement.
As a moderate Republican judge, Jay walked the line between government intrusiveness and personal privacy about as well as anyone this side of Solomon can.
Jay Crane retires his position of judge this week. He is one of a dying breed: a jurist who puts principle before pride and party. His sage wisdom will be missed in Cook County. It’s only a shame that so few residents of that once-proud county will understand that.