Friday, December 5, 2008

Letters: Jane Byrne's coat was Not tattered

Jane Byrne's daughter Kathy sent me a very nice email pointing out that the coat her mother wore when I first saw her in 1978 was "not" tattered. She might be right. It was 30 years ago. She was responding to my column remembering Jane Byrne, 30 years later.

Jane Byrne was a "tough" mayor. Sometimes, too tough. But, she was our mayor. And it is unfortunate that she has not been remembered for some of the good things she has done. Sure, as a reporter often at the end of her conflicts, she came across vindictive and even tough. But, as I've pointed out many times, she was not that unusual as politicians go, except that she showed her feelings in the public while our current Mayor Rich Daley is actually MORE vindictive than she was and more vicious. The difference is he hides his viciousness while Byrne celebrated it in public. Daley does the same things Byrne was criticized for and sometimes gets away with it. Not from all the media, but from the public. Like with Byrne, the media is critical. That's the nature of the beast. A reporter and a columnist can never really be a "friend" of a politician, even though the relations can be cordial or cold.

Byrne did many good things. There was controversy. She is a major part of Chicago's history but she has not been given the recognition she deserves. Navy Pier and Taste of Chicago really would not be what they are today, had it not been for her. And Navy Pier is a major city asset.

Anyway, I hope Mayor Jane Byrne has a great Holiday and Christmas. And I hope that one day the city will recognize her role in shaping this city, controversies and headlines and even columns aside. She should have been treated better than she has been by the Daley administration and accorded a high profile public role in city events.

But then again, little Richie is not his father, a towering figure of decency. Richie Daley is a mean, vindictive hypocrite who cries about all his problems and then quietly abuses his power. So why is he better than Jane Byrne? He's not.

-- Ray Hanania

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