Feb. 27, 1999

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"Forgive but Never Forget"
A Former City Hall Reporter Remembers Jane Byrne's Turbulent Administration, 20 Years Later

In 3 Parts

Visit Radio Chicagoland broadcast Mon-Fri at 8 am on WJJG 1530 AM Radio and online


By Ray Hanania

This special series returns us back to the tumultuous days of the administration of fiery Mayor Jane M. Byrne, who served as Chicago mayor from April 1979 through April 1983.

Byrne brought excitement, controversy and new life to Chicago's dormant city political system. The powerful Chicago Machine was controlled by Mayor Michael A. Bilandic, a protégé of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley who died in December 1977.

With Bilandic's rise came tranquility. But with Byrne came a new era of news reporting and news making. Suddenly the line between reporters and news became blurred and oftentimes, reporters themselves would become news.

Today, many reporters and pundits often lament at how "boring" and "unexciting" Chicago politics is under the administration of the late Mayor Daley's son, Richie Daley whose original bid for mayor in 1983 helped elect Chicago's first Black Mayor Harold Washington. He was later to return after Washington's death to unseat Washington's kindly but politically feeble successor, Mayor Eugene Sawyer.

I covered the Late Mayor Daley, Byrne, Washington, Sawyer and Richie Daley, from 1978 until 1992 as a City Hall reporter, first for the Daily Southtown Economist Newspapers (77-85) and later for the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-92).

But those who long for the old days of excitement and controversy should recall and ask, excitement? At what price? And, is the price too high?

I hope you enjoy this three part series reflecting back on the administration of Jane M. Byrne and those "exciting" days of news reporting.

(Ray Hanania covered City Hall from 1977 until 1992 and is currently a political columnist with the Southwest News-Herald Newspaper, Des Plaines Valley News and the Regional News/Palos Reporter newspapers. Hanania is also a syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate and managing editor of two websites, The Arab Daily News www.TheArabDailyNews.com and Illinois News Network www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com.

The winner of four Society of Professional journalism Lisagor Awards, Hanania was named Best Ethnic American Columnist in America by the New America Media, and recipient of the Sigma Delta Chi Award for writing in 2009. Currently he is President and CEO of Urban Strategies Group media consulting www.UrbanStrategiesGroup.com. Reach him at RGHanania@GMAIL.com.)


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