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Prayers for Jane Byrne; METRA controversy
By RAY HANANIA
Southwest News-Herald Newspaper Friday, July 19, 2013
Jane Byrne became Chicago’s first woman mayor in 1979, but so many people today don’t even know who she is.
Recent news reports indicate she is having serious health problems. And it’s not fair that people don’t know who she is.
Byrne was the most controversial mayor I had covered as a Chicago City Hall reporter, and I covered all of them from Richard J. Daley through his son Richard M. Daley.
She started out as a reformer who defeated the Chicago Democratic Machine, campaigning against the “Cabal of Evil Men,” who she named as Aldermen Fred Roti, Ed Burke and Ed Vrdolyak.
Byrne was right about Vrdolyak, but it didn’t take her more than a few months before she dumped her ally, Richard M. Daley and his aldermanic allies, including Alderman Bill Lipinski and Marty Oberman.
Fast talker Vrdolyak convinced Byrne that all he wanted was money and power, but that Daley wanted her job. And that’s what started the Byrne-Daley feud.
When Richie Daley finally stumbled into the job of mayor — the Daley’s have a hard time getting power, but once they do, they cling to it forever — his hatred of Byrne never subsided.
Of course, Byrne did the same to Mike Bilandic, one of the nicest Mayor’s Chicago ever had — not the most efficient, though.
Still, Chicago deserves to remember the Byrne legacy. The controversies and the conflicts, and the many achievements including reshaping the Democratic Machine, taking the dead Navy Pier and turning into a showplace, and bringing an array of festivals to the city that helped give the city life. She also put a focus on neighborhoods, which was unique, and opened the doors to new faces and personalities.
Yes, she was a contentious mayor. But she was a good person. She deserves the recognition for what she accomplished in her brief four years in office.
Before outgoing METRA CEO Alex Clifford starts pointing fingers at others, he should justify his outrageous $718,000 buy-out. What an outrageous waste of taxpayer money!
METRA, under Clifford’s leadership, and especially under the leadership of his predecessors, was a (excuse the ugly pun) train-wreck of financial waste. His buyout only reinforces that image.
Thankfully, METRA hired Brad O’Halloran as its new METRA Chairman and he’s doing a great job.
Clifford claims METRA suddenly has become a patronage haven. Really? METRA has been a political patronage haven for years but when it suited Clifford and his pals, he said nothing.
Clifford and his cronies don’t care about METRA. They care about money and clout.
The public should ignore the loudmouths attacking METRA and help the agency refocus on what’s best for the commuters and the taxpayers, people Clifford has ignored. If you care about METRA, Clifford, give the $718,000 back!
Kirk Dillard would have become Governor had he won the Republican primary. Many Democratic voters in Illinois would have supported his candidacy over the spineless phony, Gov. Pat Quinn.
Quinn didn’t win in 2010 because he was a good candidate. He won because Bill Brady was a weak Republican candidate and too conservative.
Quinn’s decision to withhold the salaries of legislators until they pass a pension bill is purely political, intended to trick voters into thinking the governor is on their side. It’s a political move. Illinois is in last place for a reason called Quinn, a word synonymous with “failed leadership.”
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. You may reach him at http://www.TheMediaOasis.com and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/RayHanania.) — City & Suburban News-Herald
- Bill Daley Could Be A Great Governor (rayhanania.com)
- Chris Robling and the usual slop from an Illinois Review writer (rayhanania.com)
- Pension Reform And Then There’s Illinois (rayhanania.com)
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Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com