Chicago's feisty mayor, Jane. M. Byrne, has plunged into another major battle -- just one year after being elected with an unprecedented 82.5 percent of the vote. This time the heat has been generated by serious allegations from demoted members of the Chicago Police Department that the Byrne administration has been acting to protect organized crime, Monitor correspondent Jonathan Harsh reports.
In a series of front-page articles April 20, the Chicago Tribune quoted extensively from three top police officers demoted last week in a major police shuffle. Tribune columnist Bob Wiedrich wrote:
"Former acting police Supt. Joseph DiLeonardi charged Saturday that two of Mayor Byrne's top aides were fronting for the mob when they demanded the ouster of the Chicago Police Department's foremost organized crime fighter. . . . DiLeonardi said [aide William] Griffin told him he was acting at the behest of John D'Arco, committeeman of the hoodlum-dominated First Ward Democratic organization and longtime associate of top mobsters."
The Tribune articles go on to give a series of names, dates, and places linking the Byrne administration with repeated attempts to scale down police operations directed at organized crime's gambling and vice activities in "the city that works."
In a typically low-key response Mayor Byrne has dismissed the allegations as "the ramblings of a very bitter, transferred person."