Byrne ditches patronage plan

In a swift response to her city's virtually unanimous outrage by editorials, polls, and civic condemnation, Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne has flip-flopped once again -- this time on the city council's Jan. 13 vote abolishing merit hiring for city jobs -- according to Monitor correspondent Jonathan Harsch.

While Mayor Byrne spent last week denying charges that the vote would rebuilt the city's Democratic Party patronage system, she both surprised and pleased her critics by kicking off this week with a neat one- liner: "I have vetoed the ordinance passed by the City Council on Jan. 13 abolishing the city personnel code."

Few, however, give Mayor Byrne credit for her reversal. "I think that it shows the mayor has been consistently inconsistent," commented Michael Sheahan, one the aldermen who opposed the ordinance. "It's another example of her fickleness."

The various civic groups that led protests against the council action claim credit. Some say the mayor relented when threatened with a public referendum, while others feel she backed down at the possible loss of some $200 million in federal funds. But most simply conclude that Jane Byrne is a politician who first wanted to garner votes through restoring patronage jobs -- and then backed down when the move appeared to be losing more votes than it could possibly gain.

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