Interview with Jane Byrne
QUESTION 8
JAMES A. DeVINNEY:

Tell us what you needed to, to get the support you needed.

JANYE BYRNE:

I would not have changed at all from the way I planned to be throughout that campaign and going into the mayor's office, excepting the timing for that became impossible for everyone. Ah, as an example. People think of The Machine, I'm afraid, and especially outsiders as just this Democratic party.

JAMES A. DeVINNEY:

Just a moment here.


JANYE BYRNE:

I think that most people think that the machine is just those fifty aldermen and the fifty committeemen. It is not, OK? The machine in Chicago was, for all practical purposes, the establishment of Chicago with its law firms, with its construction people, with its ah, ah, contractors, with bond council, with everything. They control it. And they really control it. It's decided right there on the fifth floor who this major corporation will use for their attorneys. It's all done that way. It was established that way for years. When all of a sudden this person comes along and whacks into that, and rips it apart for all practical purposes, they all felt they were on the wrong side. And they all got real scared because they all thought, oh, the mayor knows how to retaliate because that's the way it had always been. So within twenty-four hours of my victory my consultant, whose name is Don Rose, ah, ver--considered very, very liberal, considered by the machine radical, ah, called me and said, "There is the beginnings of an aura of instability because nobody has ever done this before. And they're all shaking out there. The city is because this cuts so deep into what had been established for sixty years." He said, "You're going to have to get back out and, and pull it together." It was not my thought to do that at all. And I was, don't forget, Daley trained.

JAMES A. DeVINNEY:

Let me just stop you, hold right at that point. We're just changing the roll here.




JAMES A. DeVINNEY:

OK--

JANYE BYRNE:

Well, that all of a sudden became the password--


JANYE BYRNE:

The feeling of instability immediately became the password. Now you must remember I'm not the mayor. I didn't do anything to anybody. I just won. And all of a sudden this most liberal consultant, the, the, the hatred of the Democratic party, Don Rose, my consultant, is saying to me, "You've got to pull it together. You've got to bring stability. You've got to meet with the chairman of the party." Well, to me, I--You know, this is a man that wouldn't ah, of given me the time of day the day before. And every inch of me wanted to say, "Look, I'm going on a vacation. I'm tired. Let them go some, you know, let them go." So I went to the meeting for the good of Chicago, as I was being told and pull it together. And the first breakfast meeting went fine. The second breakfast meeting consisting of ten more committeemen, where one was ah, everybody was eating and all of a sudden the door opened and Matt Biastat[SIC], committeeman came in. Very ethnic, very old-fashioned, very old school. I'm sitting there. I expect him to be courteous. He jumps up and down on the floor with his hands and his fists. "I will not break bread with this damn woman!" shouts he. He said, "She plans to give the city employees a union contract that's further going to break the machine. I won't talk to her. I won't sit here." Walked out and slammed the door. Well, everybody was a little embarrassed and around the table some of them laughed, at which time Congressman Daniel Rostenkowsky leaned forward in hi--in a very condescending manner and stated, "I don't know about that." He said, "I was at a prayer breakfast yesterday morning and with the President in the White House. And he said to me, 'Oh, Dan. What's going to happen to Chicago now?' He said, 'My God. You have a lot of work to do.'" And it was probably intimidation. But to me, I sat there and it was like, holy fright. All I did was win and now even the President's concerned about the new mayor of Chicago. That's how it is.

JAMES A. DeVINNEY:

Let's just stop down.


JANE BYRNE:

Because my blood was boiling. I had to sit with these jerks, you know, I don't think you realized they tried to get me yanked off the national committee, they were calling , I would go to their darn meetings--