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See Jane Prevaricate


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To the editors:

As a reporter, I ceased a long time ago to be surprised by the many inconsistencies I often find in the stories politicians tell me. I've learned to oversee, or perhaps more accurately, understand their exaggerations. I've pretty much accepted their behavior as being almost inherent in that greatest of the arts.

Moreover, I have even learned to be tolerant when they twist and warp the truth, or when they tailor it to fit their agendas. What's more, I have even learned to oversee some of their peccadillos, when these are not of vital concern to the community.

There is, however, one thing that very much disturbs me. And that is when a politician blatantly distorts the truth--in such a widely circulated publication as yours--assuming that no one is out there holding her accountable for every word she utters.

I speak here, namely, of what Former Mayor Jane Byrne said at the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization meeting that Achy Obejas reported on in your February 19 issue of the Reader [Our Town]. In that article, Byrne said a series of falsehoods that should be pointed out for the record.

First, Byrne stated that she stood "on her record" regarding gay rights. According to my interview with her (published in three Extra Publications' papers: the Northwest Extra, the Logan Square Extra and the Wicker Park/West Town Extra on Feb. 18, 1987), Byrne said that the gay rights ordinance was "ill-planned, ill-timed and ill-conceived. And for as long as there is no consensus--and that is amongst the church groups, be it the Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, ethnic groups--from across the city that there be such an ordinance, I could never support such an ordinance." Further she stated that her church (Catholic) had spoken on the gay rights issue: "Well, I believe now as a member of my church, my religion has spoken out on it. And they've spoken out against it . . .". When asked specifically about whether she would go ahead and march in the gay parade now that the Church has spoken on the gay rights issue, Ms. Byrne stated: "I would check with my confessor as to what their position is . . .".

Secondly, when someone questioned her support of gay rights by mentioning the things she said in the interview which he had read in the Logan Square Extra--specifically, Byrne's reference to having to talk to her confessor--Byrne denied ever having been interviewed by our newspaper. Byrne's campaign manager then added insult to injury by stating: "That story in the Extra, that was a last-minute smear in the last campaign . . . It's amazing how often it gets told; it just isn't true."

On behalf of Extra Publications and myself, I would like to point out a few facts:

(1) Jane Byrne was interviewed, not by a single reporter, but by an entourage which consisted of five people: Myself; EXTRA Publications Managing Editor Mary Montgomery; Assistant Editor Roland Cardona; and Clemente Community Academy Journalism Department students Eddie Rivera and Cinthia Scott (Mr. Rivera and Ms. Scott were along as part of an adopt-a-school program which the Extra is involved in at Clemente). Ms. Byrne is making a very serious charge. She's calling all five of us liars. Enclosed you will find a photo taken by Mary Montgomery of Byrne with myself, Roland Cardona, Eddie Rivera and Cinthia Scott, plus one of her being interviewed by myself with a copy of the Extra on her desk--Either we did the interview or we have some pretty talented trick photographers on our staff, eh?

(2) The Byrne interview appeared along with a similar interview with the late Mayor Harold Washington. A reading of that interview reveals that the questions on gay rights were just as forceful, if not more so.

(3) Ms. Byrne must really have a bad memory. Not only does she not remember being interviewed by EXTRA Publications last year, she doesn't, apparently remember that on July 14, 1982, as Mayor of the City of Chicago, Byrne conducted an in depth interview in her offices on the fifth floor of City Hall with EXTRA Publications Managing Editor Mary Montgomery and Publisher Mila Tellez. This interview appeared in our July 22, 1982, editions under the headline: "Exclusive interview with Mayor Jane Byrne." According to Byrne's press office at the time, we were the first Hispanic publication (we're bilingual; all articles appear in both Spanish and English) that had obtained an in-depth, one on one interview with Mayor Byrne.

The above facts speak for themselves. Suffice it to say that Byrne's statements are irresponsible and reprehensible, particularly in light of the fact that she is in essence accusing us of fabricating the interview I conducted with her and which ran adjacent to my interview with Mayor Harold Washington. Such brazenness, emanating from someone running for an important public office, should not go without notice.

Also, she cannot claim she forgot about our interview or the things she said. As Pecor said: "It's amazing how often it (the quotes from the interview) get told." Also, she would have a very difficult time trying to convince anyone that she forgot that she interviewed with the Midwest's highest circulated Hispanic-oriented newspaper.

To substantiate all of the above, I have included for you a copy of the Logan Square Extra which contains my interview with Byrne; as well as a copy of Byrne's first interview with the Extra which appeared on July 22, 1982. I have also included the above mentioned photographs. A copy of the now infamous tape, by the way, is available on request.

Jorge Montes


EXTRA Publications

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