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Those Were the Days

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Dear editor,

Two comments on the May 5 cover story on City Hall and public information:

One, the centralizing of information in the mayor's press office is nothing new. It was done in the Byrne administration, and there were versions of it in the Bilandic and Richard J. Daley administrations. That the centralizing occurs at all probably is due to the accountability that is forced on the mayor by the news media, community groups and other members of the public.

Two, the Byrne administration was as "open" as any of its successors, if not more so. Jane Byrne trailblazed for Mayors Washington, Sawyer and Richard M. Daley in this respect. Her election as mayor brought unprecedented local, national and international news coverage, which continued throughout her term of office. As many reporters of that era can attest, Mayor Byrne at times was too accessible. Her personal accessibility carried over into the city bureaucracy (for example, her budgets were hailed for their detail and planning). The process was not perfect, but it was a start.

Bob Saigh

Former deputy press secretary for Mayor Jane Byrne

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