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Toni Preckwinkle’s Chief of Staff G.A. Finch is leaving his post: Sneed

Jane Byrne campaigns shopping CTR.

Jane Byrne campaigns shopping CTR.

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Updated: November 7, 2013 6:44AM



The big sweep?

Is Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in the process of cleaning house?

Sneed hears her chief of staff, G.A. Finch, is leaving. His last day is Nov. 1.

“Let’s put it this way, he wasn’t very effective,” said a Sneed source.

Is this the beginning of some dusting and cleaning in Preckwinkle’s office?

Stay tuned.

The Byrne beat. . .

Sneed hears rumbles a move may be afoot to create a lasting city memorial to Jane Byrne, who is the only woman in the history of Chicago to be elected mayor.

Smart. Sassy. Impossible. Unpredictable. . . and married to a rascally former City Hall reporter named Jay McMullen, Byrne had once been a favored member of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s cabinet.

She also snatched the mayoral mantle due to an infamous snowfall that nearly swallowed Chicago in the late 1970s.

Sadly, the only physical evidence of Byrne’s brief term in office at City Hall is her photo and a Children’s Fountain in a Chicago park — which was removed from its major perch on Upper Wacker Drive during Mayor Rich M. Daley’s administration — and years later, moved to Lincoln Park.

Byrne suffers from multiple ailments, and had a stroke in January.

“It’s sad and unfortunate,” said a Sneed source who is close to the Byrne family. “Byrne, who is now seriously ill, is part of the city’s history.

“Her memory shouldn’t be forgotten. She was totally ignored during the [Harold] Washington and Daley administrations,” he said.

(Please note: Sneed was once Byrne’s press secretary, for approximately five of the most miserable but politically stimulating months in 1979-80.)

◆ Ironically: “A park is now being named after the city’s former first lady Maggie Daley, who should be honored,” said another source. “But to ignore Mayor Jane Byrne is tragic.”

Word is Mayor Rahm Emanuel has yet to be contacted about the memorial plan.

The Pipsqueak factor. . .

Ai! Ai! Ai! Mama miaaa!

Back in the day, the City Council was awash in colorful characters.

◆ Example: Best buddies Ald. Fred Roti, who represented the 1st Ward, and Ald. Berny Stone (who represented the 50th Ward) come to mind.

◆ Backshot: The duo ate together, traveled together, hung out together.

◆ Buckshot: Fred is now dead. . . but Berny is still his pal. And he’s smokin’ hot about what he claims to be a “defamatory” reference to Roti in U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez’ new book, “Still Dreaming.”

◆ Potshot: “That little pipsqueak claims Fred came up to him after a contentious City Council meeting and made a crack like he was a mobster, stating, ‘Ward boundaries change. They come and go. But one thing that never changes about the 1st Ward — it always has the Chicago River,’ is a complete fabrication,” Stone said.

◆ Potshot II: “Luis was a little pipsqueak then, and he is still a pipsqueak. I was with Freddie after that City Council meeting and it didn’t happen. It’s a classic wait until someone is dead so they can’t defend themselves move.”

Over and out, Luis.

The Fergie file. . .

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, may have a way of messing things up big time in the past, but her sensational divorce from England’s Prince Andrew in 1996 is shockingly amicable.

◆ Translation: They still sound like a happily married couple.

Years ago, even after their divorce, Fergie kept calling Andrew “my husband” during an interview with Sneed.

Recently, she told the audience at a children’s literature festival in England she and her ex have remained close friends, and stated: “He’s still my handsome prince, he’ll always be my handsome prince. It’s lovely that we are such a family and the story has a happy ending all the time.”

Other than the fact the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip — and Andrew’s father, would have a heart attack if they remarried, it is surprising they haven’t. Eh, what?

Sneedlings. . .

Saturday’s birthdays: Kate Winslet, 38; Jesse Eisenberg, 30, and Rocky Wirtz, priceless. Sunday’s birthdays: Britt Ekland, 71; Olivia Thirlby, 27, and Matthew Sweet, 49.



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