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Holy water, angry protesters citing Jesus and the third airport

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012

* Congressman Jesse Jckson, Jr. held a “symbolic” groundbreaking ceremony over the weekend for the third Chicago airport

“We have found … developers who are willing to put up $700 million of their own dollars and backed by a guarantee from the government of Canada,” Jackson said in remarks broadcast by WBBM Radio. “And they want to be on this land by June 1 of this year. … Together, we can and we will build our future.”

* Apparently, the festivities got a bit weird

With gospel music blaring and angry picketers shouting, pastors prayed, preached and sprinkled holy water over the site of the proposed airport near Peotone on Saturday morning. […]

Things got a bit dicier Saturday when Jackson and his supporters traveled out to a country road that lies in the footprint of the proposed airport.

There, Jackson and a group of pastors stood on a flatbed trailer, spoke, prayed and sprinkled holy water on the ground. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held on the shoulder of the road.

A smaller group representing those opposed to the airport were there, too, carrying signs such as “Caution Snakes,” “Jackson Lies, Crops Die” and “Make Food, Not Pollution.”

The group stood in a field behind Jackson’s flatbed trailer holding the signs, shouting “Liar” and “Jesus wouldn’t do this to us” while he and others spoke.

Their shouts were largely muffled by the gospel music and speaker system on the trailer. Police and members of Jackson’s entourage attempted to keep the groups separate.

* But opposition to the third airport comes from far higher up the political and economic food chain than a few protesters

This past week, Jeff Smisek, CEO of United Airlines parent company, United Continental Holdings Inc., said a third airport in Chicago would bring the city more harm than good and that there’s no demand for a new airport. Meanwhile, Emanuel has proposed expanding O’Hare International airport, saying it would be like adding a third airport without actually building a new one.

* And there’s more trouble for SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., which would fund the site’s construction

Earlier this year, the firm caught flak for its dealings with the deposed Gadhafi clan in Libya. Then a couple of weeks ago, SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime abruptly resigned amid an internal probe of what the company said were $56 million in inappropriate payments to undisclosed agents.

Neither the firm nor the agents have said who those agents were. But there’s been lots of speculation in the Canadian media.

Chicago-area coverage has been minimal. But you can bet your runway that it’s been noticed in Mr. Quinn’s office, which now has a nice cudgel with which to beat back any rising Peotone interest.

Team Jackson says that SNC-Lavalin is a really big firm that surely can survive this. But, at a minimum, the company’s woes undercut the congressman’s bargaining position.

* As usual, Jackson appears completely undaunted

Jackson implored Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to release more than 2,000 acres of land that the state has purchased so far to the possible development of an airport for the south suburbs to bring thousands of jobs and prosperity.

Jackson said a developer from Canada wants to use private funds to develop the first phase of the airport: a runway with five gates. He said the backers want to start construction to start by June 1st.

In the end, Jackson said, opposition by Emanuel and others don’t much matter, but that Quinn holds the key.

“We must win Quinn. We don’t need to win anyone else. The person who controls the lease to this land is Governor Pat Quinn. The governor and the governor alone controls our future and with the stroke of his pin he can eliminate poverty in the south land,” Jackson said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Coach - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 11:44 am:

    === opposition to the third airport comes from far higher up the political and economic food chain ===

    Higher than God?

  2. - Fries is Extra - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 11:45 am:

    Praise Jesus!

  3. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 11:46 am:

    If there were demand for more landing strips and gates, we’d be looking at runways in the impoverished, denuded area of Bensenville that was stripped of residents and business as part of Daley’s land grab, and an Elgin-O’Hare Expressway that could get you to either or both.

  4. - the Other Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 11:53 am:

    OK, weird. Too weird to comment on.

    So I’ll just stick with this: why Peotone? It’s not like a Peotone airport will attract jobseekers from the heart of Jesse Jackson’s district — it’s too far. I honestly don’t quite understand why he hasn’t explored the idea of expanding Gary International Airport — closer to the district, already viable, and part of the Chicago airport system. I mean, if his goal is to revitalize the economy of the South Side, doesn’t a larger Gary airport make more sense?

  5. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 11:54 am:

    Maybe the state should auction off the land. If Trips crew (backed by the Canadian government?) are high bidder, it’s theirs.

    Otherwise, that’s beautiful farmland that could be more productive than Trips pipedream.

  6. - Money Spent Elsewhere - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 11:56 am:

    ==like adding a third airport without actually building a new one ==

    Get a clue Pierre, Rahm - “It’s the congestion, stupid!”

  7. - Irish - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 11:57 am:

    It used to be Wisconsin and Indiana and now we are being invaded by Canada?

  8. - Shore - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 12:10 pm:

    What exactly does Jesse Jackson Jr have to show for his 15 years in congress? Bueller?

  9. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 12:20 pm:

    “What exactly does Jesse Jackson Jr have to show for his 15 years in congress? Bueller?”
    A hot blonde mistress, apparently.

  10. - The Doc - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 12:23 pm:

    ==”The governor and the governor alone controls our future and with the stroke of his pin he can eliminate poverty in the south land,” Jackson said.==

    Pat Quinn is God, people! All it takes is one “pinstroke”.

  11. - Cook County Commoner - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 12:25 pm:

    Considering the woes in Illinois, I thought this third airport idea was mothballed for a decade, at least. The insiders who bought or optioned farmland years ago probably sold at a profit based on increases in farmland prices. So what’s the deal with Jesse Jr.?
    The Canadian link might be the tell. Rumor had it that the India Businessmen’s Assoc. was postioned to fund Jesse Jr.s buy of the senate seat from Blago to protect their interests in medical clinics in poorer neighborhoods. Is this group linked up with the Indo-Canadian Business Association which bought some backing from the Canadian government?
    This is too bizarre.

    Sounds like Jesse Jr’s patrons at the India Businessmen’s Assoc. and the Indo-Canadian business Assoc. have a lot of money in play for a third airport.

  12. - Robert - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 12:39 pm:

    ==Maybe the state should auction off the land. If Trips crew (backed by the Canadian government?) are high bidder, it’s theirs.==
    Good idea even if the state ended up losing money. It was quite foolish of the state to spend so much out of the capital budget to buy all that land in the first place.

    So state should just give away the land?

  13. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 1:00 pm:

    Is Jackson trying for an airport or a new place for the circus?

  14. - Son of a Centrist - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 1:10 pm:

    Just another stupid stunt by Jackson the clown.

  15. - Stones - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 1:16 pm:

    These sort of antics aren’t going to endear JJJ to the masses (much less the residents of Eastern Will County) nor will it get the airport built any faster. In fact, IMHO it will be counterproductive to the whole process. Just a stunt to get a little face time on TV and thumb his nose at the opposition at the same time.

  16. - JN - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 1:17 pm:

    Name recognition is depressing.

  17. - Fries is Extra - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 1:18 pm:

    Seriously, expanding Gary would seem to be a quicker and more efficient way to increase capacity than building at Peotone, though building Peotone as a cargo terminal might make some sense.

  18. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 1:41 pm:

    Quinn is a god? So this time instead of assuming the character of an itinerant preacher hated and despised by the religious elites, he is a muddling politician, ignored and unnoticed by the political elites? I’m confused.

  19. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 1:48 pm:

    Funny, I thought that much of the land was still owned buy the private landowners.

    Remember that great idea to build MidAmerica airport? They built it and no one came.

    Rockford would be really upset if someone wanted to move their cargo service to Peotone. Gary could work as a passenger airport of there ever was a need.

    Got to agree with the United CEO. No need for a western terminal or additional runway at O’Hare at this time, spend money on the National Airspace System to improve efficiency and simply forget about Peotone as an airport

  20. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 2:10 pm:

    Jackson’s Peotone airport isn’t as weird as Daley’s Lake Calumet plan a few decades ago, before they went along with fixing up Midway.

    About 15 years ago, when Jr. took his Peotone airport show on the road he would carry around a Rand McNally atlas that left out the far south metro region. He suggested that the omission showed how badly the airport was needed — to put south metro Chicago on the map.

    You’d think a congressman would have tried calling Rand McNally. That would be a bit cheaper than building an airport most Illinoisans don’t care about or want, excluding those who exoect to reap a benefit for pushing it down our throats.

    I don’t accept the inflated “job” numbers of those hired to “study” the “need”.

    @the other Anon: That Gary airport is nearly as close or closer to most of Junior’s constituents than the Peotone site.

    I doubt that Junior really believes it’s not fair if his constituents must travel more than 15 miles to get to an international airport. He has been pushing this for so long, he can’t back down.

  21. - amalia - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 2:10 pm:

    third airport? the same United guy just got through saying that they are not in favor of O’Hare expansion either. it’s called money.

  22. - I. M. Nobody - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 2:19 pm:

    Cargo Cult!

  23. - Chicago Bars - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 2:56 pm:

    Maybe the problem with expanding Gary Airport to handle regional airport needs is…. that it’s in Indiana? Would be an interesting coalition supporting an expanded airport in a heavily democratic pocket of a state with a Republican governor.

    Pardon me while I pull up a chair as we wait for that groundswell of support to build.

  24. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 3:07 pm:

    –Maybe the problem with expanding Gary Airport to handle regional airport needs is…. that it’s in Indiana?–

    Gary already is part of the Gary Chicago Airport Compact and gets passenger facility charges generated at O’Hare and Midway.

    That compact was created by Congress in an end-around by Daley when Pate and Lee had majorities and Edgar was in the big chair to keep them from grabbing O’Hare and Midway.

    The problem with Gary is that no passenger airline wants to locate there permanently. The southern population base is content with Midway.

    Peotone would be even less attractive.

  25. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 4:20 pm:

    At the IVI-IPO endorsement session Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. claimed that it would take 25 minutes to get from Downtown to Peotone by Metra.

    This is completely inconsistent with the following known facts.
    * It takes 51 minutes on an express train to go from Millenium Station to University Park.
    * There would need to be an extension built past University Park to reach the airport.

    Given the JJJ plays way fast and loose with the facts I can check, I suspect his $700 million figure is exaggerated by at least a factor of two also.

  26. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 5:08 pm:

    Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. claimed that it would take 25 minutes to get from Downtown to Peotone by Metra.

    Maybe he meant Downtown Olympia Fields.

  27. - bored now - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 5:22 pm:

    Six Degrees of Separation: if so, then he meant to say 45 minutes (on the express train).

    look, there’s not a lot of support for the peotone airport as a passenger airport here in the south suburbs. for many, there’s outright hostility. but what else can jackson say? he’s completely vested in the concept, even after 9-11 and the collapse of the private capital markets. there are no airlines lined up, and the thought that the airline industry will expand (thus making additional airports more interested) is laughable. taking cargo out of o’hare, at least for cargo that is going south, makes sense IF we are realistic about the purpose and size of a peotone airport.

    i still think the land should be turned into a new capitol for the state, though…

  28. - Angry Chicagoan - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 6:16 pm:

    In a rational country, there would be a focus on economic development for the south side by trying to better connect it through things like, say, high-speed rail to things like, say, existing airports. Jackson keeps beating this idiotic proposal to death because in our not-rational polity there’s nothing else that stands the slightest chance of happening in the near term, and the airport seems to be “better than nothing.”

  29. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 6:24 pm:

    I’m sure Junior meant that the train ride will only be 25 minutes AFTER the high speed rail line is built.

    Surely there is adequate funding for a high speed rail line to Peotone.

  30. - bored now - Tuesday, Apr 24, 12 @ 10:11 pm:

    there’s no interest in a high speed rail line to peotone, even if a passenger airport is built. people in the south suburbs are perfectly comfortable with their choices (gary, midway & o’hare) and we need not pretend otherwise. i don’t know a single person who would prefer going to peotone, and i seriously doubt that an airline who flew into there (once it was built) could compete with the choices we have now. much more likely to service people south of that town than those of us in the south suburbs…

  31. - Fishingvest - Wednesday, Apr 25, 12 @ 8:27 am:

    @Wordslinger, I don’t remember Congress’s involvement in the Chicago Gary Airport Pact. I remember reading the Saturday Trib that announced the done deal. It seems that there was another airport on the Illinois Indiana border that was precedent and Daley jumped on it.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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