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Fritchey tries to defend vote

Thursday, Feb 5, 2009

* During a recent 5th Congressional District candidates’ debate, state Rep. John Fritchey said this

“I’ve long maintained that privatizing of public assets is like selling off your furniture to pay your mortgage.”

Fritchey was responding to a question about whether, after elected, they would support Mayor Daley’s plan to privatize Midway Airport with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Rep. Sara Feigenholtz kinda hedged at first, but when questioned directly about whether she would sign a letter to the FAA in support, she said…

“I don’t think I would. No.”

…Adding… A couple people have claimed that Feigenholtz was responding to a question by the moderator about whether she would sign a letter in “opposition” to the Midway sale. Not according to the tape and the transcript I have…

LYNN SWEET: So, if you were in the House today, would you write the letter to the FAA to say privatize, we urge you to do it…

FEIGENHOLTZ: I don’t think I would. No.

Hope that clears things up.

* Yesterday, Mayor Daley shot back

[Daley] noted that Fritchey voted for the 2006 bill that set the stage for the Midway and parking garage deals by granting blanket property tax exemptions to private investors who lease those city assets.

And Daley advised Fritchey and his rivals to “go back to business school” to learn the benefits of turning city assets into a cash windfall to keep building while other cities are cutting back.

Feigenholtz also voted for that bill.

* Since Daley singled out Fritchey, the Tribune went to him for comment

“I am in no way hedging on my comments,” Fritchey said after being told of Mayor Richard Daley’s reaction. “I still think that privatization of assets is not a desirable long-term policy … We’ve gone decades without having to privatize city assets.”

But Fritchey said he agreed with Daley’s comments that the state has forced the city to seek other solutions by failing to fund infrastructure projects.

“There’s no question that the state is lacking in its obligations,” Fritchey said.

Asked to explain his vote for legislation that made the Midway deal possible, Fritchey responded, “I voted to give Chicago officials the authority to do that. As a general rule, I support the concept of local control.”


…Adding… Both Fritchey and Feigenholtz also voted for a bill to sell the Thompson Center.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anon - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 10:30 am:

    Rich, I’m pretty sure the question was whether or not the candidates would write a letter to the FAA in OPPOSITION to lease of Midway and Rep. Feigenholtz said she wouldn’t. You may want to check that.

  2. - Amy - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 10:31 am:

    O’Connor was not there. wonder what his private answer was to the Mayor? bet it was full steam ahead, richie.

  3. - The Doc - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 10:34 am:

    I typically loathe Mayor Daley’s financial policies, from TIFs to fees, and especially leasing assets for pennies on the dollar as a quickie fix for a fiscal year budget. But he’s on the mark with his comments about Fritchey. The 2006 bill was very specific in its purpose. Fritchey voted for it. And now he’s kowtowing. Would Fritchey make the same remarks if he wasn’t running for the 5th CD seat?

  4. - FlackerBacker - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 10:37 am:

    Anon is correct, Sweet asked whether as congressman, they would write a letter of support of privatization to the FAA.

  5. - errata - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 10:41 am:

    Rich, c’mon! He wasn’t running for congress when he made that vote!

    Anon and flackerbacker -
    If he had just said no, that’s one thing. But Fritchey went on to pretend to be something he’s not.

    And he got caught. Ah well.

    Its not the biggest deal because, frankly, that district cares about O’Hare’ not midway. Whatever the context.

  6. - Bill - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 10:45 am:

    Well, Flacker, which is it? Support or oppose or does she have to check a poll first?
    Everyone else’s position is pretty clear.
    ===Rep. Sara Feigenholtz kinda hedged at first===
    Daley is the last one to talk about going back to school.

  7. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 10:45 am:

    Sorry John, but Rich is right. Why did you vote for this bill if you were opposed to this “not a desirable long-term policy”?

    “I voted to give Chicago officials the authority to do that. As a general rule, I support the concept of local control.”

    Nah. The Mayor got ya, even if you deftly found where you and Rich agree and changed the subject.

    I don’t recommend continuing with the anti-privatization spiel until you can hit harder and cleaner to score points. It looks like a wash right now.

  8. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 10:47 am:

    Why did he single out Fritchey. Everyone on the panel said they were against it. Sounds like a cranky Mayor Daley day.

  9. - Brody - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 10:47 am:

    Fritchey and feigenholtz would say anything to get elected. Daley is right this time….Wheelan seems to be legit especially for economic decisions like this one.

  10. - unspun - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 10:49 am:

    Fritchey is trying to two-step this issue. In his unbridled zeal to criticize decisions made by others, he has boxed himself in. When put on the defensive (as he has done to others so often) his solution is to dodge the question, hedge, and deflect. I wouldn’t normally be so critical, but he has so often championed himself as the white night of truth and transparency.

  11. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 10:50 am:

    Typical backtracking from backbencher Fritchey.

  12. - Fire Ron Guenther - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 11:06 am:

    any word on petition challenges? I hear Pulido survived hers.

  13. - Joe Lake - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 11:19 am:

    Fritchey tries …

    but gets in trouble with Da Mayor. Worse than being a clockwatcher. I have to agree with the Mayor–this time.

    Joe Lake, Bucktown

  14. - Joe Lake - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 11:23 am:

    IL 5th CD Non-survivors …

    Chicago Journal Feb. 4, 2009, has ” [Pete] Dagher [D] drops out of race”

    Joe Lake, Bucktown

  15. - Johnny USA - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 11:26 am:


    Having living room furniture out on the front lawn is rather…Kentucky, dontchathink?

    I’ll take sleeping on the floor with a roof over my head, over sleeping on a couch out on someone’s front lawn any day of the week, Honorable.

    Mayor Daley is right on this one. (*shudder*)

  16. - Fire Ron Guenther - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 11:36 am:

    Thanks Joe Lake!

  17. - Politics is the Art of Dealing with Changing Circumstances - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 11:43 am:

    Where’s the contradiction in what Fritchey said?

    The state wasn’t living up to its responsibility to the city. The city needed cash so Fritchey supported the bill as it let the city get the cash it needed. Given his druthers, Fritchey would rather the state live up to its responsiblity. But that wasn’t going to happen. One can facilitate legislation even if one doesn’t like all the ways that legislation might be utilized. Ultimately, responsibility for the city’s finances lay at the door of Daley and the City Council.

    Now that there’s new leadership in Springfield, the state might actually meet some of its responsibilities to the city.

    Separate but related, Daley is doing the city no favor with his absurd sweetheart deals and selling/leasing off city assets at below-market values.

    Who could possibly justify his parking meter deal?

    So Fritchey isn’t wrong about Daley selling off our furniture, is he?

    As usual, a complex issue doesn’t lend itself to the overly simplistic answers that (a) Daley offers, or (b) candidate forums with 12+ participants demand.

  18. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 11:47 am:

    I really don’t see a contradiction here. There’s a difference between giving someone the rope to hang themselves and approving of them hanging themselves.

  19. - Joe Lake - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 12:01 pm:

    Another IL 5th CD Non-Survivor …

    Green Party candidate Alan Auguston in a press release Feb. 5, 2009 said he is withdrawing due to a family illness.

    Joe Lake, Bucktown

  20. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 12:01 pm:

    Cermak, I think there is a contradiction. Using your analogy, if you give someone a rope, and you know they’re going to hang themselves, you’re an accomplice.

    If Fritchey is against privatization of Midway and thinks it’s a bad deal for his constituents, and the city needed the state’s approval to do it, he should have voted against it.

  21. - The Doc - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 12:02 pm:

    The contradiction lies within what he said last week and his voting record in Springfield.

    The intent of the 2006 bill was very clear, in that it would essentially allow Daley to lease city assets to private operators by virtue of property tax exemptions to those operators. But for this statute, the transactions would have been much less likely to garner interested parties.

    That, in combination with Fritchey’s vote in favor of selling the Thompson Center, is in direct conflict with his statements made at the 5th CD debate.

    If Fritchey is/was against such deals, as he claimed, he had opportunities both with his vote and his status as a legislator to voice such opposition. He’s presumably only now choosing to do so as a means to win a Congressional seat.

    A claim of buyer’s remorse would have been more intellectually honest and easier to stomach. Maybe he didn’t realize that Daley would be selling off as many assets as he has. Or maybe he foresaw a much bigger windfall than what the city received. But he did neither.

  22. - Politics is the Art of Dealing with Changing Circumstances - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 12:08 pm:

    Wordslinger, How do you blame Fritchey for helping the city pursue the course of action it (i.e. Daley & the City Council) wants?

    Different analogy than Cermak’s: A girl I knew sold stock in the family business to buy a new car. Her parents thought it was a bad idea, but she had made up her mind. So, they bought the stock back from her. You can’t blame the parent for having given her the stock in the first place. They would have made a different decision if they could, but it was the daughter’s decision to make.

  23. - Politics is the Art of Dealing with Changing Circumstances - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 12:16 pm:

    Sorry Doc, your conclusion doesn’t hold.

    It’s like the abortion issue. Many people oppose abortion. I’m one of them. But, I don’t think the way you reduce the demand for it is by outlawing it. Instead, you reduce the demand by preventing the pregnancy in the first place — through sex ed that covers the waterfront from abstinence, to birth control, to the morning after pill.

    You’ve not pointed out any contradiction in what Fritchey has said or done.

  24. - Ditto - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 12:28 pm:

    If you attended the forum or watched it online, you probably got the sense that Fritchey was trying to play to the crowd - liberal, lakefront, progressive. Defintiely not a lot of daley lovers or privatization supporters. But you can’t have it both ways — you can’t vote for a bill authorizing the privatization and then say you’re against it and blast it like he did. Those were pretty sharp words directed at the mayor and against privatization. The others seemed to have more philosophical problems with privatization in general. No one said they would outright support it. If he just said that he was against it and didn’t grandstand the issue he wouldn’t have picked up any flak.

    However, whoever becomes the next congressman will learn that the mayor can be very persuasive. :)

  25. - Bill - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 12:36 pm:

    The bill didn’t authorize privatization and both reps voted the same way.
    The mayor picked Fritchey to shoot at because he considers him the greatest threat to win. Daley’s used to controlling that seat what with Rahm and Rosty and that other guy. Daley considers strong leaders threats against his control. He’s scared of Fritchey.

  26. - Ditto - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 1:03 pm:

    Fritchey, like feigengholtz and a majority of other dems voted in favor of legislation that authorized the midway lease and other privitization of city assets. While feigenholtz voted for it, she didn’t outright blast it at the forum in an attempt to draw cheers from the crowd as Fritchey did.

    The mayor singled him out because fritchey did the same to him at the forum - just read any news report for proof of that. With approval ratings in the 80s, I really don’t think Mayor Daley has much to be afraid of.

  27. - Captain America - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 2:06 pm:

    When Daley retires, what is the next mayor going to do when our all our assets have been leased to private operators? It’s complicated, but I’m not convinced that wholesale leasing of revenue-generating assets is wise public policy in the long run.

    When Daley leaves office, I suspect that we will find out that the Chicago budget is a house of cards that was held together by his political power and persona.

  28. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 4:42 pm:

    Politics, my point is that Daley is not a king.

    He needed the approval of the state for this scheme. Fritchey represents his constituents in the GA. He was elected for his good judgement, not to be a serf. If he thought it was a bad idea, he should have been voted against it.

    We forget, the city is chartered by the state. The tail doesn’t have to wag the dog.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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