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Rhetoric heats up

Thursday, Mar 30, 2006

I had a little about this in this morning’s Capitol Fax, but here is a much longer story.

For the second time in as many days, a white south suburban mayor has called on Gov. Rod Blagojevich to lease 4,200 acres of land to build the long-discussed third airport in the region.

Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld said in a written statement that Blagojevich’s backing of the airport is “the single most important act the governor can do to support the Southland.”

“The South Suburbs have been the stepchild of Illinois for too long,” Hofeld said. “As a region, we are told to be patient, that our time will come. Well, we’re tired of waiting.”

Hofeld’s announcement comes on the heels of a fiery statement by Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch, who blasted Blagojevich for playing “racial politics” over the airport

And here’s another one.

Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson said supporters of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Peotone airport plan must be getting desperate.

Halvorson, D-Crete, was reacting Wednesday to news stories on Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch’s statement that Gov. Rod Blagojevich was using “racial politics” in the proposed Peotone airport debate.

Blagojevich is refusing to partner with predominantly black southern Cook County towns that back Jackson, D-Chicago, and he’s trying to appease the mostly white Will County communities, Welch said in published reports.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with race,” Halvorson said from Springfield. “It never has. What a shame they have decided to play the race card. I’m offended by that.”

Halvorson said she is continuing to try to get a development district bill passed in the Legislature that would protect the communities closest to the airport site, which is completely located in eastern Will County.

The Senate has already passed the bill and it’s waiting for a vote in the House. Halvorson said the Legislature’s session could be extended past the current April 7 adjournment date, which would make a vote on the bill more likely.

Read the whole thing. Pretty intense. You can see Mayor Welch’s full press release here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Marta Elena - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 7:19 am:

    I did my thesis on the proposed 3rd airport. Its a nearly 40 year historical and political analysis of the airport since it was first proposed by the first Mayor Daley in 1967 during his inaugural speech.

    And from what I can recall, this is the first time that the south suburban mayors have used ‘racial politics’ to draw the Governor’s attention.

    It doesn’t give justice to the countless numbers of supporters through the years, mostly republicans like former Senator DeAngelis - who actually lost his seat to Halvorson.

    However, from my understanding - Jackson’s proposal includes the use of private funds. Will County does not use private funds, okay - maybe a small portion and they are relying on the federal government to fund the third airport. Jackson’s proposal does not rely on the federal government. Of course, Will County are well aware that there are no federal funds available for airports at this time, or in the near future.

    By backing the Will County plan, it is almost as saying ,they would like the airport plan killed.

    And last I heard, major private investors are hard to come by in Illinois.

    Since 1995, the Will County officials and Congressman Jackson both supported the third airport. But due to political infighting and indecision in Will County - they are no longer supporting Jackson’s proposal.

    I am talking about the flip-flop of Will County - first they supported the plan - now they don’t . Halvorson used to promote the Jackson’s proposal for the third airport - now she is trying to kill it.

    Weller supported the plans for years - and now he doesn’t.

    I am looking for Governor to provide leadership on this issue. He stated in his 2005 State of the State address that he would build the third airport

    and I quote “[Jackson’s] his plan to use private investment is both a welcome and an innovative way to build an airport”.

  2. - Will Truth Squad - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 8:29 am:

    Kudos to Marta’s thesis because the saga of the third airport is an epic tale. She qualifies her statements but these are facts. Jackson’s plan involves two private developers, who served as consultants to Elk Grove Village and Bensenville, O’ Hare opponents. They clearly weren’t going to get any business from O’Hare so threw in with Jackson on this plan. Their financial committment is unknown as is their total dollar committment.

    Will County will have a private developer. But first a legitimate governing entity must be in place. They are the ones that will award and oversee contracts. Also, they will select a developer that will abide by all federal and state requirements, such as procurement and minority participation, which Jackson’s developers refuse to do.

    This is a complicated subject but simple in certain respecst. Jackson’s ALNAC plan is controlled by Elk Grove Village and until recently BEnsenville. Bensenville is on the sidelines now because they are not a home rule municipality so AG Madigans’s opinion knocked them out.

    Will COunty simply believes a majority of Will COunty residents should be on a governing entity given the powers necessary to build and run an airport by the General Assembly. We want this airport to succeed over the long run, not just long enough for some folks to make a fortune and leave town.

  3. - Pat Hickey - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 9:10 am:

    Yes, both of the above statements make perfect sense, But - Congressman Tummy Tuck wants the airport! That is the larger issue.

  4. - Wile Coyote - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 10:10 am:

    Do you really believe the private sector is going to kick in several billion to build this so called 3rd airport? It cost Lambert St. Louis over $1.3 billion just to build one new runway (w/ buyouts). Expand Gary and Rockford-swallow your parochial pride. This is not a southland issue, it’s a national air service issue. The carriers are going broke and they will be the one’s to pay for this 3rd airport folly through landing fees and passenger facility charges and guess who they pass those costs onto? Invest in the existing airport infrastructure and save that land for other opportunities.

  5. - 3rd Ward - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 10:21 am:

    I appreciate the informed analysis presented by some of the bloggers. The South Suburbs are in dire need of an economic engine. I think the Governors leadership is clearlly needed in this standoff.
    Does any one know Topinkas position on the third airport?

  6. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 10:49 am:

    If we need another airport we should invest in building Gary. Building another airport that will go bust out of the gates just doesn’t make any sense. There are better ways to build long term growth in the south suburbs. Many of the towns are starting to grow buisness areas again, and we should continue to push that kind of growth. Jackson just likes the ideas that will get him most in the paper. Besides, why shouldn’t the people of Will County, many of which have severe economic trouble, get the jobs? Aren’t they the ones that will have to deal with planes flying over their heads and huge increases of traffic?

  7. - Marta Elena - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 11:10 am:

    Anonymous - 10:49
    Please kindly move to Indiana.

    Last I heard, the State of Illinois should be interested in creating jobs here - not pushing them out of state.

    The 3rd Chicago airport has been politicized through every gubernatorial election since Edgar, and I believe Thompson - during the Illinois Airport System Plan Policy Committee in 1986-89.

    I was hopefully that it would not be politicized in this cycle.

    I’m for Will County officials controlling some aspect of the airport - Jackson has been courting Will County officials since 1995. Most have been on board until recently. From my experience and research, he has never excluded anhyone from the commission.

  8. - Wile Coyote - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 2:20 pm:

    The City of Chicago has already spent $ at Gary (even though it is in dreaded Indiana). Daley is to be commended for that. Trust me, airports need airlines far more than airlines need new airports. Airlines need improvememts at existing airports and a fair cost structure. They don’t have that and as much as we all love to hate them, get ready to pay for all the little extras. The last thing they or we as consumers need is the debt and cost of a new airport when cheaper alternatives exist.Airlines can not be forced to move anyway. I’m sorry but this is just a political football for the south interests who want their share of pork, but this is a hog that our grandchildren will be paying for decades after we are all gone.

  9. - the wonderboy - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 2:51 pm:

    The South Suburbs have been the stepchild of Illinois? Pretty sure that those who live outside of greater Chicago would have a much stronger claim to that title.

    I can’t help but laugh when I hear about the cry for a third Chicago airport. Lord knows that those downstate regularly drive 2 hours or more to get to Chicago or St. Louis for a decent flight. The point is, there are other airports within Illinois that could easily be expanded since O’Hare and Midway are at or above capacity. Why build something new when better alternatives exist?

  10. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 2:56 pm:

    The gary airport is already controlled by Chicago just as Midway and O’Hare. So to say that your turning jobs away to Indiana isn’t true. If a 3rd airport gets built it should be controlled by Will County, not Jackson. I’m not saying we don’t need help in the south suburbs, I’m saying the airport is not the answer.

  11. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 3:20 pm:

    After O’Hare opened, Daley saw the need to replace Midway. By proposing a new airport, Chicago would get an airport to serve southern Cook county, stimulating the dying economy there, and creating a balance of growth around the Loop.

    But O’Hare succeeded too well. It drew so much business of of the Loop and Hyde Park area, it completely shifted the Chicagoland population away from Lake Michigan towards Illinois farmland in the west and northwest. While this happened, the South side continued to die. This was North America’s industrial heartland, and no one saw the collapse of the industrial age happening so fast, leaving behind so much wasteland and poverty. Like Prairie Avenue, folks with money left this area and moved north.

    When Republican governors start getting elected, the airport possibility was too tempting to leave to Chicago. Power brokers wanted to move Daley’s Midway replacement to Will County. It makes absolutely no sense to locate an airport in Will County - none! These proposals effectively killed the airport plans for the next twenty years.

    During these passing 40 years, it makes even less sense to locate an airport in Will County. Chiagoland continues to slowly grow away from Will County. Proposed commuters will have to face 120 mile plus, round-trips which make no sense. Airlines are not interested in serving an airport so far from it’s population.

    The entire Midway airport replacement scenario is a clear demonstration of how rotten politics can destroy healthy cities. Chicago today would be a completely different place economically than it is today had the Midway replacement airport been completed where it was originally proposed and when it was originally proposed.

    Instead of rotting factories and polluted rivers, there would be a vibrant city similar to the area around O’Hare. Chicago would remain the airport capital of North America, and the City would continue enjoying the reason it exists: location-location-location!

    At this point, there is no reason to build the airport. Not in Will County. Considering where people moved to while politicians battled the issue, it make more sense now to build a third aiport in the far northwestern suburbs of Chicagoland instead. Chicago will continue to dry up and we will be needing to cough up more taxes to help support this dying city that got screwed by the pols. Thanks to politics, what we have here is a future Detroit.

  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 4:00 pm:

    If you think we are turning into Detriot I think your nuts. I don’t support the airport, but to say the population is moving away from Will County is also nuts. Will county is one of the fastest growing counties in the country, and by far the fastest growing county in Illinois.

  13. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 7:23 pm:

    All this over 5 gates, a windsock, and twice a week flights via Hooters Air.

  14. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 7:28 pm:

    Not even that. Hooters just died.

  15. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 7:58 pm:

    I reckon the future Will County airport just lost one potential customer.

    Anon 4:00 is right. though. At Will County’s current rate of growth, and DuPage’s leveling off, Will County will overtake DuPage as the #2 population county in IL in about 2017 or so, give or take a few. And adjacent beyond-the-collars Grundy and Kendall, and to a lesser extent Kankakee, shall continue to feed the growth in Will’s job market.

    Someday, there may be a dynamic that makes a Will County airport sustainable as a comparable alternative to ORD and MDW. But not anytime soon, as far as I can tell. I just hope that if it’s built, it doesn’t turn into another Mid-America Airport, crushing the hopes that have been invested for so many years by Southland leaders and citizens. An I-57 south suburban railport/warehouse/manufacturing corridor, or even the Illiana Expressway, would be a more sure bet for economic development than this thing…at this time, IMO.

  16. - Will Truth Squad - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 8:48 pm:

    Six Degrees is closest to being on the mark. At the present rate of growth Will County will surpass DUpage in the next decade. However, the rate of growth keeps increasing making it sooner rather than later. Mid-America was Jerry Costello’s attempt at not investing in Lambert. The investment has already been made in O’Hare and the population growth of the ST. Louis region is not even comparable to what is happening in Will County. The industrial/commercial corridor is already happening with the intermodal facility, the extension of I-355, and the renewed interest in the Illiana. The airport is simply the next logical extension.

  17. - Anon - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 10:28 pm:





  18. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 10:55 pm:

    Will Truth: you are correct that Will is growing jobs, and the I-55 intermodal terminal and associated businesses are going to increase Will’s profile as a major economic engine. However, it doesn’t do a lot for south Cook other than to give people another place to go to work. Property taxes in the Southland are pretty high, incomes are lower than average for the collars, and people have to seek employment elsewhere in order to make a decent wage.

    This airport will be another place to go to work, assuming it generates the kind of jobs and spinoff industries its proponents are hoping for. Unless there’s some real unusual tax sharing structure, south Cook will still be stuck with those high property taxes, out of area commutes, and a lack of industrial/commercial base. I doubt Homewood, Tinley Park, or Robbins get much spin-off business from the airport.

    Anon 10:28: Why the yelling? Personally, I think it is mostly about Chicago, Elk Grove, Bensenville, the Iron Ring, and a reluctance for airlines to move from what they know is a major hub with connectivity to an unknown circumstance. Being the Southland, unfortunately race is always in the background, and it bubbles to the surface once in awhile - and this is one of those whiles.

  19. - Anon - Friday, Mar 31, 06 @ 6:31 am:

    6 degrees, sorry wasn’t yelling…computer key was stuck on cap lock. but if alnac is in control, then its their job to attrack airlines. private developers will have a vested interest to do so.

    another way to put it, how are weller and halverson gonna get airlines to sign up under their plan? they are using traditional airport financing. and if thats the case, who pays the bill?

  20. - Anon - Friday, Mar 31, 06 @ 7:14 am:

    Marta, you are grossly misinformed and are clearly sucked in by Jesse “the sky is falling” Jackson Jr’s misinformation machine. I would respond more substantively, but there are so many erroneous statements in your post that I would not know where to begin.

    I suggest that Jackson seek to build an airport in his own district rather than someone else’s. Like maybe Chicago Heights.

  21. - Will Truth Squad - Friday, Mar 31, 06 @ 8:59 am:

    Anon is wrong. Airlines will not express any interest until there is a Record of decision by the FAA. FOr a variety of reasons, we are 18-24 months from that. Airlines also want a stable governance entity, not one that is controlled by a bunch of municipalities that have been promised dollars that will never materialize. Finally, the governance entity should determine the financing. At this point, every option is open and several other developers are following this closely.

    Six: I don’t argue with your statements but Congressman Jackson’s main rallying cry for the airport is the jobs it will create for the south suburbs. We in Will County agree that there will be plenty of jobs for south side and south suburban residents as well as Will COunty. We have always been committed to regional representation on the governing entity.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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