Thursday, September 22, 2005

Come Fly with Me

Perhaps the only thing more baffling than the midnight pillaging of Meigs Field is the fact that the City is now going to likely spend more money contesting the FAA fine than the amount of the fine itself is actually for. I don't know, maybe they figured that they hadn't gotten enough bad press on this issue. Don't get me wrong, I love green space as much as the next person, and then some. And before you say that I'm acting in self-interest, let me tell you that I drive to Springfield, not fly. But the airport should have stayed put.

I have a lot of childhood memories of watching planes take off and land downtown and think that Meigs was a gem on the lakefront. Plus, at a time when we are fighting to keep and attract conventions, it didn't really seem to make sense to do away with what was viewed by the business community as a great perk and convenience of doing business in Chicago.

But everything else aside, how the hell can it not look bad to rip up an airport in the middle of the night, while shining a truck-mounted light to blind the nearby camera to keep the public from seeing what was transpiring? If they wanted the land for park space, notwithstanding the additional acreage picked up by Millenium Park and the Soldier Field redesign, say so. And even if you wanted it to prevent an aerial assault by a fleet of Cessnas, then make that argument to City Council. (On an aside, in what other City would the Council stand aside and not say boo about something of this magnitude?) Many things may be best done in the middle of the night, tearing up an airport is not one of them.


At September 22, 2005 at 11:20 AM, Blogger JohnGalt said...

This is a perfect example of where the system of checks-and-balances broke down.

How could city hall have hidden such plans? Someone needed to call the contractor. Someone need to write a check. Someone needed to call the park district. Yet nothing was leaked.

And even if it was, who would speak out against Mayor Daley? Why risk a cush job as an alderman or an employee of the city of chicago to speak out against this? Why risk a job whose compensation you wouldn't likely be able to reproduce in the private sector? You have a family to feed and take care of. Why risk your pension? Is Megis Field worth that?

As a journalist, why ruin relations with city hall over something like this? You get invited to all the shindigs. Why upset them by speaking out against this? Next thing you know, you'll be out in the cold and covering zoning board issues in Morgan Park.

It is obvious to me why Megis was destroyed. No one wanted to risk anything to save it.

And no one will risk anything when it comes time to save Chicago, either.

At September 22, 2005 at 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What galls me is the fact that the City did this with such damn efficiency. If everything else was run with such precision, the City would be a much better place.

At September 22, 2005 at 2:42 PM, Anonymous macprez said...

Last week the Federal Aviation Administration levied the maximum fine for the first federal violation that can be tied directly to Mayor Daley. In 2003, in responding to an interrogatory in the lawsuit regarding the closure of Meigs which asked to “identify the person or persons who ordered the Meigs Field Action”, the City answered, “Mayor Richard M. Daley”.

The City also divulged who was involved in meetings held between March 20 and March 30, 2003 regarding Meigs closure. That list included: Richard M. Daley, Mayor; David Doig, Commissioner, Chicago Park District; Terry Hilliard, Superintendent, Chicago Police Department; James Joyce, Commissioner, Chicago Fire Department; Frank Kreusi, President, Chicago Transit Authority; Thomas Walker, Commissioner of Aviation; Cortez Trotter, Executive Director, Office of Emergency Management & Communications; Tim Mitchell, Chief of Infrastructure & Operations, Office of the Mayor; Michael Boland, Deputy Commissioner of Aviation; John Harris, First Deputy Commissioner of Aviation; Sheila O’Grady, Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor; Jackie Heard, Press Secretary; Ramon Ricondo, Ricondo & Associates; Shawn Kinder, Ricondo & Associates; and unnamed attorneys for the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District. Perhaps these current and former employees of the City should be required to divvy up the $33,000 fine and pay it. The citizens of Chicago shouldn’t have to pay when the people involved in the illegal decision are known.

Originally Mayor Daley said the midnight demolition was done at night because there was an emergency. The contractors used on March 30-31, 2003, Diamond Coring, Pre-form Painting, Rossi Construction, Inc and Airport Owners Representatives were supposedly selected because their existing contracts with the city contained emergency services provisions. But within days of carving up Meigs even Mayor Daley admitted that there was no emergency. If there was no emergency how could relying on emergency contracting provisions be valid? And if they weren’t valid were city contracting laws violated? Who is looking into this? The FAA is still investigating whether federal funds were misused it is not investigating whether violations of city contracting law occurred.

At September 22, 2005 at 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Rep Fritchey for "doing the right thing". It is truly amazing that the City will waste more of tax payer's dollars paying lawyers to fight this fee. It was bad enough that we have (for the time being) lost a business and homeland security asset under false pretenses. Daley lied to the public and the feds when he said it was an "emergency". Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge did not see any emergent threat from Meigs. The doctors who had flown their planes to Meigs for a convention at McCormick Place certainly were no threat. Meigs users spent over $500 Million annually in the City- that is the same amount as users of Navy Pier. The Chicago FD kept their only 2 helicopters @ Meigs. Now they are much further from the Loop, at 95th Street. The park district does not have money to build their "nature preserve". The temporary concert venue may bring the park districty $800,000.00 this year, but what about the expenses needed to maintain that land? The concert venue, btw, can be easily moved to Grant Park, where parking is easier and the views are just as nice. The Friends of Meigs Field, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assocaition, the business community of Chicago and "stand up" guys and gals like Rep Fitchey all will be around alot longer than this mayor. It will not take much to convert Meigs back to operational status (the tower and terminal still remain), so with a little concrete, runway lights and people working to re-build our downtown airport, it can and should be done... we deserve it!

At September 22, 2005 at 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can hope for is that those big X's on the runway were the nails that finally seal Mr. Daley,s coffin shut. He is nothing short of a spoiled brat looking to get his way at all costs. I beleive one of his reasons was the threat of some bio threat from a small plane from Migs. How rediculous! To effectivly eliminate such a threat you'd need to close every small airport in america and ban air traffic of any kind within a 50 mile radius of the Loop! Then as long as he's doing that he might as well ban all auto traffic and all people with backpacks too. We can't have car bombs and backpack bombs in his city! I can only hope the next Mayor sees the great loss and replaces "The Gem of the Lake" without delay. Migs Field is an icon for Chicago like no other city has. I don't live in the city any more but don't think his rule is not felt outside of the city limits. Just ask those people who live around O'Hare. I think it is high time that the people of Chicago put an end to the terrorism waged agenst them by Richard M. Daley.

At September 23, 2005 at 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Rep Fritchey, for speaking up in an otherwise silent, gutless political atmosphere. The Next Mayor will see the folly of this one. Daley let his emotions overwhelm his good judgement in this instance.

At September 24, 2005 at 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Classic Kruesi.

At September 24, 2005 at 7:39 PM, Blogger respectful said...

This is one of the things I like about Fritchey. He's not afraid to say the emperor has no clothes, even tho he's a fellow Dem.

At September 24, 2005 at 7:46 PM, Blogger respectful said...

Very few Republicans publicly said anything critical of George Ryan while he was governor, even as the scandal widened and it was clear to all that corruption had been widespread at the SOS on George's watch. It would be better if members of both parties would look honestly at their own dirty linen once in a while instead of lobbing predictable partisan brickbats at the opposition.

At September 25, 2005 at 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking out against injustices years after they happen takes courage and leadership. I praise Rep. Fritchey for critizing the City of Chicago (an organization he is not part of) over this major $30,000 decision.

Speaking out like this years after the event happens will assure that such abuses will not take place in the future.

At September 25, 2005 at 8:38 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

While I realize that some folks will complain about anything, the last post just seals that fact. My post was not intended to be a ex post facto (no pun intended) line in the sand, rather it was driven be the fact that one of the leading individuals in the fight to save Meigs was at one of my recent town hall meetings. After talking about the issue with her for a while, it got me thinking about the airport, so I decided to post my thoughts.

At September 27, 2005 at 10:59 PM, Blogger WWDMD said...

well needless to say.. this what happens when there are no strong mayoral opponents


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