Illinois Governor, Pat "Huckster" Quinn, wants to borrow $110 million to buy 2,500 acres of farmland for the White Elephant known as Peotone Airport. Justifying that borrowing is the contention that the cost of the farmland is at "bargain basement" levels. Seems to me that the Huckster would want to borrow the money to pay all of the school districts that have been waiting years and are in arrears. The governor, though, could care less about education.
I don't know what it is about Pat Quinn, but, for a man who carefully crafted an image of being on the side of the people when his previous boss, former Governor Rod Blagojevich, was wreaking havoc on the taxpayers of Illinois, he sure resembles Blago more and more. However, I have said from the beginning that Quinn is no more a populist than his predecessor was, that is for sure. Pat Quinn is a political chameleon and has deceived all those he claimed to care for. But what the hell, as long as his mother loves him?
So far as Peotone goes, this is just another wasteland project that our politicians want to get started in order to reward the unions that supported them. After all, positioning idle heavy equipment does somehow give the illusion that work will be done, eventually. Problem is, there will be no work, at least on a passenger airport, because the major airlines have already refused to join in on another needless drain on their revenue. If anyone needs reminding of that, well, just look at the recent brouhaha involving the O'Hare Airport Expansion.
I suppose this may be nothing more than extracting yet more $$$ out of our favorite pork purveyor, Ray LaHood. Ray LaHood has been spreading the pork around pretty damn good in his home state of late. Still, none of those projects will do anything more than reward the high power campaign donors and the same construction outfits who get the bulk of the work. All the while, that pork is conveniently covered by an unwitting American taxpayer.
Will County Executive Larry Walsh even thinks Peotone is a great idea. But, we all know that all he is looking for is just another Ray LaHood Pork Barrel Bailout. At least that is the take I had when he predicted that the federal government will ride to the financial rescue of the Peotone project. Walsh, of course, is looking to invigorate Will County which has been mired with high unemployment, but his assessment that we actually need Peotone is more than misguided, unless of course that third airport will be used 100% for Cargo.
And if that is the case, then maybe that would tie in all of the Inter-Modal yards that have built east of Joliet lately? Too bad those jobs really don't bring as many as people would think they do. Of course, they don't seem to pay well either, given the complaints heard from those already working there that their wages are sub-standard. So, if the argument is that this is all about providing plenty of good paying jobs, well that doesn't hold water either.
Peotone has been nothing but a scam from the get go. If the Federal Government invests there as a means for a third passenger airport in the region, then they are being hoodwinked. Airlines have refused to land there, period! And if they were to, then the extra infrastructure required, to allow travelers quick and ready access in and out of such an airport, becomes even more complicated. Why the Secretary of Transportation isn't looking at the Gary / Chicago International Airport to alleviate congestion at O'Hare and Midway, goes beyond common sense. Gary has substantially more upside than Peotone has and its proximity to Downtown Chicago is far superior and closer. Naturally, Illinois does not want to share with Indiana, but then again, that is a fools game given the benefits for both.
No, Peotone is, and has been, about rewarding powerful interests that already know that there will never be passenger flights coming in and out of this so-called third airport. This project is about something else entirely. After a couple of runways are built, there will be a change of heart and then the real deals will fall into place. As I see it, the powers-that-be could have leveled with the taxpayer all along about what the real intent was, which was to build a cargo airport there. Then again, all those greasy hands wouldn't have been able to grossly exaggerate the projected costs of a desperately (not) needed passenger airport and still have taken their maximum cuts and run too.
You know, sometimes you just have to be observant, though. Anyone living out this way already knows how they have built-up the Inter-Modals and that could only mean one thing - it is about moving cargo. From the early land grabs to the quick approval by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to sell the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern to Canadian National it sure brings it all into a much clearer focus. It sure makes sense to me. Have the usual power players figured out a very slick way to get the Federal Government to spring for their project almost in its entirety? Wait and see is all I can say.
But, that doesn't mean that their scam will work either. One should just think back to the Mid-America St. Louis Airport scam which was originally designed to alleviate crowding at Lambert - St. Louis International Airport. That airport, by the way, is in St. Clair County, Illinois. It only cost taxpayers $313 million back in 1997 and offered the area a new cargo and customs terminal designed to attract international cargo. As of January 2010, I am happy to report that there is one cargo outfit using those facilities to import flowers from Columbia once a week. Maybe a new deal with the drug cartels could make that operation profitable?
As for Quinn's $110 million?
It would be better spent paying-off the school districts!
Tags: Peotone Airport: Transportation: Governor Quinn: Rod Blagojevich: State Borrowing: Education: Education Funding: Politics: Political Corruption: Ray LaHood: Pork Barrel Spending: Government Waste: Air