Sen. Mark Kirk inexcusably silent about South Suburban Airport

For decades, transportation planners, politicians and others have been talking about relieving the jam-packed O’Hare Airport by building a new one in the south suburbs. Under the leadership of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Bensenville, Elk Grove Village and others, a private investor/builder/operator was found to partner with government, to the extent that it would cost the public virtually nothing when compared with O’Hare Airport expansion.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley saw the new airport as a threat to his motherlode of jobs and contracts at O’Hare so he pulled every political lever that he could to halt the new airport’s progress.

Now comes Illinois’ new GOP Sen. Mark Kirk who gave a speech supporting public-private partnerships, including for airports, because federal transportation money was so tight. But when he was asked if he supported the South Suburban Airport, he seemed to enter  a trance. He would not commit to it.

This is inexcusable and hypocritical. It also raises the question of whether Illinois’ political establishment is determined to keep Daley’s brick on the new airport.

Read more details in this excellent column by Phil Kadner of the Southtown Star.


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  • 1. No need to support something championed by a maybe disgraced Congressman who might be defeated by a bug eyed former Congresswoman who actually lives near it.

    2. Kirk is more interested in getting hybrid buses to his hometown of Highland Park.

    3. But the bottom line is--you are back at your old O'Hare conspiracy theory again. Why would a Republican who defeated the Machine darling Alexi have any interest in carrying an ex-mayor's water? Maybe Kirk is more interested in his often stated position that he doesn't want to add to the deficit because the Chinese might end up owning us. Ever think of that?????????

  • Right, there I go again. So why, after explicitly saying that he backs public/private partnerships, does Kirk go silent about the south suburban airport? In fact, Daley did do everything he could to delay, even stop, the SSA. Do you actually think that he didn't? Did you believe him when he denied having any opinion on the SSA?

    Why would Republicans eschew the SSA in favor of O'Hare expansion? Need I remind you that George Ryan did? That the SSA got virtually no support from Republicans, even though privatization is a big thing for them and the SSA would have been a template public-private partnerships? That among the biggest backers of O'Hare expansion, at the expense of the SSA, were Eden Martin and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, no hotbed of Democrats? That John Kass is right when he portrays Illinois politics as a combine of Democrats and Republicans?

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Need I remind you that George Ryan was from Kankakee, about 5 miles from the proposed airport? Maybe that's why he supported it. Also Ryan proved what kind of Republican he was, sort of from the Blagojevich school of Republicanism.

    I have seen no evidence that Kirk is part of the Combine, and I live in his former district. On the other hand, Ryan clearly was.

    Finally, to have a private-public partnership, one needs evidence that the private part can make a profit. Since no airline says that it is going to use the field, maybe Kirk hasn't seen evidence of that yet. Remember--not even Daley could lease Midway, and also remember the airport to nowhere on the Illinois side of the river across from St. Louis.

    So, you were right in your first sentence "Right, there I go again." Provide some tangible proof for your conspiracy theory, not baseless innuendo. BTW, are you still being paid by the former Bensenville politicians?

  • In reply to jack:

    A consortium of two developers were committed to the SSA: SNC-Lavalin Inc. of Canada and LCOR Inc. of New York. SNC-Lavalin, a global development firm with offices in 30 countries, is the owner-developer-operator of Vatry Airport in Paris; the Vancouver International Airport in British Columbia, Canada; and the Malta International Airport in the Mediterranean Sea. Its partner, LCOR, built and manages the $1.4 billion International Terminal in New York’s Kennedy Airport.

    Originally, a developer that did a lot of business with Chicago was interested but Daley blew up when he heard that it was. He threatened to kill that company's city business.

    No airline said it would not use the airport? Perhaps publicly; who wants to lose their gates at O'Hare in retaliation for speaking out? But two major airport developers would have to be out of their minds if they did not believe that they could make money there.

    I didn't say that Ryan supported the SSA. Quite the opposite; he did nothing to push for it.

    I haven't consulted for Bensenville or other opponents for years. If I did still consult for them, I would say so publicly. But since I have no idea who you are, I guess I could ask you pays you?

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    It is sufficient to say, absolutely no government agency. On the other hand, you had previously disclosed your relationship to the politicians blocking O'Hare expansion.

    You didn't say that Ryan supported the SSA, but "do nothing to push it" doesn't mean he opposed it. I suppose we can both go back to research it, but my impression was that he was for the airport and the holdup was that JJJr, and local Will County authorities were fighting over control of it.

    Finally, if a private consortium is willing to walk in, they don't need Kirk's support to do it. That is, of course, unless they won't do it without FAA money. Since the FAA authorization is in limbo, maybe that's the issue, not your unfounded belief that Kirk is part of the Daley Combine.

  • I don't have to go back to research it, like you will. State approval was needed for the new airport and despite the state's long-standing endorsement of a new airport in the south suburbs or along the state line, George's failure to direct his administration to proceed was tantamount to opposition. George ran in opposition to O'Hare expansion, but once in office, he reversed himself and became an active supporter of it. With that switch, he fell in line with Daley's wishes, which was to "put a brick" on the SSA.

    Your "impression" that JJ Jr and Will County were fighting over it is correct, but Will County suddenly was opposed to it after JJ Jr. gave new life to the idea in conjunction with Bensenville and Elk Grove Village, the latter still being on the SSA board. Daley did not see the SSA as a threat to O'Hare expansion until then because he thought he had his bases covered until the idea (under George) no longer seemed moribund. Will County's opposition emerged after an election in which several Democrats were elected there with Daley's support. Word (I can't prove it, but the sources were credible enough to be believed) was that some of Rahm's (i.e. Daley's) troops worked the precincts there, just as some of Nick Blaze's Dem troops from Niles worked the east side of Park Ridge to oust anti-O'Hare expansion mayor Ron Wietecha.

    Perhaps one of the state's major public works projects (the SSA) doesn't need the junior senator's support, but he can make life difficult, witness what headaches Peter Fitzgerald caused Daley on O'Hare. And if you don't think that Kirk is ignorant of the politics and critical issues involving the state's airports, I've got a Bean to sell you. He learned from Fitzgerald about the power of the Combine. For someone who claims to be as astute and informed as yourself, you come off as quite naive.

    No it's not sufficient to say that you didn't work for a government agency. Your snipping on this and other CN sites from your dark corner imposes some degree of responsibility to say who you are if you have any courage. Your continuous and frequent posts made anonymously already says much about who you are.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    So be it. But I said what kind of "journalist" you are, and you certainly haven't refuted that. If you can make all sorts of inferences from "nonaction" and assumptions, good day.

    And, besides:
    1) Some guy named Anonymous on CTA Tattler already figured it out, but I guess you can't.

    2) I am enough of authority on the subject to know that there is a First Amendment right to post anonymously. You have the right to take it down, but since you don't, that's all you get.

    3) I guess the posters on Chicago Now are too godlike to take sniping,or even have their lack of logic challenged. At least you, the children at the Chicago Muckrakers, and one lawyer more worried about his income than anything else think so. All I assure you is that I do not have a conflict of interest, and I do not post about the company with which I have a loose association.

    4) Maybe I should just hit you in the pocketbook, remove your bookmark, decrease your click count, and let you speak just to the acolytes. I treat Zorn in that manner. In fact, I just did.

  • Jack, my lad,

    Journalist: BA from Marquette in Journalism and Political Science. Chicago Daily News: 1965 to 1978, reporter, assistant financial editor, urban affairs writer. Chicago Sun-Times: Transportation writer, science and technology writer, editorial board member, op-ed columnist. Freelance writer/editor, Tribune op-ed contributing op-ed columnist.

    1. Why should I waste my time trying to figure you out?
    2.You have no credentials.
    3. "At least you, the children at the Chicago Muckrakers, and one lawyer more worried about his income than anything else think so." What does that mean? Even as a sentence fragment it doesn't make sense.
    4.I don't get paid by the number of hits. You'll have to rave elsewhere. That was your last post.

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