Monday, April 16, 2012

Airport opposition, not about race


Response to Algernon Penn, the Chairman of Friends of ALNAC, (Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission) the airport authority created by Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Penn submitted his comments to my blog post Pro-Anti-Peotone Airport forces plan separate events.

Algernon Penn, the Chairman of Friends of ALNAC, (Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission) the airport authority created by Jesse Jackson, Jr. Penn submitted his comment to my previous blog post Pro-Anti-Peotone Airport forces plan separate events.

Mr. Penn, with all due respect, your inference of racism—evidenced by the title of your response in this blog as “Battling economic segregation, the new movement for southland jobs--is blatantly innappropriate.



Further your categorization of people who want to protect their property from intrusion, as a tactic to segregate people, is way off the mark. Any narrow perceptions seem to be yours.

George Ochsenfeld and others have been fighting the State of Illinois’ efforts to build an unnecessary airport, that has no proven economic benefit, since the 1960’s, not just the last two decades. It has been only recently that Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. got involved. His decision to convert farmland--that was outside his own congressional district for the bulk of his term in congress—to benefit his constituents, is fairly new on the airport timeline. It is even more recent that Illinois Democrats redrew the map of the 2nd district to include the proposed Peotone footprint.

I take issue with your inference that George Ochsenfeld or anyone else associated with the opposition to the Peotone Airport has an ulterior motive related to racism. I’ve known George for years. He would have been the first person on that bus to give Rosa Parks his seat. So do not categorize him as someone who denies African-Americans, Latinos, and women the chance to support their families. Personally, I think you owe him an apology.

Why do you give no credence to airport jobs at the Gary/Chicago Airport which now enjoys airline services, or even the expanding Lansing Airport. Gary is closer to the south suburbs; Lansing is a south suburb. If jobs are all you are after, why would an imaginary state line make any difference?

Since you are so quick to point out that African American taxpayers have paid for state-owned land where the airport is proposed, are they also willing to spend the millions it would take to build roads, wells, sewers, and other airport accoutrements in eastern Will County that are needed to service a new airport? If it is built and airlines don’t use it, are African-American taxpayers willing to pay to keep it, even if it doesn’t provide jobs and economic benefit.

A viable farm community is far more important to the economy of the State of Illinois than a half-baked plan to build a runway in the middle of a cornfield.

Have you or Jackson considered studies that point to the benefit of growing local food in close proximity to a major city? Have you read about the high costs associated with urban sprawl? Have you studied the economic benefit of a healthy farming economy?

The reasons that a majority of residents of Will County, and eastern Will County in particular, oppose the proposed airport have nothing to do with race.

You want to create jobs? Why not build an agricultural school in the second district that can teach skills to urban area youth. Use the concept of: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.“

Teach the next generation how to feed an every-hungry world. Come up with a new and innovative idea that will fit into the existing agricultural community rather than simply trying to destroy it for your own gain.

This project has been on the drawing board for decades. Why do you think it never took off? Have you ever considered that it is a bad idea?