The once-promising political career of Jesse Jackson, Jr., seems about to crash and burn, amid allegations of scandal, financial impropriety, and controversy.
The son of Civil Rights activist Jesse Jackson, seemed to have all the tools needed to become an excellent lawmaker. It is too bad he squandered them on himself and his lavish lifestyle rather than for the benefit of the people who needed him--the people who elected him to serve their needs.
Now, according to local, regional, and even national reports, Jackson is the target of a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe into his financial dealings, and more.
All this is very odd, given that just days ago Jackson handily won re-election in a near landslide victory in his bid to retain his job as congressman in the 2nd Congressional district. Despite Jackson's whereabouts being a secret for months prior to the election, either his constituents were overly loyal to him or they simply voted along racial lines. Most assume the latter, since Jackson has little to show for his years in congress. Racism in some of the poorest black neighborhoods on Chicago's south side is well known. Jackson did little to change that and in fact tried to use it to his advantage.
Jackson spent his entire political career grabbing for the brass ring. Instead of trying to make a name for himself by working hard and revitalizing one of the poorest regions of the country and solving real problems there, Jackson's efforts centered on his own need for self aggrandizement. Often times, it was at others' expense. This was evidenced by the biggest promise he made to his constituents--his effort to solve their economic woes by supporting the construction of one of the biggest projects in Illinois history--Chicago's third airport.
An effort by chambers of commerce on Chicago's south side in 1985 culminated in 1992 when a committee of leaders from Illinois and Indiana as well as the City of Chicago rejected what has become known as the Peotone Airport, so named because its close proximity to Peotone, a small rural town in eastern Will County, about 40 miles south of Chicago.
Two years later, the project was revived by then Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, who once lived in the southern suburbs. At the time there were only two pockets of support for the project--the south suburbs and the western suburbs that bordered O'Hare International Airport. O'Hare neighbors considered a new airport as their solution to O'Hare expansion, which they opposed.
In 1995 the point man who would bridge the gap between the two regions was an energetic, articulate new south suburban congressman, Jesse Jackson, Jr., who filled the unexpired term of U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds who had been arrested in a sex scandal involving an underage campaign worker.
It wasn't long before Jackson glommed onto the project, making it the centerpiece of his congressional career. He lobbied several Illinois governors who tried to hold onto the prospect of trying to duplicate the state's prized economic engine--O'Hare Airport--even at the expense of that prize, the project never really gained footing. The City of Chicago was on the other side, opposing a new airport. Jackson formed his own airport authority with the hope of controlling, managing, and building an airport.
The longtime and sometimes raucous opposition didn't daunt Jackson nor his supporters. Jackson also ignored the growing problems of his district in order to seize the opportunity to land the big project. He promised that the airport would be a boon to their economy, would lift people from poverty and provide thousands of jobs. They believed him.
Jackson continued singing the same song to his constituents and his colleagues in congress, always painting a rosy image and coloring facts. Then he saw an opportunity to help his cause and better his career--a seat in the U.S. Senate--vacated when Barack Obama was elected 44th President of the United States.
That is when Jackson's problems began. In addition to an extra-marital affair, one of the many investigations into his financial dealings involved suspicion that he offered a huge sum money to ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich in return for appointing him to Obama's senate seat. The emissary who apparently made the offer--Rughuveer Nyak--was arrested by the FBI last June.
Incidentally Blagojevich was arrested on several counts of corruption in December '08 and is currently serving time in a federal prison in Colorado. Blagojevich's predecessor, George Ryan, who also worked with Jackson on the proposed build-the-airport project is also serving time in a federal penitentiary for his corruption while in office.
In 2011 the Congressional Ethics Committee found probable cause to continue to investigate Jackson.
Shortly after Nyak was arrested, in June 2012, Jackson disappeared from public view. He wasn't at his campaign office in Chicago nor was he tending to his duties in Washington. It was later learned that he had a medical condition. Apparently Jackson is suffering from a bi-polar disorder and gastro-intestinal issues related to a previous weight-loss surgery. The public learned after months of not knowing of his whereabouts that he spent some seeking treatment at Mayo Clinic.
There is little sympathy for Jesse Jackson, Jr., by residents of eastern Will County, where lives have been upended for decades because of the turmoil suffered at Jackson's hand.
The people of what had been the 11th congressional district despised Jackson's efforts to claim their area as his own fiefdom. They have been pawns in his game or airport roulette. At their expense, his efforts were somewhat legitimized when the state legislature redrew the 2010 redistricting map. The boundaries of the 2nd congressional district were moved to include much of Will and Kankakee counties.
It is too bad the man is ill, if he really is ill, but it is also too bad that his actions have destroyed lives, land, and hopes of so many. It is too bad Jackson didn't use his skills for good rather than evil.
For that, he needs to pay restitution, even if it is with his own freedom.
Friday, November 16, 2012
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
|Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s original congressional photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Jackson had been virtually missing from view for weeks until it was finally learned that he had a serious medical condition that required him to stay in the hospital.
According to news accounts., he has had visits, not only from members of his family, but also former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Each indicated that Jackson has a ways to go before returning to work, if he does return to work.
For what is now adding up to months, Jackson has been absent from the U.S. Congress. For the first several weeks, it was unknown just where and why he was gone. Wild speculation about rehab from drugs and alcohol, running off to a mistress, and other sordid explanations were rampant; they were all denied by family members.
Apparently Jackson is suffering from severe depression associated with his condition.
|Illinois State Capitol |
(Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)
I can only wonder. Does Jackson's depression have anything to do with guilt about his behavior toward the innocent landowners in eastern Will County--the same folks which he has targeted for years. Following in a path laid out by his predecessors, Jackson tread on the people of eastern Will County as he pursued a pathetic idea--a third Chicagoland airport--that had been rattling around the Illinois General Assembly, in real estate circles, and in the leadership of the south suburbs since the 1960's. Jackson made it his own. It is unclear whether he believed the things he said about the vast economic potential of the project or if he simply was playing a role similar to that of a used car salesman or sleazy televangelist.
Either way, Jackson placed his own potential political spotlight far above the innocent people forced to deal with his political games. He wasn't even accountable to them until he convinced the Illinois General Assembly to right the wrong he did. When the legislative maps were redrawn, Jackson finally became the congressman of the district that included the airport footprint. Even before he got that done, Jackson played with the innocent people of eastern Will County as though they were merely the pawns in his life-altering chess game.
Most people would be conflicted by trying to better themselves at the expense of hundreds and perhaps thousands of innocent people. Perhaps Jackson really knows that his efforts to build a South Suburban Airport are futile and that the project itself is unnecessary.
I'd like to think that what he has done to people that were completely undeserving of his assault, has caused him angst. His accountability would humanize him.
Jackson has staked his entire political career on this one big issue. Who knows what might have occurred, had he pursued other, perhaps smaller, but more achievable projects?
An airport is the ultimate. The model of O'Hare International Airport, if duplicated, could be the one big development that would satisfy any politician's dreams. Starry-eyed at best, any objective view will show that O'Hare in the 1960's will not / can not be duplicated. That was a one-time bonanza, never to be repeated.
I'm sorry. I don't want to see anyone suffer. I feel empathy for my fellow human beings. Perhaps that explains why I got involved in the State of Illinois' battle to take private land for an unproven publics works project in the first place. The more I became educated about the lunacy of pursuing the building of another airport in the 1980's, the more suffering I have seen at the hand of state and local government. There has been untold suffering.
Perhaps this hospital stay is a good time for Jackson to take account--to consider all of the things he could have done--rather than pursuing the development of an unneeded airport. He should think about the harm he has caused to innocent people, their families, and their neighborhoods. Most of the damage was done before Jackson even represented the people of eastern Will County. Now he is their congressman. He should make amends, apologize to them. He should leave them alone, and stop beating the dead horse that is the Peotone Airport.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
|U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.|
Marin expressed that Jackson owes an explanation to the people who first hired him as their representative in 1994 and who wants to be rehired for a tenth time in November.
Further, Jackson's famous father Jesse Jackson is a public figure. His wife, Sandi is a Chicago Alderman, making her a public figure as well. Why are they not disclosing the whereabouts and reasons behind Jackson's disappearing act?
On Monday, Jackson's office released a statement that claimed Jackson is suffering from exhaustion, which his office says began June 10.
Curiously, that was just 10 days before Jackson's fundraiser pal, Raghuveer Nayak was hauled out of his home by the FBI and arrested for participating in an alleged kickback scheme involving a number of surgical centers he owns. He was tied to Jackson when Nayak was said to be Jackson's emissary, in offering ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich money in return for Blagojevich's naming Jackson to the U.S. Senate seat formerly occupied by President Barack Obama. Jackson has denied involvement in such a scheme.
Jackson has also claimed his innocence to U.S. ethics investigators who are looking into his using his congressional staff in the fundraising for Blagojevich. The ethics panel is also questioning the ethics behind Nayak's purchasing an airline ticket for Jackson's lady friend. Jackson claims that personal and private matter was not a violation of the House ethics either.
These are not isolated incidents. There have been several issues related to Jackson's proposed Peotone Airport that have been bothersome. Several are outlined in a previous CHBlog post, House ethics committee needs to dig deep into Jackson's dealings.
To those who have watched Jackson use every trick in the book, including bullying tactics, in his quest to build an airport in eastern Will County, Jackson will get little sympathy, no matter what his affliction. Few believe the story that he has any affliction at all; they think he is simply in hiding, either trying to wait out the storm at the very least, or more likely trying to figure a way out of the mess he seems to have gotten himself into.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
It is indeed ironic that Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. would complain about ex-governor Rod Blagojevich "wheeling and dealing."
Note the following from an April 15 column in the Southtown Star, "Jesse Jr. re-emerges in Blagojevich case." by Kristen McQueary.
Months after Blagojevich's December 2008 arrest, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd), of Chicago, told me it was impossible to interact with Blagojevich without "him wheeling and dealing and trying to extract something out of you."
Blagojevich reportedly told Jackson early on that he didn't hire his wife, Sandi, as lottery director because her application wasn't accompanied by a $25,000 campaign donation. Jackson said he turned to federal prosecutors for help when private developers willing to build a south suburban airport experienced Blagojevich's extortion.
"I have worked with four governors," Jackson said back then. "It wasn't until I came into contact with the Blagojevich administration that they sought to shake down the developers. (Blagojevich's) behavior was so unacceptable to me that I took that information to the U.S. attorney because how can we build our state if every time someone wants to invest and create jobs, they have to go through a political gauntlet of 'gimme, gimme, gimme?' "
"Jackson's interpretation was ironic considering that he emerges, again, in the government documents released Wednesday," McQueary said.
Ironic indeed, but let's take that one step farther. The irony is that Jackson complained about Blagojevich doing what he himself has been doing for years. His entire motive for building a new airport near Peotone was about gimme, gimme, gimme.
Jackson is all about control of contracts, concessions, votes, and whatever else might be beyond my imagination.
Many suspect that Jackson got his nose out of joint because Blagojevich didn't satisfy his needs. His wife didn't get the political job he wanted for her—heading the state lottery—and he didn't he get approval for his pet project. So he complained to the authorities.
Both Jackson and Blagojevich are poster children for what is wrong in Illinois politics.
But, if you ask me, Blagojevich shaking down fat cats is far less bothersome than Jackson trying to feather his own nest off the backs of innocent people.
Jackson has misrepresented the truth to his own colleagues to make Peotone look viable, manipulated facts by making people think a runway will solve economic woes in his district, and tried his own version of shaking down four governors, with the promise to deliver votes.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Peotone Airport anti-airport rally participants--photo by D. Rodeghiero
Like an alcoholic, who can never touch the stuff again for fear of reawakening destructive tendencies that threaten inner peace, such is my addiction to the Peotone Airport debate. Compounded by obsessive leanings, I may never be free.
Monday, April 16, 2012
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.
Residents of eastern Will County are planning a celebration of their rural life, agriculture, and Mother Earth on the day before the designated Earth Day, on April 21.
It will be at the site of the proposed Peotone Airport. Their celebration will include a 'stop the airport rally' and a parade.
Coincidentally, that just so happens to be the same day that U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is planning what local residents deem a "fake groundbreaking," on the site of what Jackson hopes will one day be the Abraham Lincoln National Airport.
Friday, March 23, 2012
What's worse than Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s remarks about there being nothing in the Peotone Airport site but tumbleweed?
What's worse is Jackson's unfettered ego which knows no bounds. During the same interview where he insulted Peotone area landowners by ignoring their existence, and their wishes, he has now planned to turn Earth Day into a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for his beloved Peotone Airport project.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s election-night bravado included a statement during an interview that has the residents of eastern Will County seething.
During an interview following Jackson's victory in the Democratic primary challenge where he handily defeated ex-Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, Jackson told WLS-TV reporter Paul Meincke that the site of the airport he wants to build currently contains nothing but tumbleweed?
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I can no longer say that an airport will never be built in eastern Will County, my mantra since 1987.
|U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. |
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Losing the Illinois primary election Tuesday, March 20 might have taken the wind out of Jackson’s sails, with regard to his Peotone Airport obsession, an obsession he claims he doesn’t have. A Jackson defeat might have ended the folly of the Peotone Airport.
We will never know though, because he won; he won very handily. I’m sure this win has given him a new zeal. I fear he will be like Pac Man after swallowing a power pill.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
One of the worst elements in our Democracy, in my view, is the ability to buy an election. This is really nothing new. As the amount of money spent on campaigns escalates, so does my ire. It seems that funding is the single-most determining factor in picking our leaders. But wait…there could be some redeeming qualities about Super PACs.
On their face, I have not changed my opinion. But this year has been so outrageous, so over-the-top, so outlandish, that I can’t help but see not only a little humor in this situation, but a little poetic justice as well.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Will County Executive Larry Walsh, a Democrat and Will County Board Chairman Jim Moustis, a Republican, seem to have joined forces, on the same side for once.
When U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. started shooting off his mouth about a deal with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to build the long-beleaguered Peotone Airport, Moustis wrote a letter to Quinn.
“You will not dump on us,” Moustis told the governor.
Moustis continued by saying he did not want Will County to be treated like second-class citizens. He said Will County would fight all the way. He referred to governance of a potential airport.
They are nothing but hypocrites
Why do Moustis and Walsh refuse to see that what they are complaining about are the same things residents of eastern Will County have been experiencing at their hand for more than 25 years?
Their costly shenanigans, borne by the taxpayers of Will County, to hire lobbyists and consultants, for example, is designed to result in an airport the airlines say they won’t use, a majority of the citizens countywide don’t want, and aviation experts say will be an unsuccessful business venture. Yet they continue to pursue it. It is now like a game with them—a game of one upsmanship—between them and Jackson at the citizens’ expense.
They are arguing over controlling something that may never exist. The airport remains unapproved by the Federal Aviation Administration. The U.S. Transportation Secretary dismisses it.
Gee Jim, it is hell to be treated that way
I know what Moustis must be feeling. It really is hell to be treated like a second class citizen.
I no longer live in Illinois, but I will never forget what it was like to stand before those people—to testify against the proposed Peotone Airport.
Some of those 27 board members weren’t even courteous enough to listen to what I and others had to say. Their blank-stares and nose-in-the air expressions couldn’t wait to dismiss us. Rarely have I ever experienced such unpleasantness as in trying to reason with public officials. It is no wonder regular people steer clear of public meetings and have such a bad taste in their mouth about politics.
It is too bad Will County didn’t listen to reason all those years ago. I wonder what might have come of eastern Will County had so much energy and resources not been squandered chasing the Peotone folly. Will County could have found fame and fortune by using its own resources had there been leadership and intellect. Perhaps eastern Will County could have set a world-class example for organic farming; Del Monte or some other company could have built a plant there and begun processing a new line of heirloom tomato products; or perhaps grapes grown in Will County soil could become the basis of a new Eastern Will County wine. Alternative energy, such as wind or solar or something brand new could be developed there. The sky’s the limit, but instead these fools decided to chase a 1968 project.
I’m really sorry you are being treated like a second-class citizen Jim.
Monday, January 23, 2012
A voice of reason has finally crept into the Peotone Airport debate.
The pure voice of reason, so often muffled, finally echoed throughout Illinois media recently. It was that of Michael Boyd, a Colorado aviation consultant of Boyd Group International, Inc., the company co-founded by Boyd in 1984.
Boyd who began his aviation career at American Airlines in 1971 has an independent philosophy that rings throughout his company. That quality has catapulted the Boyd Group to become one of the most respected voices in the industry.
Boyd is not a political pundit. He is not a mouthpiece for proponents of building a new airport near Peotone which has traditionally filled countless pages of newspapers for as many years. Instead, Boyd is an independent aviation expert, which is not normally associated with the Peotone project. Perhaps that explains why newspapers from all over the state have picked up an Associated Press story recently that quoted Boyd as he warned against proceeding with a new airport near Peotone.
For this one story, headlines were varied; each told the story in its own way. Headlines included: “Aviation consultant predicts losses for proposed Peotone airport project; Would Peotone be next airport boondoggle?; and Critic says third airport could be fiasco.”
|MidAmerica St. Louis Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
No matter what the headline, the message was clear. Claims that a Peotone airport would be some kind of panacea for the State of Illinois in general and the south suburbs in particular is nothing but a bunch of hooey. Rarely has there been a news story about this project that wasn’t spun out of a positive press release issued by the Illinois Department of Transportation, governor’s office or worse yet, by one of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s cohorts.
This was an honest, indisputable airport story and it was damning.
From what I could glean, the first story was reported in the Bloomington Pantagraph, and picked up from there. It quoted Michael Boyd as saying the Peotone airport could be a “major fiasco” similar to MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in southwestern Illinois. He called MidAmerica “a monument to dishonest planning.” Last year, MidAmerica Airport posted an operating loss of nearly $12 million, according to the Pantagraph.
Countless other people, including myself, have said the same thing for years, but coming from an aviation consultant of Boyd’s caliber, the facts are worth listening to.
Boyd’s comments were prompted by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn saying a compromise to move the Peotone Airport planning were forthcoming. He referred to a compromise in the governing of the project, not the need for the project, which remains unproven.
As Boyd points out, Illinois has seen a 10-percent drop in the number of people traveling to and from its nine airports. Routes are being cancelled, and arguably the largest carrier, American Airlines’ parent company AMR Corp. recently filed for bankruptcy protection.
Of the Peotone project, Boyd also categorized it as a “solution looking for a problem.” He says it is a political project fueled more by politics than need.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
|Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.|
Headlines indicated recently that Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is still being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for his alleged role in trying to leverage a seat in the U.S. Senate by offering funds to ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Jackson claims that neither he nor his emissaries ever offered money to ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for the appointment.
Can we believe Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his less than monogamous relationship with the truth?
If the House members believe that Jackson’s role in allegedly trying to buy a U.S. Senate seat is an isolated incident, I certainly hope they probe just a little deeper.
Jackson not only tried to coerce Blagojevich into handing over a seat in the United States Senate, but Jackson also tried to get Blagojevich to hand over land to his self-established airport authority for his pet project, the Peotone Airport.
Jackson has devoted his entire congressional career toward the State of Illinois’ ill-fated effort to build a new airport outside the 2nd congressional district. The latest redistricting, would finally place the Peotone area into Jackson’s grasp. That is, if he wins re-election, which only time and ultimately an election can determine.
Jackson’s campaign website once blatantly included Peotone in a list of communities in the second congressional district. After much criticism, he later corrected it.
In 2007, I was tuned-in to C-Span to watch Jackson’s performance as he sought an earmark of $231,000 in the Financial Services Appropriations bill for “minority and small business development and procurement opportunities.” Jackson painted his usual rosy picture of the proposed airport, which Jackson has dubbed the Abraham Lincoln National Airport. He began talking about how beneficial the project would be to the poorest people of Illinois.
I was angered when I heard Jackson tell his colleagues the airport would abut Ford Heights, one of the poorest community in Illinois. Ford Heights is in Jackson’s district. It is a poor, urban, predominantly black community. It has long been a high crime, blighted area, with high unemployment. In stark contrast, the area where the airport is proposed, is a relatively affluent, predominantly white farming community with low crime and virtually no unemployment. Its economy centers on agriculture. Not only are the two regions geographically far apart, but they might as well be worlds apart politically, socially, and economically. The people who live in the Peotone area are adamantly opposed to the airport Jackson touts. I know. I helped organize an opposition group against the project in 1988.
One of the critics of Jackson’s request earmark was, Congressman John Campbell, R-CA who introduced an amendment to the bill to ban Jackson’s earmark, calling Jackson’s request “federal funding for a phantom airport.”
Campbell’s bill would have stripped taxpayer funding for the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission because, as he stated the Abraham Lincoln National Airport doesn’t exist.
He pointed out that in a Jackson press release in Nov. 2006, Jackson said he would not seek federal funds for the airport.
Campbell also questioned the potential conflict in the dual role of Jackson’s Deputy District Administrator Richard Bryant, who is now Jackson’s Chief of Staff. Bryant is also the Executive Director for the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission (ALNAC) that Jackson established.
Back in Illinois, ex-Congressman Jerry Weller, R-Morris, in whose district the proposed project would be located, called ALNAC into question when it raised $267,000 to lobby Blagojevich. Weller called the campaign “self-promotion,” because Jackson was eyeing a possible run for the Chicago Mayor’s office. Weller suggested the money be returned “to the impoverished communities.”
Jackson had envisioned that state-owned land, about half of what the state needs for the airport, could be simply turned over to Jackson’s airport commission. An opinion by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, however, issued an opinion that under Illinois law, the state cannot convey property at no cost or for less than fair market value.
These issues are likely just the tip of the iceberg, which is why an intense investigation is warranted.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
|Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.|
Jesse Jackson, Jr. continues to make the claim that he can deliver a shovel-ready airport at no cost to the taxpayers. He refers to the unsuccessful project that dates back to 1968 and is known as the Peotone Airport. The State of Illinois calls it the South Suburban Airport. Jackson calls it the Abraham Lincoln National Airport. Make no mistake, none of these projects are close to becoming a shovel-ready project at no cost to the taxpayers.
In a recent rah-rah speech in Kankakee, at the southern reaches of Jackson’s newly-drawn second congressional district at a meeting of the NAACP, Jackson made this outlandish statement.
I’d like Jackson to explain how a project could be shovel ready when more than half of the land needed for a new airport remains in the hands of landowners unwilling to sell to the state. Or, how does he consider a project shovel-ready when it hasn’t even gained approval by the Federal Aviation Administration? And how can it be shovel-ready when a general aviation airport that is privately owned and sanctioned by the FAA—Bult Field--already operates in the footprint of the airport Jackson wants to build?
I’d also like Jackson to explain how his pet project would not cost the taxpayers. Oh he claims to have developers who will put up their own money to build the Peotone Airport. But the construction of the facility is hardly the only cost to building an airport—one in the cornfields 40 miles south of the City of Chicago. It would be a facility surrounded by rural land which is serviced by well and septic systems. It would be located amid creeks and streams that tend to overflow during heavy rain. Who will pay to build the infrastructure needed to service an airport in the cornfields if not the taxpayers?
How does Jackson explain buying the remainder of the land, if not at the taxpayers’ expense? Or how can Jackson forget about the tens of millions of dollars already spent on this ill-conceived, folly. Former Illinois Transportation Secretary Kirk Brown once estimated the state had spent $100 million on the project. That was during his tenure with the state. He retired in 2002. I can guarantee the bills certainly didn’t retire with him. The state has continued to wrack up costs for state-sponsored studies, land acquisition, legal fees, consultants, public relations work, etc.
That was just the past. Future cost to the taxpayers will continue to be thrown at this dead-end project in the form of infrastructure, additional land acquisition costs, and guaranteed legal fees to fight all the innocent landowners who have been under pressure to sell their property since this project began.
It all sounds like the same kind of jive talk we’ve been hearing for years. I don’t believe it for one moment.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Interestingly Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. finally came to Peotone, the place he has been talking about for 18 years, the place that has been the focal point of his congressional tenure, the place he wants to decimate and urbanize.
Now that Jackson’s new congressional district has been redrawn, it includes the land where the proposed Peotone Airport has been tentatively sited. The remap is a victory in itself for Jackson, who has long tried to mislead people into believing it has always been in his district. See Jesse Jackson needs a geography lesson.
It is almost laughable how Jackson has tried to schmooze the farmers whose land he wants for his pet project, into thinking he gives a damn about them, the land they work, or their rural way of life. He doesn’t. They are only a mean to his end. He wants only to use them to get what he wants—political power over jobs, contracts and ultimately campaign cash.
Jesse Jackson, Jr. had to talk hard and fast to get this audience of eastern Will County farmers to listen to what he had to say; he carefully crafted his words to try to reach them. Yet what he actually said might have the same effect as that which these farmers spread on their fields to help the crops grow. Jackson probably decided prior to the visit, that the best way to reach them was to emulate his conservative colleagues which he loathes, since most of these farmers traditionally cast a Republican ballot. I’m sure he did his homework and learned that many of them sympathize with the tea party movement. Jackson is too arrogant to consider that he has little chance of winning them over.
As a longtime advocate for these folks keeping their land out of Jackson’s hands, I resent Jackson’s inference that he understands their lifestyle. His talk of praying for sun and rain, joking about driving a combine, and drawing first a comparison with his African-American ancestors who picked cotton in the south and later with the people of Iowa he met along the campaign trail, was insincere and likely ineffectual. Try as he might to get into their good graces, I doubt it worked.
It is offensive that Jackson would try to take advantage of religion and culture to worm his way into the hearts and minds of the local farmers in eastern Will County. These are good people, with too much dignity to tell the congressman what they really feel. I can almost guarantee they will never vote for him, no matter how many stories he tells them about how he understands their plight.
The one thing he did offer that might give them pause was his promise of a “fair market exchange” for those who are willing to sell their land to the state. Closer evaluation will show this to be a ruse as well.
First, Jackson promised that if they became willing sellers, they would receive fair market value. Anyone could make that promise since that is the law. But he also said they could farm the land for free until the land is needed. On one hand, Jackson claims construction could begin by June. Even Jackson knows that isn’t doable. So he is dangling the carrot on the end of the free farming stick. It was an interesting ploy, given that farmers are businessmen like everyone else in this faltering economy. Jackson also knows that for some the fight might be out of them after all these years since the Peotone Airport was first proposed in the 1960’s but heavily marketed since the 1980’s.
“An airport will be built on that land,” Jackson said, speaking of the needed state-owned land which represents less than half of what is needed. No doubt, that is as he sees it, yet his view seems to be shared by less people every year as support for the airport dwindles.
His flim-flam guarantee for the opportunity to farm the land for free is simply not his to make. While Jackson acts as though he and his self-appointed airport authority, ALNAC (Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission) owns this project. It does not. It hasn’t even been approved by the FAA at this point. No decision will be made for years since the perpetual studies continue. Jackson is a U.S. Congressman unaffiliated with the State of Illinois, yet he continues to behave as though he has the right to negotiation with landowners for the State of Illinois. He has no such right.
The bottom line is that if Jackson thinks he is going to convince farmers in eastern Will County that they should voluntarily sell their land for an airport they don’t want for the sake of jobs in the south suburbs, Jackson is delusional.
I will at least give Jackson credit for finally coming face-to-face with Peotone-area farmers. Because his adversaries appear polite, easy-going, reserved, and all the other attributes the good people of the Peotone area possess, Jackson probably thinks winning them over will be a cake walk. That shows how little he really knows about the farm community.
Jackson’s visit can be viewed thanks to willcountynews.com.
Monday, October 10, 2011
It is no surprise that Debbie Halvorson plans to run again for Congress--in the newly-drawn 2nd congressional district. The seat happens to be held by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., her former colleague with whom she battled during her last tenure in congress.
Halvorson served in the 11th district which abutted Jackson’s 2nd district. Since the maps have been redrawn, his district now encompasses much of the territory in her former district. She was defeated, at the conclusion of her first term, by newcomer U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger.
Halvorson is a long shot. She rode into office in 2008 on President Barack Obama’s coattails. The hugely popular Republican takeover by the tea party in 2010 swept her back out of office.
Halvorson’s announcement to run again is no surprise because that is what politicians do when they lose. The truth of the matter is that there are rarely losers in politics, especially in Illinois politics. Once connections are made, promises given, and bucket loads of cash ensures ‘a friend in the factory,’ often times the same people run over and over again, sometimes for the same and sometimes for other posts. When it becomes impossible to convince the public to vote for them, they are usually appointed to a government job. It is as if holding elected office is the step to getting a high-paying cushy government job with all the benefits the taxpayers will give.
Halvorson wanted to be named Illinois transportation secretary, but Illinois governor Pat Quinn appointed someone else. So, for now, Halvorson will have to forego the big bucks political job in favor of being a congresswoman, if she can convince the public.
The Peotone Airport battleWhile the two were colleagues, Halvorson and Jackson battled over the proposed Peotone Airport, but not the fight that should have been waged. As the project was located in the 11th congressional district, Halvorson should have represented her constituents, the majority of which have proven countless ways that they opposed the airport. Instead, she chose to pay her allegiance to the unions in Joliet who salivated over perceived jobs and contracts. She sided with the huge concrete and asphalt companies who contributed campaign cash over the people who only had their votes to give.
Her battle with Jackson was over who would control an airport if and when it was built.
Both took a pro-airport position despite Halvorson’s first public position being against it.
In 1996, Halvorson was a virtual unknown in the political realm. She was a Mary Kay salesperson and Crete Township Clerk. She rose to political stardom in 1996, however when she defeated the popular Senate Majority Leader Aldo DeAngelis.
Halvorson was once anti-airport
Halvorson ran as a no-airport candidate. I know because I was at her campaign headquarters that night. I and many others were elated when this seemingly down-to-earth woman who was on our side, defeated the godfather of the Peotone Airport. Little did we know that the minute she set foot in the capital in Springfield that she would a DeAngelis clone.
Saying all the right things to all the right people, Halvorson ascended rapidly to become Illinois’ first Senate Majority leader.
It will be interesting to watch the battle between these two. As far as I’m concerned—they are evenly matched. Neither has been able to get what they want.
Just days into her campaign and already Halvorson is sniping about Jackson’s ethical issues, which includes a House investigation over Jackson’s alleged attempt to buy Obama’s senate seat and his marital infidelity. Political theater is always a spectator sport.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
It appears that U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., (D-Chicago) won't have to lie aboutwhere the proposed Peotone Airport is located. It will finally be in his district.
Jackson has certainly been less than honest about the Peotone Airport, his pet project for the last decade. His insinuation that it was in Illinois' second congressional district, his district has been around so long that even newspapers have wrongly reported it. Truth is, all this time, the proposed Peotone airport has been in the 11th congressional district. We have all seen that when politicians tell a lie often enough, the truth sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.
Jackson lied to his colleagues on the House floor with the claim that the proposed airport is next to Ford Heights, one of the poorest suburbs in the State of Illinois. (see stories below). His aim was to push through earmarks attached to a spending bill.
The truth is the Peotone project is far enough from Ford Heights that it would likely have no effect on the jobless there.
Now, it looks like Jackson will finally be getting his way. If the redistricting plan put forth by Illinois Democrats is approved, and it looks as if it will, Jackson's district will encompass the proposed airport site as well as the small farming towns that surround it.
If the people of eastern Will County complained before about their congressional representation, I fear they haven't seen anything yet.
What does Jesse Jackson, Jr. know about farming, soil and water conservation, growing crops, small town living, or any of the other things that will make such a city mouse totally out of his element in the country. The result of this out-of-character pairing will likely be that he simply ignores the will of the people of eastern Will County. Then again, that is nothing new, since he already has a history of trying to steamroll their rights and dismiss their wishes as he advocates taking their land so he can shove an unneeded airport down their throats.
Public officials in eastern Will County will also likely be void of representation. While mayors and their boards have had a decent rapport with their representatives, this will be a whole new ballgame. Many of the mayors have had scathing things to say about Jackson. Now he will be their representative.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
One of the obstacles facing the State of Illinois in their effort to build a new airport near Peotone, is a 100-year old man named Anthony Rudis.
I know Tony Rudis and believe him to be a formidable opponent. He is right about his claims in a recent newspaper interview. He said IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) is harassing him.
That is their modus operandi. They have harassed the people of eastern Will County for years, dating back to the days I first started following this project, back in 1987.
They forge on despite never getting the go-ahead from the Federal Aviation Administration. Nor does the State of Illinois have the funds to build an airport—funds which are grossly underestimated—because the estimates do not take into account the millions of dollars of infrastructure that would be needed to transform a farming community into a transportation center. In addition, a new airport has never been proven as a necessity for the Chicago region, though numerous state-sponsored studies make that assumption. Finally, despite politicians' claim that without airline partners the airport will never be built. They ignore the airlines' declaration that they will not use an airport at Peotone. Since 1985, this project has remained in a perpetual study phase.
Rudis says it is wrong to use eminent domain to try take property or to threaten to do so even before the Federal Aviation Administration has given the project a green light.
Yet, IDOT continues to try.
Rudis has put his foot down, by not allowing the state to trample onto his property or his rights. He refuses to allow IDOT contractors onto his property to do another assessment of his property's worth. The agency sent out yet another series of letters recently claiming it is their right to inspect the premises in order to appraise his and other properties for the purposes of the airport study. Rudis is right in asking how many times they have to make their assessment. It has been done several times before. Nothing has changed.