Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Good blog about Peotone

It is nice to see this coming out of Chicago media. Peotone: Jesse Jackson, Jr. needs to stay the hell out of Will County.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peotone Airport rated G

The proposed Peotone Airport is like a game of cat and mouse—no, more like that of the fox and chicken house—as Will County officials and South Suburban Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. try to position themselves for the kill.

Picture a barnyard—the farm country in eastern Will County, Illinois.

Representing the free-range chickens whose freedom is in jeopardy, are the people of eastern Will County. The hens, roosters, and baby chicks are threatened, not only to be caged, but kicked out of the only yard they ever knew. The chicks own the yard. They are the law-abiding citizens who pay their taxes on time, don't believe in making trouble, and simply want to be left alone.

Most have spent their whole lives on the same ground. Some hatched from eggs in that very yard. They have grown up, laid eggs and raised broods of their own. Some of the chicks who live in the barnyard have come from other farms in faraway lands, but they love their yard and made it their own. They are all family now and don't want to be separated from the other chicks.

For a few years, the hens and roosters have noticed paw prints from the dreaded fox just outside the gate. Only recently did the fox dig beneath the fence to gain access to the yard, keeping the chicks scurrying to save their yard. And fox aren't the only predators after the chicks and their home. There are wolves and bear too.

The skulk of fox is led by two bipartisan leaders that usually tussle over territory. But in this case, they are both working together to gain control of the barnyard and all the chicks. The fox are public officials from Will County. One of the leaders is Jim Moustis, Republican County Board Chairman. The other is Larry Walsh, Democratic Executive Committee Chairman.

There are other predators beside fox. Its natural enemy, the wolf is also baying at the gate of the fence that encircles the hen house.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. is the lone wolf who wants to rule the barnyard. He wants to claim it for himself.

Both the fox and wolf are trying to control enough chicks so they can deliver for the big guy Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. He is the bear. He wants to reign supreme, but every four years, he is in jeopardy. If he doesn't get enough chicks, he could lose to the lion, the king of the jungle.

The bear has to keep a close eye on the fox and the wolves that in turn lord it over those pesky chickens. If he doesn't keep a tight reign on things, the fowl will try to take over the barnyard themselves. If that happened, new foxes and wolves that are beholden to the lion would reign.

The bear has to try to keep it all working to his advantage in order to rule the barnyard.

The big cats are already licking their chops because every four years, they too try to regain control of the barnyard. After all, it was guaranteed to them by the Constitution. The lion is the king of the jungle and would like nothing more than to take over this and all other barnyards in the state. The cats in the pride have funny names. One is called truth; another is justice. Another is called common sense.

For a time, the lion had control. One of the former bears, a guy named George Ryan, was a little too aggressive with the chicks. He lost his power over the barnyard and was eaten by the lions.

The lions work alone. They don't contract with fox and wolves like the bear does.

The moral of the story, don't let the foxes and wolves watch the chicken house.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mid-America St. Louis Airport lands Boeing plant, China traffic


Cash-strapped State of Illinois plans to sink another $2.3 million into a project at its largely-vacant airport — Mid-America St. Louis Airport — near downstate Mascoutah.

The state will give Chicago-based Boeing the cash to allow the aero-space manufacturing giant to set up shop at the 12-year old airport that has seen so little use during its tenure that from outer space it must resemble a giant paper weight.

The taxpayers of St. Clair County which have been footing bill to keep the airport open, as well as providing millions of dollars in incentives to spur air traffic, will also contribute $3.5 million to turn the unused cargo terminal into use for Boeing's defense program, employing about 75 people.

The lease has not been finalized with Boeing, but the St. Clair County Board has already approved its portion of the up-front cash. Boeing is expected to lease the facility and repay the investment over the next ten years as it opens a $7 million manufacturing plant.

County Board Chairman Mark Kern told the Belleville News Democrat that the board was comfortable that a company of the stature of Boeing has made a commitment to the area, and that they look forward to working with them.

Others, especially the taxpayers of St. Clair County, are a little more skeptical as evidenced by the more than three dozen comments that follow the online version of the story .

Mid-America could land Chinese trade route

Thursday, a cargo jet from China landed at Mid-America in a test run that could result in long-term cargo service from the East. The landing was considered a success. The plane's cargo shipment off-loaded onto trucks bound for cities throughout the country.

Five years ago, Mid-America established a Foreign Trade Zone, which provides special customs procedures to U.S. plants engaged in international trade.

Mid-America St. Louis has also become a U.S. Port of Entry to accommodate a customer that imports flowers and other perishables from South America. The county spent $3 million to outfit a cargo terminal with refrigeration.

The board is considering building another warehouse.

Competition across the river

In Missouri U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-MO and Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-MO are part of a delegation enroute to Beijing in an attempt to secure cargo opportunities between China and St. Louis' Lambert Field.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Nostalgic about food prices


I can still remember my first full time job as a checkout clerk at a grocery store. I worked at National Tea Company. I remember what some of those prices were. Sometimes while stocking up on groceries today, I have a flashback of the prices and wonder whatever happened to them? A gallon of whole milk cost $1.29; a jar of baby food was $.19; and a loaf of bread was $.29.

Those were the days. As an employee back then we had to do the math ourselves, counting out change to our customers. We were also taught that when making change, coins were placed into the customer's hand first, with paper money on top. Only then did we distribute the proper number of S & H green stamps. Remember those?

One of my pet peeves today is that such retail etiquette has disappeared. How many times have you had your change roll off the top of crinkled, unkempt dollar bills and onto the floor or under your car at a drive through?

But that little annoyance pales in comparison to how upsetting it is that the cost of food has risen so dramatically.

When my children were little, I really struggled. I carried a calculator and added costs as I went. I didn't want to be embarrassed at the checkout by having too little cash. Whatever happened to cash anyway? On the days that I forgot my calculator, I got by with estimating about $1 per food item, not counting meat. Today, that estimate falls far short. Practically nothing costs under $1.

So why does food cost so much more today? I suspect one of the reasons is to pay for all the advertising that is done. Commercials on television every few minutes has to be expensive.

I have an idea — STOP! Advertising is annoying. It doesn't teach us anything. It only tries to coerce us into buying a particular item, much like a con game. Advertising has destroyed our national pasttime, television viewing. But it also infiltrates every aspect of our lives. Cut advertising and lower our food prices. That would make me really happy.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Jury still out on Blogojevich case


Illinois Ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich looks just as dapper today as he did when this picture was taken in 2003 while he was still Illinois' governor. He made an appearance at Union Station in Joliet, IL to speak to an enthusiastic crowd of supporters.

Today, Blagojevich awaits a verdict by a jury of his peers after weeks of testimony was delivered in a federal court room in Chicago. Blagojevich stands accused of 24 charges, including racketeering for allegedly trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he won the Presidential election.

It is amazing that a man who is accused of acting in his own best interests over and above the very people he was supposed to represent, can still appear as cool as Blagojevich does during television appearances and in interviews.
At the time I took these photos, I was one of the people Blagojevich was supposed to represent, though I didn't feel very adequately represented.

I was among a small group at Union Station that afternoon, in an effort to lobby, and I use that term very loosely, against the state's plan to build a new airport, the South Suburban Airport, near the small town of Peotone, some 40 miles south of Chicago.

We did get noticed, thanks to the adoreable C.J. Ogalla, shown at right, who was just 7 at the time. She wrote a letter to Blagojevich. It was heartfelt and touching as it echoed the feelings her mother has expressed for years.

C.J. lives with her family on a working farm near where they want to build the airport. Her mother Judy has been an avid fighter for a long time, vowing she and her husband will never give up their family farm for a project that isn't needed. Blagojevich continued to support the airport while in office.

Blagojevich's latest criticism stems from the fact that he brought his daughters into the courtroom. Why not, he has consistency claimed he is innocent? It is not odd that he would want his family by his side to show their support for him. Besides, it would look good to members of the jury. And looking good is what Gov. Rod is all about.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Illinois officials wrong to force eminent domain at Peotone

I don't care how you slice it—government trying to seize people's property for their own amusement is just plain wrong.

Will Township Highway Commissioner Bruce Hamman and STAND (Shut This Airport Nightmare Down) President George Ochsenfeld who is also a Green Candidate for State Rep. in the 79th District express their views of the state's actions to tear down another livable home.
Yet that is just what is happening in Illinois, about 40 miles south of the City of Chicago as the Illinois Department of Transportation continues the folly of advocating for a new airport near Peotone.

Illinois officials are shameless as they try to coerce people out of their homes and property. It seems they especially like to target the elderly, going after those whose will has been worn down through the continuous struggles of everyday life during the past sixty, seventy, and eighty years. Aren't these the very people state officials should be fighting for rather than against?

Illinois Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Director Susan Shea is the state's mouthpiece who continues to rave about the benefits of a new airport; its need has never been proven. This is despite the efforts of five different state administrations at the helm—Governors Thompson, Edgar, Ryan, Blagojevich, and now Quinn. All of them have used their lieutenants to sell the project to the public, to the airlines, and to the Federal Aviation Administration. None of those crucial agencies or people have bought into the state's rosy information.

Eminent domain should be used for real projects

For Shea to threaten to use eminent domain to take people's property, for a project that hasn't even been approved by the federal government, seems almost criminal.

Susan Shea should be fired for bragging to newspapers about how this is a great time to go after property since the real estate market has been depressed and property values are lower.

Isn't the government supposed to work for the people, not for the whim of government authoritarians? The country and the state are struggling financially so it should invest wisely, but at the expense of shaking down the taxpaying public? The state is trying to usurp its power in every way it can to muscle people out of their property.

Hedging their bets

One of the state's ploys is to destroy neighborhoods. They have been doing it methodically since they demolished the first home in 2001. Perfectly good dwellings on beautiful land are being decimated for no good reason other than to further depress the property values. I wonder what one of Illinois' struggling homeless families would think if they saw the giant steel jaws rip into a perfectly livable home, turning it into a pile of rubble.

Anyone who lives in the State of Illinois should clamor for an end to the state's folly and the terrorist tactics to the people who live there.

Wouldn't the state be better served to rent properties rather than destroying them? And as the homes are leveled, the neighborhood continues to lose value, which plays into the state's hands as well.

The only benefit to actually building an airport would be to finally wipe it off the books with a check mark under 'look what we can do!' Wouldn't a bottle of white-out be more prudent?

Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent to try to sell this idea, not to mention the gazillion man-hours using highly-paid political operatives, consultants, lawyers, planners, map-makers, and so much more dating back to 1987. All this is for a little runway among the cornfields in eastern Will County—despite the same thing that already exists and is underserved at Gary and Milwaukee airports.  I would think there are better ways for Illinois officials to spend the people's money.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The road to Peotone along a path of corruption

Illinois State Capitol
Illinois State Capitol (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)

State of Illinois officials are enthusiastic about building the Illiana Expressway.

It is often referred as the road to Peotone, the ill-fated 1968-to-present proposal to build a new airport south of Chicago, and with good reason. At one time, the State of Illinois, Department of Transportation identified the road, now called the Illiana Expressway, as the northernmost access road to the Peotone Airport. Though it was considered by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority as the southernmost leg of Interstate 355, that portion was considered to be part of the airport project.

After watching several Illinois legislatures and governors botch the decision-making process favors its corrupt pay-to-play system during the 1980's and '90's, the Illiana project may come to fruition. If it does, of the three proposed routes, I predict the one chosen will ultimately mirror the one drawn onto maps of the South Suburban Airport (SSA) decades ago.

For the record, I dislike calling the project the South Suburban Airport. Its location is rural, far from the south suburbs. The name falsely paints a picture of prosperity for some of the most beleaguered towns in Illinois. To believe that a one-runway and terminal building 40 miles south of Chicago will benefit or even affect the south suburbs is akin to believing in the tooth fairy.

I believe the airport is dead and never had a chance of success, and that the Illiana Expressway is the state's fall-back position. Supporters of concrete and asphalt who thrive on decimating farm fields and small towns can probably learn to be content with a ribbon of pavement rather than the huge paved square they had hoped for. After all, politics is the art of compromise.

That doesn't mean they won't continue to try. The Peotone Airport is written into every report and drawn on every map at the local, state, and federal levels. Government can be diligent when it comes to rubber stamping their desires onto as many documents as they can create. The Peotone proposition is as prolific as the writing on bathroom walls. For anyone who thinks the state has gone on to other things, they may be surprised to learn that it still dominates the development-at-all-cost discussions in planning meetings, board rooms, and on legislative agendas. Illinois Department of Transportation officials are always looking for new ways to try to sell their pet project. That is difficult when the project has been around as long as Ziploc bags and Pringles potato chips.

For some odd reason, the politicos in Illinois refuse to let go of this dinosaur. Perhaps their habitual hanging on has gone on so long that they just don't know how to let go, despite numerous opportunities to do the right thing; walk away from the project. There have been ways to heroically turn toward other things—tend to more necessary projects—and at the same time, keep their politics in-tact. But they have refused to do it.

The players have seemingly changed over the many years, but the difference is indiscernible. A governor here, a congressman there; they are all cut from the same expensive cloth borne out of a culture of greed and corruption.

My biggest disappointment is that the power really does lie with the people who have the ability to cut them off at the voting booth. Yet, too few have bothered to get involved, educate themselves, and/or make the connection to what is wrong and who is making decisions.

One of those who did bother to get involved was John Walliser, a homebuilder from Lockport Township. He was one of the victims of the state's desire to build Interstate 355 who saw his house demolished despite the fact that it never was in the path of the tollway. He was largely responsible for the 1996 court order that halted construction of the road builders until the state complied with federal law.

In the following file, Walliser details the story of I-355 and the state's corrupt officials. He names names of the government officials involved in the state's endemic corruption, with a focus on Sen. Roland Burris, as Illinois Attorney General. Walliser shows that Burris manipulated the state's culture of pay-to-play corruption for his own benefit.

Walliser discusses the laws that were meant to safeguard the public but don't. Entitled The Long and Winding Road to Peotone , Walliser connects the I-355 debacle to the state's wrongful attempts to acquire property for an airport that is neither approved nor imminent. His compelling arguments cannot be ignored.

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