Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Politics and Peotone; Jackson defeats Halvorson

I can no longer say that an airport will never be built in eastern Will County, my mantra since 1987.

, member of the United States House of Represe...
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Politics can get things done, but there is no guarantee that what is done is good or right. Politicians can build bridges to nowhere and with enough support, they can create something out of nothing. That is what Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. has attempted to do for the past 17 years.

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.

English: , member of the United States House o...
English: , member of the United States House of Representatives. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, who challenged Jackson for his seat in congress, tried to persuade voters that she was different. Trouble is she isn’t very different at all. In many ways the two share similar views. Even with regard to the Peotone Airport, they both support it. The only distinction between them lies in their loyalty to their roots. Halvorson’s roots are in Will County; Jackson’s are in the south side of Chicago and the suburbs.

Both of them share a desire for control, which is where their differences played out. Jackson, whose humongous ego wants to build a new airport to bolster his political resume. He even wants its identity to bear his own initials.

Halvorson was driven by her desire to prove herself—to show she was tough and could beat a political heavy hitter like Jackson. I think she could have done it too, had she not put herself into the pro-airport box.
Halvorson used all the right arguments against Jackson’s support of the airport. She has opposed using condemnation of private property without FAA approval of the project. She questioned Jackson’s method of financing—by using a Canadian firm with ties to the Ghaddafi regime. She questions Jackson’s control, which is centered at O’Hare. Halvorson is aware of airline opposition. In fact, I’ve personally seen to it that Halvorson is aware of why an airport is a totally bad idea. She has largely ignored the logic that would call for scrapping the project.

In all the years that I have been aware of this project, I have seen countless politicians come and go. So often, I’ve heard them say they could never oppose the airport because it would be political suicide to do so.

That never stopped me or my successors from challenging them to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Few have ever taken us up on that challenge. Certainly no one at the state or federal level has wanted to even weigh into this complex issue.

I admit, this is a complicated story to tell in sound bytes, but I think Halvorson could have done that. She has been around long enough and her roots are local enough that she had the tools to really distinguish herself as different from Jackson, just another cookie-cutter politician who talks the talk but can’t walk the walk. Halvorson could have walked the walk, yet she has refused.

She had nothing to lose. Saying no to the airport would have had no ill effect on the economy—in fact, it might have been a plus. Imagine the state of Illinois no longer dumping money into trying to sell this boondoggle when no one wants to buy it.

Too bad Debbie didn’t do the right thing. The results of Tuesday night’s election might have had a different outcome. I think the public is crying for a politician to do the right thing on behalf of the public for a change.
Imagine a politician that speaks of logic and common sense.

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