Friday, March 23, 2012

Jesse Jackson Jr.'s groundbreaking just smoke, mirrors

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.

, member of the United States House of Represe...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just a reminder: the Peotone Airport is not yet approved! 

Jackson's motives are as clear as his bulldozer mentality. Until the recent congressional district redistricting, Jackson had no jurisdiction over Peotone.

Shame on Illinois Democrats for setting this nightmarish scenario into motion. Growing the second congressional district into Will County and encompassing the Peotone Airport site finally gave Jackson and the south suburban mayors that stand behind him, just what they have always wanted--a clear pathway to the proposed airport. Jackson and his south suburban pals no longer have to finagle their way to the airport site.

Controlling the airport site is deja vu

Remember in the 1980's when University Park Planner Craig Hullinger proposed annexing Kedzie Avenue in order to 'reach' the airport footprint? Those efforts to strip annex the land to the site were halted by officials in the villages of Monee, Peotone, and Beecher when they figured out what was happening, stopping it before it did.

Jackson got the job done another way--by seeing to it that the airport site became a part of his congressional district. For years he acted as though it was a part of his district; at least now he no longer has to lie about that.

I guess this is what IDOT and its ilk talks about when they refer to all the progress the third airport has made. The finagling has moved all the way from a municipal planner to a congressman.

Jackson's groundbreaking

Now Jackson wants to hold a people's groundbreaking on April 21. Earth Day is actually April 22, but that day falls on a Sunday this year. Since many of Jackson's supporters are clergy members, they are otherwise occupied on Sunday, so he had to plan his party for Saturday.

Jackson's plan to turn a shovel full of dirt for the airport, is not unlike a similar ruse back in 2000. That was when jailed ex-Governor George Ryan arranged for the first purchase of land for the airport--even though the land was part of a then-stagnant upscale subdivision owned by a Ryan campaign donor and was located outside the airport site. It must be noted that Jackson has recently taken credit for this action. Interestingly though, the land that was sold was later deemed not part of the project and ordered to be sold.

The act of buying the first vacant lot at Heatherbrook Estates in Monee, however, was enough to create the smoke and mirrors effect to scare other landowners into thinking the state was really moving forward on the project. In reality, nothing had changed.

Jackson's symbolic groundbreaking is also smoke and mirrors. He hopes it will jump start this stagnant project. 

There is no doubt that Jackson has learned from his past. Perhaps he is trying to emulate that which he learned about at his father's knee. Jackson has grown up watching and certainly hearing about the Civil Rights Movement, the marches his father participated in, and all the other events leading to one of the most landmarked changes this country has ever known. He has seen how the Occupy Wall Street crowd has gained momentum resulting in success for change. He is probably inspired by the way the Rev. Al Sharpton and others have helped focus national attention on the wrongful death of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

Jackson wants that kind of success for the airport of his dreams too. From time-to-time, he has marched small bands of supporters to Peotone to try to make his point. He's never had much success, but then I doubt he has much support because south suburban residents really lack the kind a passion for this project that would require success. They may pay it lip service for political reasons, but do they really think a runway 40 miles from their community will solve their economic woes?

Too bad Jackson hasn't bothered to channel his efforts in a better way. In this situation, he is simply on the wrong side.

Jackson has it backward

In the aforementioned movements, Jackson, Sharpton, and others have stood up for the little guy. They have been champions of a cause that sparked change because they were right to do so. Perhaps Junior is so quick to nurture his own ego that he never really realized that he is on the wrong side--the side of the bully--that guy who victimizes the little fella.

This issue is also a matter of civil rights. But in this case, the minority isn't one of color, but is certainly an issue of culture. The people of sparsely-populated eastern Will County, the farmers and small town dwellers are an endangered species in a development-at-all cost mentality. They are the minority. Someone needs to stand up for them.

The only result of Jackson's latest onslaught against the people of eastern Will County is to further the harm done to them for at least the past 25 years.

It is also backward that the people of Illinois will pay for this boondoggle. They are the same Illinois taxpayers that have been paying the bills since it was wrongly revived from the dead in the mid-1990's by former Gov. Jim Edgar. This airport has cost many, for the benefit of a few.

Isn't this the exact opposite of what economic development and public works project are supposed to achieve?

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