Quinn Backing Peotone

Airport money in budget plan

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s dream of a Peotone airport appears to be on a roll. While being featured twice in three days by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert doesn't necessarily move the airport closer to construction, the budget Gov. Pat Quinn will introduce today puts money behind the exhortations of Herbert & Co.

According to SouthtownStar columnist Phil Kadner's sources, "Quinn would allocate as much as $100 million to buy 3,275 acres in the airport footprint." 

A source close to the governor told Kadner that "There is money in the budget for the purpose of airport land acquisition, but I can't confirm it's $100 million because the budget has been changing on nearly a daily basis. I can say that the governor remains committed to the airport."

The truth is, that's not exactly a radical position. Such institutional mainstays as the Tribune editorial board and a variety of civic groups to Barack Obama have long backed the third airport.

"[T]he primary stumbling block remains picking a body to control its development," Kadner writes.

"Jackson put together a group of south suburban mayors to develop a privately financed Abraham Lincoln National Airport. But Will County officials, who have done nothing to advance construction of the airport, have said they want control if the airport is ever built.

"The battle between the two sides has delayed progress, and Quinn, as the state's leader, ought to pick one group and resolve the deadlock."

Of course, Mayor Richard M. Daley's reticence has been an even larger stumbling block. If Daley threw his weight behind the new airport instead of fixing menacing stares on those who support it, it would be built by now. That, too, is about control - not aviation policy.

But as the Tribune once wrote that "Blagojevich is the only person who can break the stalemate," now it falls to Quinn.

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