Saving Gary, Indiana

Stealing their airport is an option

The Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board (!) has decreed that a private consulting firm be hired to figure out how to save Gary.

From itself.

"By April, Gary already had run through all but $100,000 of the $1.3 million budgeted for its 2009 utility bills," the Northwest Times reports. "The money set aside to buy gasoline for the year hadn't been touched, though city officials believed another fund was being tapped. And on top of it all stood $22.2 million in debts dating as far back as 2005. "In short, it was enough to schedule an intervention."

Chicago ought to have a seat at that table.

First, it's our responsibility.

We apparently helped cause the problem.

"Lake County politicians must have developed a critical case of 'arrogance envy' watching the drama of the attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat unfold in neighboring Cook County," Mark Kiesling wrote when Gary Mayor Rudy Clay bought a Hummer on the taxpayer's dime.

Clay's defense?

"We're saving taxpayers money by riding in a Hummer. I could've bought a $50,000 Expedition."

I wonder if he's preparing a run for Cook County president.

Anyway, the fiscal monitor "will take a look at more than a dozen problem areas that have led to the fiscal crisis that now threatens to paralyze the debt-wracked city," Kiesling writes today.

And that's given Kiesling an idea:

"Hey, Chicago! Want a free airport?"

It already has Chicago's name on it.

"Just hand them the deed to the whole thing and say, 'Here you go'," Kiesling suggests.

"It sits only a few miles east of the Chicago city limits, and it would be easy to designate a portion of the highway leading to the airport as the property of Chicago."

The revenue that could be drawn from planting new parking meters at the airport could close Chicago's own budget gap.

If you could get anyone to drive there.

Which is why it's a perfect location for a casino.

Chicago's problems solved, courtesy of Gary.

And a success story for the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board.

Steve Rhodes is the fiscal monitor of The Beachwood Reporter.

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