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02/10/2009

What's Up With Mayor Daley?

  What's up with Mayor Daley and his weird refusal to admit that his administration wants and needs as much federal money as it can get to help put the O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP) back on track. 

   As recently as during a Monday afternoon news conference, ABC-7's Paul Meinke asked the Mayor point blank if the city would pursue dollars from the pending $800 billion Federal Stimulus bill for the OMP.  Daley muttered "no" for several seconds and that was the end of it.

  Then the very next morning, Daley was the featured speaker during a news conference in the Washington, D.C. office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.  A reporter asked the mayor again about stimulus bill money for O'Hare.  He pointed to OMP director Rosemarie Andolino (who just happened to have traveled to Washington with Daley and was sitting in the room) who answered that money for the modernization program was on the city's wish list.  Later, she told an ABC-7 producer that the project was "shovel ready" and "perfectly positioned" for stimulus grants. 

   OMP has been in serious trouble in recent months.  The major airlines, ravaged by recession, said they no longer had the money to pay their agreed-upon share of the cost.  What's more, the land acquisition has been delayed by lawsuits and according to Andolino, the overall project's 2014 completion date is threatened.  She projected that a $250 million dollar stimulus bill grant for OMP, would put 1400 construction workers on payrolls by April 1st and would keep them working for two years.

  So why is the Mayor so reluctant to talk about it?  Is he remembering his pledge not to use any taxpayer money for the O'Hare expansion project...even if it comes as part of a federal windfall?  Or maybe he wanted to "low key it" hoping not to rile airport expansion opponents.

  Well, they are riled up.  A group headed by Bensenville Village President John Geils is headed to Washington Wednesday.  He says they'll argue against any stimulus bill money for O'Hare expansion.

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