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Thu, Jul 06, 2006

Chicago Runs Up Quite A Tab Fighting $33K FAA Fine

Spends $200K Battling Agency Over Meigs Closure

Aero-News Opinion By Associate Editor Rob Finfrock

Is this smart business... or just the way things are done in Chicago? Well, we'll leave that one up to you... but according to several media sources, the city of Chicago has run up a significant bill in fighting a $33,000 fine levied by the FAA over the covert closing of Meigs Field more than four years ago.

Crain's Chicago Business says the "Kingdom of Daley" -- er, the Windy City -- has spent over $200,000 to fight the fine.

For those of you without a calculator handy, we'll run the numbers... that's over six times the amount of the fine. In all, the city has spent over half a million on fighting Meigs

Why, you may ask? Well, from the sound of it... it comes down to an unwillingness to admit the city was wrong.

As Aero-News reported last September, the FAA imposed the fine because the city failed to provide 30 days notice of its intent to close its airport.

Officials with the city told WLS-TV that were the city to pay the fine... it would leave itself open to other legal action over the city's closure of the field... and that, of course, would be wrong.

Meanwhile, the FAA isn't exactly waiting by the mailbox for a check to arrive. The Chicago Tribune reports the agency is investigating whether Chicago improperly used $2.9 million in airport development funds to close Meigs.

And THAT, says the Tribune, could result in another fine from the FAA... for up to $8.7 million. If the current proportion holds... Chicago had better plan on spending over $52 million to fight it.

We'll ask again... is that smart business?



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