What Price Justice? $1.033 Mil
A long-running dispute between the FAA and the office of Chicago
Mayor Richard Daley came to an end Monday, with City Hall agreeing
to pay a total of $1,033,000 in fines and repayment for the
infamous under-the-veil-of-darkness destruction of Meigs Field in
March 31, 2003.
In the settlement deal, Daley agreed to pay a $33,000 fine
imposed on the city -- and repay another $1 million in federal
airport development grants, which were used to destroy the
In a sense, the city got off easy in the settlement -- as the
Chicago Sun-Times reports, the FAA could have imposed penalties of
up to three times the amount of federal funds diverted for the
nefarious scheme -- or $4.5 million.
While many Meigs supporters no doubt would have liked to see the
city hit with the full amount of the fine, it's important to note
that punishment would have been passed along directly to the
citizens of Chicago in the former of higher taxes.
Daley's office will divert $1 million from a "non-aviation" fund
to repay the airport improvement fund, with payments made every
quarter. The only access Chicago will have to future airport
revenue will be to clean up "airport-related environmental
contamination" on the former Meigs property on Northerly
"We agreed the remediation of environmental damage not related
to the removal of infrastructure was an appropriate use of airport
revenue. We also agreed that any expenditure related to
redevelopment of the airport as a park would not be appropriate,"
said FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory.
As reported by Aero-News, the
$33,000 fine was imposed on the city of Chicago by the FAA last
September, for the city's failure to give the required 30-day
notice of its intent to shut Meigs down. In the time since, the
city spent over $200,000 fighting the
It's important to note that in the settlement agreement, the
city still admits no wrongdoing.
"It allows us to resolve what could have been lengthy and
expensive litigation in a way that is very reasonable for both the
city and the FAA. It also allows us to use additional funds for
environmental clean-up at Northerly Island related to Meigs Field,
which is something we consider very important," said Law Department
spokesperson Jennifer Hoyle to the Sun-Times.
In the end... did Chicago -- and its boss-like mayor -- get
off easy in the settlement? Or is the fine and repayment a fair end
to the Meigs scandal? Stay tuned for analysis and reaction to the
settlement among the aero-community throughout the day.