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Mon, Mar 31, 2003

Aviation Community 'In Shock' By Daley Sneak Attack

It's been a hell of a day. We've been hearing from hundreds of pilots and aviation professionals, all over the world, decrying the dishonest and fraudulent actions of Chicago's Mayor/Bully Richard Daley.

Herewith a few more comments from some of the aviation community...

AOPA President Phil Boyer: "We are absolutely shocked and dismayed... Mayor Daley has no honor and his word has no value. The sneaky way he did this shows that he knows it was wrong."
Boyer immediately fired faxes off to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and Transportation Security Administration chief Adm. James M. Loy to discuss possible solutions.
"During a period when the country is at war in the Middle East, why must the mayor of Chicago also play dictator with a most valuable airport and cause additional turmoil inside our own country?" asked Boyer.
"While federal and state airport laws may not have been broken by this action, in December 2001 he pledged to keep the airport open, in support of federal legislation that granted him expansion of O'Hare airport. The mayor has broken his promise not only to the citizens of his own city, but also to the pilots of America.
"We will once again explore the legality of this action, but past research indicates that the law hasn't been broken," Boyer continued. "However, we're not going to allow the mayor to hide behind the fiction of 'homeland security' for his reprehensible action."

EAA President Tom Poberezny: "The nature of the actions taken by the city under the cover of darkness indicates that there was not public support for this action... We will continue to work with the Friends of Meigs Field and others in trying to save the airport. All options will be quickly investigated. Throughout the years, Meigs Field has proven its value, both from an economic standpoint and as well as from a social standpoint. Thousands of kids have enjoyed EAA Young Eagles flights there. Numerous organizations and hundreds of volunteers have worked diligently on behalf of the airport."

President of the Friends of Meigs Field, Rachel Goodstein: Rachel wasn't buying the mayor's spurious public safety mantra, either. "During WWII, Franklin Roosevelt said we have nothing to fear but fear itself, and the mayor proved that today," she said, speaking in front of reporters at city hall shortly after the mayor's conference concluded. "Businesses, pilots, and many non-flying citizens-people are really outraged by what the mayor did. To come in the middle of the night and do this...the only reason was to prevent a lawsuit from being filed, what he virtually admitted." Goodstein was equally appalled that nobody-not the FAA, U.S. or Illinois departments of transportation, not even the Meigs tower knew of the plans to destroy the runway. "This was a fear-mongering land-grab, plain and simple," Goodstein said. "The city is much safer with a towered airport monitoring all air traffic. The fire department is now 10 miles further away which makes boaters less safe. Children with emergency medical situations are less safe. This was a shortsighted decision. The mayor is taking advantage of fear to get something done he always wanted." "The city did this with a vengeance," Goodstein said. "If this (Meigs) was a national security issue, they could block the runway with trucks. We all know this is not a national security issue."

Bev Dunjill, President of the Tuskegee Airmen's DOD chapter based at Meigs Field: Dunjill, a veteran pilot of World War II and Korea, spoke on behalf of EAA's Young Eagles program, which has contributed more than 6,000 names to the world's largest logbook. "The overwhelming majority of the kids flown were inner-city kids, which provided them with a structured and fun introduction to the world of flight, but now their ability to experience flight has taken a huge blow," he said.

FMI: mayordaley@cityofchicago.org, governor@state.il.us

 


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