And so I am, by the gummint, no less! A friend of mine from Columbia helped hook me up with a group called the Aviation Integrity Project. AIP is an investigative unit funded by the Suburban O’Hare Commission, a group of 14 suburbs surrounding O’Hare Field that oppose expansion of the airport. So the bills, technically, are being paid by Elk Grove Village.
AIP is headed by Terrence Brunner, who used to head the Better Government Association (a longtime goo-goo organization) here in Chicago and has a lot of contacts in the city’s journalism circles. So while this may be a short-run gig, lasting only for as long as the SOC deigns to continue funding it and the issue of expansion itself stays alive, I hope that it will serve as an entree into my next job. If nothing else, this job will afford me the opportunity to
learn more about investigative journalism, which I haven’t done much of so far.
So, what is AIP investigating, exactly? Well, I won’t bore you with the details — and I don’t want to spoil what we’re working on — but the gist of it is that Da Mare and the city have long favored expansion of O’Hare as opposed to a third airport because the O’Hare is actually a part of Chicago, which means that the city controls all the contracts and jobs that get doled out at O’Hare, many of which aren’t even open to competitive bidding.
What we have, then, are airlines and a region desperate to add capacity, and the city doesn’t want a third airport to happen because it would mean they’d lose all that potential patronage. This sets the stage for lots of dirty dealings, including some juicy campaign finance stuff and more. Classic Chicago stuff. It’s fun, and for some odd reason doesn’t feel nearly as dirty as Washington. Maybe just because I’m used to Chicago; it seems more like harmless fun. Clearly, in both cases there is powermongering at play.
And both Da Mare and Dubya have a way with words. Hmm …
Here’s how the proposed legislation to preempt local control over airport expansion is unconstitutional. The author of that article, by the way, is arguing SOC’s case in court.