Politics, Lawsuits, No Answer To O’Hare Noise


If you happen to be one of those simplistic local partisan Republicans (we’re leaving you simplistic local partisan Democrats alone today) who thinks that replacing our current representative in Congress will magically make our O’Hare problem better, you were probably a bit disappointed by what you heard from her Republican challenger last Wednesday night at the Park Ridge Library.

Joel Pollak seems like a bright, earnest and pleasant fellow.  He’s got whatever cachet comes from undergrad and law degrees from Harvard.  He may yet give Jan Schakowsky a run for her money.  But when it came time for the rubber to meet the road on O’Hare, he didn’t have any more horespower under the hood than the incumbent.

Pollak’s message?  Try to get a seat “at the table” and see what we can negotiate, because lawsuits don’t have a likelihood of success and chances aren’t good that the airlines will observe any City Council-declared “no fly” zone over Park Ridge.

Unless City Hall starts deploying Stinger surface-to-air missiles to those embattled residents in the Belle Plaine corridor.

Even the double handful of local Dems salted throughout the audience waiting to pounce on any Pollak flub had little to squawk about.  Pollak noted the pre-emptive role of the FAA (a/k/a, the “Feds”), which is the 800-pound gorilla on whom Richie Daley relies to keep ‘em flying at O’Hare and pumping more cash into Chicago’s coffers that have been depleted by decades of his administration’s mismanagement, cronyism, and outright crookedness.

But if Pollak’s message was lost on anybody last Wednesday night, last night’s City Council dog-and-pony show by Irvine, California attorney Steven Taber should have been a bucket of cold water to all but those afflicted with terminal O’Hare Fever. 

We quote from Taber’s August 9, 2010, memorandum to the mayor and City Council concerning O’Hare-related litigation:

“While there is potential for causes of action that would affect the OMP, and thereby prevent or reduce the noise over Park Ridge, the time for filing project related lawsuits has essentially passed.”

The same appears to go for lawsuits other than those directed against the OMP as a whole.  As Taber notes in his memo, even suing to get a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) is viewed as having a probability of success that is “not very high, even with significant evidence supporting noise in excess of levels predicted by the EIS.” 

We don’t like airplane noise and pollution any more than the next guy or gal.  But, as we’ve said on this blog before, the time for getting after O’Hare expansion and the new runways via lawsuits (if there ever was any realistic opportunity) came and went years ago – while Mayors Howard Frimark, Mike Marous and even O’Hare-obsessed Ron Wietecha busied themselves with other things (in Wietecha’s case, figuratively -and futilely – baying at the O’Hare moon at virtually every City Council meeting). 

And let’s not forget all those Belle Plaine folks who were asleep at the wheel regarding OMP until they got a 757-sized wake up call. 

There may be numerous reasons to prefer Joel Pollak to Jan Schakowsky as our representative in Washington.  But from what we heard last week at the Park Ridge Library and what we heard last night at City Hall, an effective plan to provide Park Ridge with relief from O’Hare is not one of them.

And throwing $165,000 of City money at the problem is just a waste.

11 comments so far

I looked around that evening and said, “where’s the press?” Then I saw you and I said, “Oh, good. They’re here.”

To repeat, the airport expansion supports international commerce, which trumps all. And the global economy that is grinding up the tea partiers along with the rest of us is not going to be stopped by a little community quality-of-life problem. Never has, never will be. The Bush Administration and all of its would-be replacement parts have had less than no interest in our local cares; they don’t even believe in the environment as a quality of life issue, only as plunder, remember?

As a person with a small, solid house and a big ole yard with a screened porch, soundproofing won’t do much for me. O’Hare noise has spoiled my summer nights (and Sundays, and…)too. But what we are going through is ironic. The tea partiers and the anti-airporters, often the same folks, don’t realize they’re demanding that the Federal Gub-Mint protect them as citizens from private industry, i.e. the airlines. As long as he gets his cut, Daley doesn’t care if they fly noisy old planes or quiet new ones; where they fly or don’t fly. Only the airlines’ management cares, and like every other industry, your wellbeing is of no interest compared to their quarterly P&L statements. But of course, that’s too dangerous a thought. Let’s blame Daly and Jan.

Anyway, thanks for being “the press.” Even when I don’t agree with you, you’re top dog!

EDITOR’S NOTE:  So long as you want to be “Molly” we’ll remain our unassuming “PubDog” selves, thank you very much.

Government is supposed to protect the citizenry, the environment, etc., from the kinds of harm from which they can’t reasonably protect themselves, including harm from the unreasonably destructive or dangerous conduct of predatory profit-motivated businesses.  That concept of government has been so well-established for so long that (as you point out) even the “tea partiers” get it.  Which is exactly why they do “blame Daly [sic] and Jan“…and why they are absolutely right in doing so, assuming that the danger and/or harm from planes flying over Park Ridge outweigh the benefits of those planes to society generally. 

As for those “quarterly P&L statements,” disparage or ignore them at your own peril.   

Ilearned that I own the airspace over my house. I will simply install a 500 foot high toll booth and my problems will be over.

Was Gene Spanos there and did he ask any questions? How about Jennifer Perry? If they weren’t there, can they deny it ever happened?

No Gene… no Jennifer Perry… there was the lawyer and one Commission member, I think the new Chairperson. That is it.

Apparently the ORD crowd was not too interested in the snake oil the lawyer was there to peddle.

PubDog, I totally agree with your take on O’Hare. It’s too late. Blame Daley and Jan? Sure. Why not.

Building on your comment about “simplistic local partisan Republicans” — well, I’m not one of those.

I’ll vote for almost any Democrat or Republican who wants to control government spending and reduce my taxes.

The problem is, we don’t have many of those, Remocrat or Depublican.

I think, though, Joel Pollak totally beats out Jan Schakowsky. He’ll reduce the role of government, while Jan will keep on taxing and spending.

It’s not simplistic. It’s not partisan. It’s not even Republican. But: Joel Pollak for U.S. Congress!

Very good column Thank you

So you believe what Joel is saying during a campaign?!?!?!?!?! You, my friend, are “simplistic”!!!!

“Unless City Hall starts deploying Stinger surface-to-air missiles to those embattled residents in the Belle Plaine corridor.”

Having trouble believing you actually said that, even in sarcasm.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  It wasn’t merely in “sarcasm,” it was in full-blown mockery.

I know this is not the subject of your post, but I do not where to turn, and I know how you feel about secrecy in government. Perhaps you can expose this miscarriage of government:

the District 64 bigwigs are going into CLOSED session to evaluate and interview candidates for a replacement board member. Shouldn’t those interviews be open to the public? They say they will vote in open, but that will just be a rubber stamp to what was decided in closed session.

This smells. It reeks. It is putrid.

PH: You are right about District 64’s board reeking. It has reeked for since it brought in carpetbagging Fred Schroeder from Schaumburg back in the 1990s. District 64 is the least transparent of all the local governmental bodies, and the biggest spender to boot. So a closed session to pick a board member is no surprise to me.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  People…we agree that closed session board picks reek.  But can we please stay on topic?

I think readers would like to see more about draining the swamp that is D64.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  And well they should.  But, frankly, we don’t see anything close to the level of interest they show for City government – presumably because D-64 is perhaps the least transparent and accountable local governmental body.  And in our opinion, that’s primarily because of the teacher-friendly School Board General Caucus which dominates the process and is responsible for all but one District 64 board member since at least 1997.