Chicago Used O'Hare Development Funds To Destroy Meigs

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Friday, Chicago officials sent off a 43-page legal brief in response to the FAA's concern that the city diverted $1.5 million from O'Hare's federal airport development funds to pay for the destruction of Meigs field. The FAA has already ordered the city to pay a $33,000 fine for insufficient notice (not telling anyone at the FAA 30 days ahead of time that the city intended to close Meigs field). The city's brief defends both actions. The text says that the city did give notice of closure and also that the city did spend the O'Hare money, plus another $1.3 million, to destroy the field, according to a report in yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times. But in an epic twist of lay-logic, the brief contends it's legal to use "development funds" to destroy an airport. (... Bless the lawyers, every one.) There is precedent, set in both Denver and Austin, and therefore the ... act ... was legal, according to the brief. The Sun-Times caught Law Department Spokeswoman Jenny Hoyle saying, "We make the point that these costs are related to the removal of airport infrastructure and environmental remediation. It's not in the public interest for a municipality to leave behind an abandoned airport. ... We used the revenue carefully. It was not used for redevelopment or urban renewal."