Chicago Taxpayers Hit For Meigs Closure

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Fines Could Reach $4.5 Million...

The city of Chicago (in particular, its taxpayers) could face fines approaching $5 million for its midnight assault on Meigs Field 18 months ago. The FAA announced Friday it's proposing the city be fined $33,000 (the maximum) for failing to provide 30 days notice of the closure. The agency also said it was launching an investigation into whether $1.5 million in federal funds that were supposed to be spent on development of O'Hare International were diverted to pay the contractor hired to tear up Meigs. If it's true, the penalty could reach as high as $4.5 million. City spokeswoman Annette Martinez seemed to defend the expenditure to the Chicago Tribune. "Some funds were used to build the airport and it was appropriate to use the airport funds to remove the airport," she said. The FAA apparently sees it differently. "We are looking at whether the city used restricted airport revenues to pay for demolishing the Meigs runway and for its conversion from an airport to a city park," said FAA chief spokesman Greg Martin. Martin said the FAA could order the city to repay the money or impose penalties of up to three times the amount spent. The city has 30 days to respond to the charges.