The 3450 plus layoffs of United Airlines should send tremors through City Hall. That does not include slashed hours and four-day workweeks. The former Mayor Richard M. Daley clearly understood the importance of O’Hare Airport and the Airport System as an economic engine and the lynchpin to the economy at both a local and national level. When the Station Manager of UAL or the CEO called the 5th floor, Mayor Daley picked up the phone himself. This was evident following the tragic events following 9-11-01, when Mayor Daley was in frequent contact with all of the airlines and used his considerable clout with a Republican President from an opposing political party to secure funding to keep the airport and the billion-dollar construction –the O’Hare Modernization program going forward at that turbulent time. Relationships and the ability to govern were critical, and for all his shortcomings, Daley cared about the employees with families and clearly understood the major importance of Ohare and Midway Airports ( we will leave Miegs field out of this) and was able to keep it all going and avoid financial collapse. He appeased the major tenant airlines and they worked with him as well.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is interested in getting on T.V. shows, making foolish videos, and selling silly tee shirts. Lightfoot has got addicted to national exposure and according to Fox News, for all the wrong reasons. Lightfoot vicious anti-Trump rhetoric will hurt Chicago and Illinois. Enough.
Each airplane that lands at O’Hare Airport pay a hefty fee –so when there is busy air traffic keep in mind each of those planes landing or taking off, is paying a fee, a big fee. Additional airport user fees including hotels, car rentals, and concessions that are being paid by the paying customers boarding or arriving at the airports. They are a cash cow for the city and the region.
The amount of Union workers at O’Hare makes massive payments into the Union coffers and power the Democratic Party of Chicago and Cook County.
Shall we not forget when in 1994 when the General Assembly became controlled by the Republican Party; the Speaker at the time warned prior to him losing that role and becoming minority leader, that the first move the Republicans would make was to create a Regional Airport Authority, however, Daley and his skilled attorneys outmaneuvered the Republicans in an act of brilliance and created the Gary Chicago Regional Airport Authority and thereby, maintaining control of the jobs and the contracts at the airports. Again-remember, United, and American Airlines pay 80 percent of all costs for the city to maintain the airport and back the bonds for expansion. They control the gates by contract.
So when a major airline it cutting a large portion of its workforce they will have expectations of the Mayor. They will contend since they pay the costs for the city employees that run the airport as well as several dozen city attorneys, they will expect cuts-yes deep cuts. The airport Aviation Fund contribute approximately 16 percent revenue to the City Operational Budget. That is –Contributes (does not take from the property tax or local taxpayer) followed by the Department of Water that contributes approximately 14 percent to the annual operating budget.
So to borrow a phrase from Rham Emanuel-“Here is the deal”. The airlines are facing economic ruin, and Lightfoot has allowed amnesty to dead beats that do not pay their water bills and bilk the city for millions. Who is going to pay for the City Employees and the Pensions earned? Will Lightfoot leverage this to take the city into bankruptcy? And even if she does, the pensions are guaranteed by state law. So she will be entering unchartered water shall we say. There are no guarantees that bankruptcy will save the city, in fact, it might cause a fire sale of the city crowed jewels including the Water Department and the Airports to pay the creditors. When Lightfoot says this will not impact public safety she is either lying or getting ready to hit the homeowner with another hefty tax- the same homeowner who might have just lost his or her job. Lightfoot has thus far offered no viable strategy to run the City and her inability to govern and bring people together will come back to haunt her. Sanctuary city status and forced ongoing home quarantine will create economic and personal ruin. In three years the voters will decide on her fate keeping the office of Mayor on the 5th Floor. And if she says she only planned to be a one-termer, anyway, always remember she will never want to give away the job perks of the job including free front-row White Sox tickets. At least Lori is trying to get her street cred on the southside: she is a Northsider and her partner would never live in the hood, ever.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot is now on Facebook selling t-shirts. And so will every other city worker soon.