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4/1/03 Phil Kadner

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Phil Kadner

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Foes shocked and awed in Battle of Meigs Field

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Angered that Disneyland is considered more vital to national security than Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley ordered the destruction of the only runway at Meigs Field.

The Department of Homeland Security declared the space over Disneyland a "no fly" zone, the mayor said, because protecting Mickey and Minnie was apparently more important to the folks in Washington than the lives of Chicagoans.

In a lightning counter-attack, the mayor launched Operation X.

In the middle of the night, construction crews moved backhoes and floodlights into Meigs Field. Large X-shaped chunks of concrete were torn out of the air field's landing strip.

If the city had access to bunker-buster bombs and Tomahawk missiles, you get the feeling the mayor would have created a scene designed to "shock and awe" the FAA.

That's the Federal Aviation Administration, which used to have some say over commercial aviation in this country.

Daley decided to overthrow the FAA about a year ago in order to install a form of government more to his liking.

The U.S. president may feel the need to consult the United Nations before declaring war against an enemy, but Daley does not seek anyone's approval.

"Why didn't you issue a press release?" announcing the demolition of Meigs Field, a reporter asked during a news conference late Monday morning.

Daley laughed, held up a sheet of paper and said, "Here's the press release."

It was issued after the Battle of Meigs Field had been fought and won.

Reporters aren't embedded with front-line units in Chicago. They're fed the news on a need-to-know basis, and because Daley doesn't need them they don't know anything.

News leaks can only help the enemy, who is everywhere.

Even in the U.S. Senate.

The destruction of Meigs Field was not only the fault of the Department of Homeland Security, but could be traced directly to the U.S. Senate's rules of debate.

Daley had agreed to keep Meigs Field open if the federal government would allow him to expand O'Hare International Airport, award all of the construction contracts there and seize large chunks of land belonging to Godless suburbanites.

U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) blocked the deal, claiming the city should be forced to accept the lowest bids for the construction contracts.

Fitzgerald also said the city had no right to seize suburban land.

With Daley's O'Hare deal dead in the Senate, so was his agreement with former Gov. George Ryan to keep Meigs Field open until 2026.

And the FAA, which had already proven its irrelevance, wasn't consulted when Daley decided to turn Meigs Field into a public park.

Daley is the prince of Chicago and as such does not recognize the authority of federal agencies.

The courts, of course, might have intervened if Daley had given them the chance.

Lawsuits would have been filed by aviation groups and downtown businessmen in an effort to keep Meigs open.

Heck, the people who still have planes at the air field might have wanted a chance to move them.

That's why Daley ordered a rolling start to this campaign, as U.S. military leaders might say.

What about Chicago's aldermen? Well, the city has what textbooks refer to as a dictator/city council form of government.

The mayor dictates. The aldermen nod their heads in agreement or are removed from office.

There are no public executions in Illinois, and aldermen can thank George Ryan for that.

One reporter asked Daley precisely when he decided to order the assault on Meigs Field.

Some sources suggest it was after watching HBO's "Sopranos'' that Daley got the impulse to bring out the backhoes, but I believe CNN's coverage of the war in Iraq was a stronger influence.

If only the U.S. had moved in with overwhelming force ...

If only Saddam Hussein hadn't been given any warning ...

If only President Bush had ignored advisers urging him to consult the U.N. before going to war ...

Daley's frustration level reached a boiling point, he picked up the telephone and ordered his army of city workers to begin Operation Midnight Park Land.

There were no protests.

No demonstrators filled the streets.

The battle was over before the enemy could mount a defense.

Those who would have launched a guerrilla war against Daley never stood a chance.

Today Meigs Field.

Tomorrow Disneyland.

Phil Kadner may be reached at or (708) 633-6787.

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