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"City seeks hearing to fight FAA's $33,000 Meigs fine"
- From: "Stephen Irwin" <stepheni@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 23 Sep 2005 03:00:21 -0500
Thursday, September 22, 2005
City seeks hearing to fight FAA's $33,000 Meigs fine
BY FRAN SPIELMAN
The Chicago (IL) Sun Times
City Hall on Wednesday asked for a formal hearing to challenge a $33,000
civil penalty stemming from Mayor Daley's infamous midnight destruction of
The Federal Aviation Administration ordered the city to pay the fine after
Daley failed to provide the required 30-day notice when he sent in a fleet
of bulldozers to carve giant X's into the Meigs runway after midnight on
March 30, 2003.
The notice is designed to give the FAA time to assess any adverse impact of
an airport closing.
Law Department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle insisted 30 days' notice was "not
practicable" in this case for two reasons: Meigs was closed for "public
safety" reasons, and the Daley-controlled Chicago Park District had canceled
"There wasn't enough time to allow us to give the FAA 30 days' notice....
They didn't want to continue an airport at that site. Once they canceled the
lease, we had no basis for continuing to operate an airport at that
location," Hoyle said.
"We have a substantial amount of evidence supporting the fact that our
closure falls within the exceptions to that rule, and we want the
opportunity to present that information."
'Killed a vibrant city airport'
Steve Whitney, president of Friends of Meigs Field, ridiculed the city's
contention that there wasn't time to satisfy the notice requirement. He
argued that Daley concocted an emergency to realize his long-standing dream
of turning Northerly Island into a park.
"If it had been an emergency, they could have closed the runway through some
other means -- like parking trucks" on it, he said.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association filed the complaint that resulted
in the $33,000 fine. It also triggered an investigation into the city's use
of $1.5 million in federal grants and airline ticket taxes to finance the
demolition of Meigs.
"Our position remains that they acted against federal regulations and, as a
result, they killed a vibrant city airport," said association spokeswoman
FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro refused to comment on the city's appeal, except
to say the hearing before an administrative law judge has not been
In its Aug. 31 letter to the city assessing the $33,000 penalty, the FAA
argued that the Park District's termination of the lease "occurred after
consultation between the Park District and the City of Chicago." The FAA
also claimed that it was "denied sufficient time to evaluate the potential
effect of the deactivation of Meigs Field on the regional and national
airspace system and the public as a whole."
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