Monday, March 06, 2006

Daley Wants to Privatize Midway

At first it seems odd that Chicago, hardly a champion for businesses [not owned by political favored parties] would consider privatizing Midway Airport. Well, at least it until you consider that the city is desperately in need of additional revenue sources.
A bill quietly moving through the Illinois Legislature would grant blanket property tax exemptions to private investors who lease all or parts of Midway, the 2,180-space Millennium Park garage, smaller city-owned garages, and three transfer stations where recyclables are separated from routine garbage.

That's precisely how Daley got the ball rolling on the Skyway deal that has allowed him to restore Chicago's shaky bond rating and hold the line on property taxes while funding human services programs.

The deal that Chicago struck with Spain's Cintra Macquarie Consortium to lease the Skyway Tollway netted the city $1.82 billion up front. Even that cash infusion has not gotten the city out of financial troubles so Daley is rooting around to see what other gems he can put on the auction block.

Surprisingly, the Illinois Senate passed the measure clearing the way unanimously. The must have forgotten all the graft that they get by selling off giving contracts at the airport as political favors. If a deal actually comes to pass I expect a little more rancor as the politicians fight to protect their pork.

I would also expect the US Congress to get involved as I’m willing to bet that foreign interests will be quite pleased to take ownership of such a large US asset and in light of the recent port deal I expect the National Security boogieman to raise its ugly head.

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