Going, Going Fast | Bleader

Going, Going Fast

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If you want to see the Dead Zone, better hurry up.

The Dead Zone is, of course, the far northeastern corner of Bensenville, roughly 15 percent of the town. Using immense powers at the state, local and federal levels, Mayor Daley seized control of almost all the property there in order to plow it over and build a new runway and air control tower for O'Hare Airport.

Yesterday DuPage County Judge Kenneth Popejoy gave Daley the green light to begin demolition, ruling that there is no apparent environmental danger from tearing down the property. The city hopes to bring in the bulldozers as soon as possible, says Rosemarie Andolino, who oversees the mayor's O'Hare expansion program.

You might wonder why Mayor Daley would be so eager to proceed with a project for which there is no apparent funding or need, now that rising fuel costs have crippled the airline industry.

Well, I'm totally with Mayor Daley on this one. When I was about eight, I used to like to smash sand castles just for the fund of watching them fall. I mean, what's the fun of being an all-powerful mayor if you can't run people out of their community and demolish their homes?

In his ruling, Popejoy noted that more than 500 buildings in the Dead Zone are vacant and he called them an "eyesore."

I'm going to have to disagree with the judge about this. There's nothing ugly about the Dead Zone. In fact, I find it a little -- oh, what's the word? -- stirring to stand on the quiet streets amidst the boarded-up, vacant houses and contemplate the tremendous political power it represents.

I suggest Judge Popejoy amend his ruling and force Mayor Daley to keep the buildings standing until -- or if -- the city ever has the money it needs to build the stuff it wants to build.

In the meantime, state senator James Meeks should lead bus tours (but not bike rides) of children from Chicago's chronically broke public school system so they can see firsthand how their government spends its money. 

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