Our latest boondoggle | Bleader

Our latest boondoggle

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Boy, that didn't take long.

In July, Mayor Daley promised to purchase and demolish Michael Reese Hospital for no more than $85 million.

He said he'd turn around and sell the property to a developer for at least $85 million, and the developer could build a 7,500-unit housing complex suitable for Olympic housing. All in all, Daley vowed, the deal wouldn't cost taxpayers a cent.

Well, on Sunday, Fran Spielman broke the news in the Sun-Times that the cleanup of the property would cost $32 million, not $20 million, as originally estimated. So Daley will either have to spend more public money to get it ready for resale, negotiate a new deal with Medline Industries to get them to sell it for less, or find a developer willing to pay more than $85 million for the site. We haven't even consummated the deal and it's looking like a boondoggle.

I'm not surprised that the cleanup costs are higher than promised -- the city's notorious for underestimating the cost of a project to minimize public opposition (remember the Brown Line project?). I'm just surprised the news broke so early in the game. Generally, the city doesn't fess up what the real cost of a project will be till about halfway through, when there's nothing the public can do about it. Not that the sheep in Chicago ever actually do anything about the abuses being conducted all around them.

Mayor Daley should give up his dream for the Olympics before we go broke and spend public funds on something we actually need. Maybe it's not too late to ask Oprah to bring back all those Olympians to support a movement to fix up public transportation.

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