Nine new gates may be just the beginning of a major expansion at O’Hare International Airport, already one of the busiest airports in the world.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he has reached an agreement with several major airlines to build as many as nine new gates, while they continue to negotiate on the possibility of an even larger expansion which could make O’Hare a more convenient airport for passengers boarding and debarking from planes.
Explaining what the expansion would mean for Chicago Emanuel said: “New York, London, Berlin, Beijing — watch out, Chicago’s coming for you.”
The airport has been expanding little by little under the ongoing long-term plans for growth, but that growth has been realized mostly in new runways. A deal on additional gates has been alluding airport planners. Most of the push-back has come from the dominant airlines of United and American, which are worried about allowing for too much competition.
It is unavoidable to add gates, however, if the airport wants to improve its on-time performance. The new runways being built will not help the airport significantly if there are not places for landed planes to park and let their passengers disembark. The result of this lack of gates is that O’Hare has some of the longest flight delays among US airports. With passengers avoiding Chicago, the city’s economy is adversely affected as well.
The plan Emanuel announced involves as many as nine gates to the 25 which already exist at Terminal 5. It is expected to cost $300 million, to be paid for with existing passenger facility charges, the extra fee that is added to the cost of a plane ticket.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel received an answer of “no” to his request to pass a bill which would have helped fund pensions for the city’s police and firemen.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said that Emanuel’s plan did not include cost-cutting savings. He said the bill would force the city taxpayers to pay more in the long run.
“Borrowing billions against taxpayers is not the solution,” Rauner said.
But for now the veto will remove $220 million from the city’s budget. The mayor might have to raise property taxes on Chicago residents to make up the deficit. Some critics of the governor say he squashed the plan as much for political reasons and economic. They say that Republican Rauner would like to have some power of Democrats in upcoming fights over budgeting, taxes and the pro-business, anti-union changes the governor is after.
The bill the governor vetoed would have covered the cost of contributions to the Policemen’s and Firemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund.
“The cost to Chicago’s taxpayers of kicking this can down the road is truly staggering,” Rauner said in the statement. “Chicago is borrowing against its taxpayers to the tune of $18.6 billion. This practice has to stop. If we continue, we’ve learned nothing from our past mistakes.”
Emanuel replied: “With a stroke of his pen, Bruce Rauner just told every Chicago taxpayer to take a hike. Bruce Rauner ran for office promising to shake up Springfield, but all he’s doing is shaking down Chicago residents, forcing an unnecessary $300 million property tax increase on them and using them as pawns in his failed political agenda.”
February saw a rise in the City of Chicago’s unemployment rate to 7.2 percent, and increase of .3 percent over last year. This explains why Mayor Rahm Emanuel is working so hard to bring jobs to the city.
One explanation for the rise comes from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The IDES blamed the rise at least partly on the fact that more people are actively looking for jobs recently, as the economy seems to be improving.
The poor job situation is just one more crisis Emanuel has been dealing with lately. He has also been taking the heat for the high crime rate, the poor performance of the city’s schools, and the large pension debt, to name just three.
Businesses in Chicago have been feeling the pinch, and have expressed their unhappiness about the large property tax increase that arrived in Chicago this year to help alleviate the pension problem. There is a fear that this new tax could persuade some businesses to flee the city, or how much of a presence they choose to have in Chicago.
The greater Chicago metro area, including Naperville and Arlington Heights also saw a rise in unemployment: from 6.5 percent a year ago to 6.7 percent in February. The area ranks in first place of the 51 metro markets in the country with populations of one million or more with the highest unemployment rate, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Las Vegas comes in second with a 6.5 percent rate of unemployment.