Lots of mayors across the nation have released detailed lists of the projects they hope to fund with money from the federal stimulus package – but not Chicago’s Richard Daley. The only project known to be among his stimulus-funded plans is a $50 million runway expansion at O’Hare Airport.
Here’s Daley’s excuse for staying silent about his desired projects, as quoted by the Chicago Sun-Times:
“If I go out and announce 20, 40, 50 projects, it would be great. Oh, big headlines. Then you turn around and only two of those projects go forward, and you announced them in 40 different communities. I mean, you’ll destroy me overnight. And the public will destroy you,” Daley said.
“That’s why we have to be very careful on this. Your expectations are so high. But realistically, we don’t know how much money actually is gonna come to the city,” Daley said. “People say they have all these plans and everything. But they don’t know if they’re gonna get any money. I’m just cautioning everybody, this is not as much money as everyone may think it is.”
Daley is Mr. Politically Untouchable in Chicago, so why is he so worried about disappointing voters? Other mayors are releasing their wish lists, and if they don’t get all the stimulus money they requested, I’m sure they will explain to their constituents that their proposed projects were contingent on getting federal funds for them.
Daley told reporters he has projects “ready to go,” so why not say what at least some of them are? I suspect Daley doesn’t want to commit much of the stimulus money until after he learns whether Chicago will host the 2016 Olympics – his big pet project. If Chicago is awarded the Olympics, Daley will use a lot of stimulus money for infrastructure projects related to the Olympic Games. If Chicago doesn’t get the Olympics, Daley will spend the money on other improvement projects.
Daley should not be allowed to use stimulus money for spending related to the Olympics because that isn’t what the funds are for. The money is supposed to be used for shovel-ready projects – and I don’t believe for a second that Chicago can’t find plenty of those without turning its eye toward Daley’s Olympics wish list.