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Will County official takes airport fight to Quinn: ‘You will not dump on us’



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Updated: January 20, 2012 11:16AM

Will County Board Chairman Jim Moustis is done shrinking away from a fight over the proposed south suburban airport.

The Frankfort Republican used the county board’s first meeting of the year Thursday to send a strong message to Gov. Pat Quinn and other state officials eyeing the Peotone area for the Chicago area’s third air hub: “You will not dump on us.”

“Gov. Quinn, you will not treat us like somehow we’re second-class citizens and we don’t exist,” Moustis said. “You don’t think you need us? You might find out different later.”

Moustis outlined “a whole other history” of the airport in his comments, in which the administrations of Quinn and past governors told Will County politicians to “keep our mouths shut” and get along with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

The Democratic congressman from Chicago established the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission to govern the future site.

Now Jackson could represent the airport’s footprint for the first time if he wins re-election this year under a new congressional map. Moustis said Jackson’s plan is flawed, but he said Will County followed orders and kept quiet.

“We’re being the good child, I guess,” Moustis said. “You get a pat on the head. ‘Oh, you guys are being good.’”

That’s over, he said. He hears Quinn’s office would like to advance the airport project this year, and he said Will County’s silence has been used against it.

“We will fight you all the way,” Moustis said. “All the way.”

Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said the governor’s staff hasn’t left anyone out of airport talks.

“Everyone has a seat at the table,” Anderson said. “We’ve held meetings with elected officials, economic development experts and other involved parties at the state and local levels from Will County, Kankakee and the south suburbs.”

But the county board chairman said he wants an airport authority board made up mostly of Will County appointees. Jackson’s plan offers such a structure, but Moustis said communities outside of Will would have veto power.

Finally, Moustis said Will County executives — past and present — don’t get the respect they deserve from the state.

Democratic Executive Larry Walsh later thanked Moustis for his “very nice and appropriate comments.” Moustis also collected kudos from his fellow board members when the meeting ended.

Walsh took his own stand for local control of the south suburban airport during a speech in September. He said at the time he wouldn’t support any state land purchases until an airport authority is established.

“If the airport is built in Will County,” Walsh said at the time, “It will only be built under the governance conditions that we agree to.”

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