Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. today issued the following statement in response to comments made yesterday by U.S. Senator Mark Kirk: "I am deeply shocked and disappointed by Sen. Mark Kirk's comments to the Southland Chamber of Commerce regarding the third airport. While Kirk stated that the only viable model for building airports in the world today is through public private partnerships (PPP), he refused to endorse the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission (ALNAC) plan which does precisely that.
"I've briefed Kirk about ALNAC several times over the years and he always sounded supportive. He knows that PPPs are the only way to build an airport, and he knows ALNAC is the only legal, vetted, and full-funded PPP. So it's stunning that he can endorse everything ALNAC has done, yet steadfastly refuses to endorse ALNAC.
"Adding insult to ignorance, the Senator said if the airport were built in some far future date, it should be controlled by Will County officials -- the very folks who've been fighting against the airport for decades. Think about what he said. Would any private company invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a project controlled by politicians who oppose that project? Of course not. It's illogical and absurd.
"Besides, Sen. Kirk knows that airports are run by municipalities, not counties, with few exceptions. Chicago runs O'Hare and Midway, not Cook County. His plan is like asking ALNAC to pick the cotton but someone else gets to make the jeans; or asking farmers to grow and harvest the corn but someone else gets rich from ethanol.
"Moreover, Kirk's remarks come at a time when President Obama is trying to rebuild the economy by pushing for construction of new airports, roads and rails through PPPs.
"It's insulting that the senator would ignore the only viable PPP in the state -- which happens to be named after President Lincoln -- but then he names his bill, which encourages private investment, the "Lincoln Legacy Infrastructure Development Bill," as if it were his idea.
"Finally, I must remind Sen Kirk that ALNAC has been endorsed multiple times over the years by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, New York Times, Daily Southtown, Chicago Defender, Kankakee Daily Journal, The Star and other publications.
"Mark has always been a friend, but I can only conclude that our new senator opposes ALNAC; opposes the airport; opposes the President, and, most disappointing of all, opposes the Southland's best opportunity for prosperity."