Doolin: Be careful what you wish for
By John Doolin Commentary June 17, 2012 10:50PM
John Doolin is an Oak Forest resident and the South Division advertising director for Sun-Times Media.
Updated: July 19, 2012 6:15AM
When your GPS is not convinced you are at the proposed, and now dead, Crete detention center site, I have to question how quality of life is affected.
Regardless, Corrections Corporation of America and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are moving on to a different community as Crete Village Board officials voted unanimously last week to withdraw from consideration for the proposed site.
The yearlong debate and protest is over, and apparently residents feel they won. State Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights) said, “The pulse of the people was to reject the project.”
Really? Concerned Citizens for Crete and Marimonica Murray only collected 2,000 signatures. As of 2011, the Crete population was more than 8,000. Are 2,000 signatures, or 25 percent, the “pulse of the people?”
The protest in Crete essentially drew crowds from Chicago and the Pilsen neighborhood. The majority of the protesters were not Crete residents.
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd) said, “The detention center would have forever changed Crete’s small-town feel and drive away developers.”
Really? What do you base that on, Jackson? Are you working with developers that will move into Crete and develop property now that the detention center is not coming to “small-town” Crete? Do share.
As a matter of fact, I would strongly encourage you to share all those developers’ contact names and numbers with Mayor Michael Einhorn quickly, because he is quoted as saying, “There is nothing that will bring what this could have brought,” and, “We are in tough times now. We are not making that up.” (Good to know the good citizens of Crete have not been lied to).
Einhorn went on to say, “In the not-too-distant future there will be a day of reckoning,” and, “We may wish we had the money.” Jackson also was quoted as saying, “This is how democracy was designed to work.”
Do you intend to follow the same democracy path near Peotone with your beloved airport? What happens to the third airport if the “people speak” and decide they don’t want their “small-town feel” disrupted?
What does the airport do to Crete’s “small-town feel?”
At a minimum, Crete will be in the center of a flight path, or better yet on the north end of a runway to nowhere. As I have mentioned, if not Crete, where? The Southland needed this project. Crete-Monee School District 201U faces the same impending pension challenges and cutbacks as every other school district in the Southland.
I assure you, Supt. Dr. John Rodgers, the District 201U School Board and all the taxpayers of the district could have used the $1 million in tax revenue the facility potentially would have generated.
Village administrator Tom Durkin said “the comfort level wasn’t there. ... We kind of nailed down that last piece of the puzzle, about what the financial expectations were.”
“The number they spoke of was not what the village felt was appropriate,” Durkin said.
$90,000 per year in state reimbursements from the population increase due to detainees essentially being residents, and a $1,000,000 property tax boost, wasn’t appropriate? Since you didn’t disclose the number, what would have been the number that would have been appropriate? What price tag did you put on the 200 permanent jobs? What was the magic number in your head for local business growth?
Let’s face it, Crete officials crumbled under the pressure from 25 percent of Crete residents and were more worried about getting re-elected than the long-term economic growth to the region. I get it, but at least say it.
You’re right Mayor Einhorn, everybody had “mixed feelings about it.” It’s not an ideal economic boost to the region, however, it’s clear it’s the only boost that was coming.
The Southland needed this project regardless of public pushback and Chicago influence. Immigration laws need to be enforced, and this facility gave detainees due process in an environment that is not Cook County Jail where they sit today.w
The day of reckoning has arrived; it arrived when politics got in the way of progress.
John Doolin is an Oak Forest resident and South Division advertising director for Sun-Times Media.