If you worry about making everybody happy, you’ll never get anything done. In fact, it’s hard enough when you don’t care about making anyone happy at all.
Just take this mess with NorthPoint Development. Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk and most of the city council didn’t seem concerned in the slightest about the relative happiness of anyone living in the vicinity of NorthPoint’s proposed monstrosity of an industrial park when they voted in favor of it more than two years ago. And in all that time, absolutely nothing has been built on the thousands of acres NorthPoint wants to see devoted to an abundance of warehouses, semitrailers and cargo containers.
Not everyone is against the NorthPoint project, of course, and maybe those are the people O’Dekirk and some of the council are so eager to please.
It would be understandable, after all, to accommodate the organizations that poured close to $40,000 into your campaign committee since the first vote went NorthPoint’s way, just like various construction interests and trade unions did with Citizens for O’Dekirk, according to the Illinois Sunshine Database.
And then there’s the $10,000 East Gate Logistics, a company managed by NorthPoint, paid to Citizens for O’Dekirk.
Yes, it only makes sense to appease the ones who are investing tens of thousands of dollars in your campaign committee instead of a bunch of farmers who probably don’t even live in the city and can’t vote for you anyway.
Those construction interests and trade unions, not to mention East Gate Logistics itself, don’t appear to be getting much back for their money, at least as far as the NorthPoint project goes. But it hasn’t seemed to discourage the developer.
In fact, it turns out that on top of the money East Gate gave O’Dekirk, NorthPoint wants to gift Joliet with a bridge over Route 53. That’s right, the city gets a brand new bridge, and it won’t cost a cent.
NorthPoint needs this bridge for the “closed loop” traffic system that’s somehow supposed to keep trucks from getting onto local roads by sending them straight to Interstate 80, which has a bridge of its own running right through Joliet, one that, if you were to put any stock in those billboards bought by Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers some years ago, should have collapsed into the Des Plaines River by now.
The I-80 bridge fell into disrepair because maintenance is pricey. But by giving the Route 53 bridge to Joliet, NorthPoint won’t have to worry about that, showing that it truly is better to give than to receive.
Since Joliet will be on the hook for NorthPoint’s bridge repairs, they may as well make some demands of the developer. Instead of a fixed bridge, for example, the city could insist on a drawbridge connecting NorthPoint to the closed loop. That way, hero City Councilman Joe Clement could order someone to raise it, cutting off the industrial park from looters and firebugs before they could wreak havoc, just like O’Dekirk said he did to save the Rialto.
That was some story about Clement saving the Rialto. If you believed it, you probably fell for those scary Local 150 billboards warning you off the I-80 bridge too.
• Joe Hosey is the editor of The Herald-News. You can reach him at 815-280-4094, at email@example.com or on Twitter @JoeHosey.