When Is Obama Going to Call Out Mayor Daley?

Posted: Feb 24, 2009 3:47 PM
President Obama has promised he would hold America's mayors accountable for their stimulus spending, but he sure is giving his hometown mayor a free pass.

"If a federal agency proposes a project that will waste that money, I will not hesitate to call them out on it and put a stop to it.... if a local government does the same, I will call them out on it and use the full power of my office and our administration to stop it," Obama vowed at recent mayors meeting.

Yet, Chicago Mayor Daley still hasn't been told "no" to his plans to use up to $20 billion in stimulus funds to pay for his O'Hare Airport Modernization Project that's riddled with corruption and fraud.

I've written about this project before, but more has happened since my that column was posted. Former Governor Rod Blagojevich's top fundraiser has been charged in a related scam.

Blagojevich's top fundraiser, Chris Kelly, is facing 11 counts of mail fraud and six counts of money laundering for a bid-rigging scheme he conducted to route $8.5 million in inflated roofing contracts to his commerical roofing company to do work on the project.

Five other commpanies are also being investigated by authorities to determine if they were awarded contracts fairly to do work at the airport. The brother of an influential alderman is being targeted in a probe to determine if there was women and minority-owned business fraud related to the project.

While all of this is going on Daley is still pushing the project. So the real question is when is Obama going to tell him NO?

Daley's Chief Spokesman Roderick Drew has confirmed Daley is seeking stimulus money to pay for part of OMP.  “We have applied for stimulus funding and I can confirm that Chicago mayor, Ray Daley is currently in talks about securing funding for the OMP," Drew said.  "In theory every project that is undertaken at the airport in the next two years is eligible for funding. However, I do not know if any particular schemes have been earmarked for funding or details of the funding timetable.”

Mayor Daley previously indicated he would conceal details of his plans to spend stimulus money from the press.

"We did not put that out publicly because once you start putting it out publicly, you know, the newspapers, the media is going to be ripping it apart," Daley said earlier this month.