The Federal Aviation Administration today announced that it is taking legal action against the City of Chicago for its closure of Meigs Field, proposing the maximum fines allowed by law, and investigating possible misuse of federal aviation funds totaling over $1.5 million. The agency, in a press release, announced it is proposing the maximum penalty allowed by law for the improper closure of Meigs Field without notice during the night of March 30, 2003. The fine of $33,000 represents the maximum of $1,100 per day for thirty days. Federal regulations require 30-day notice of the closure of airports like Meigs. After Meigs' closure, Congress was so outraged, it passed a law, dubbed "The Meigs Act" increasing the fine to $10,000 per day for future incidents in the U.S. "This proves we've been correct from the start," said Steve Whitney, president of the Friends of Meigs Field. "The City closed Meigs illegally and under false pretenses. They should apologize and make amends." While more details need to be disclosed, the FAA's announcement seems to indicate the agency did not find any "emergency" for closing Meigs Field. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley had cited unspecific fears of "terrorism" for closing Meigs, but in reality has sought for years to close the downtown reliever airport for a city park. Perhaps more significant than the fines proposed by the FAA, is the announcement that the agency has initiated an investigation into the possible misuse of over $1.5 million in restricted federal aviation funds for the demolition of Meigs Field. If the City is found to have misused these funds and refuses to repay them, it could be liable for triple damages, or nearly $5 million in fines. All of the fines proposed would come from city funds. "We are heartened by today's decision," said Whitney. "While the findings will not force the re-opening of the airport by themselves, they add credibility and force to our efforts. We applaud the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for pursuing this complaint so diligently." The AOPA initiated the complaint with the FAA against the City of Chicago immediately after the closure last year, and the Friends of Meigs Field provided valuable information about the specifics of the closure, the timeline, and the City's actions. The Friends of Meigs Field continue to work toward a compromise plan to re-open Meigs Field as a combination park/airport/air museum for the citizens of Chicago. Details of this "Parks and Planes" proposal are available at www.friendsofmeigs.org Instead of the huge fine if Daley and clan is found guilty of such corruption (for once, hurray!!!), they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law instead of holding the whole city hostage for things they didn't do. Anyways, found that clip of press that's not to do with national politics for your reading enjoyment (at least on the US side of things).