A view of Soldier Fields from the east. Credit: Sea Cow via Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

In a case of perfect timing, the MAGA six handed down their decision annihilating affirmative action in the name of “meritocracy” as another local municipality offered the Bears a handout they, the Bears, didn’t need, deserve, or earn.

Proving, again, that meritocracy doesn’t exist in the real world—only in the fantasies of MAGA Supreme Court justices.

Actually, there’s always going to be a little affirmative action for the Bears. As they affirm their right to get as much action as they can—no matter how poorly they play.

And, to remind you, they’re playing very poorly—the league’s worst record last year. Probably won’t do much better this year.

And yet they have their big Bears paw out, seeking a subsidy for a new stadium because apparently Soldier Field—which Chicago taxpayers already subsidized—isn’t good enough.

The latest town to offer the Bears a handout is Aurora—the offer came in a letter to Bears CEO Kevin Warren from Mayor Richard Irvin.

You must remember Mayor Irvin. He’s the moderate who tried to pawn himself off as MAGA in exchange for roughly $50 million in campaign contributions from Citadel CEO Kenneth Griffin.

Didn’t work. Oh, Irvin got Griffin’s campaign donations. But Darren Bailey clobbered him in the Republican primary, despite all those Griffin-financed commercials.

In his letter to the Bears, Irvin wrote

“The opportunity to partner with the historic Chicago Bears as you search for the perfect new home is one we are eager to take on.”

Which sounds similar to the letter Waukegan mayor Ann B. Taylor wrote in her letter to Warren . . . 

“Our City’s staff and I invite you and your leadership team to come to Waukegan to learn about the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity our City can offer the Bears.”

Which sounds similar to what Naperville mayor Scott Wehrli wrote in his letter to Warren . . .

“We have several available or to-be-available sites that may fit the characteristics you are looking for in your future home.”

Of the three, I’d say Naperville is the most pathetic.

Think about it. Naperville is widely viewed as one of the most livable cities in America—a real Pleasant Valley with public schools that are second to none. So, why, oh, why do they need the Bears?

Short answer—they don’t. Longer answer—it’s still, they don’t.

All the Bears will bring Napervillians is more traffic on Sunday and higher property taxes year round as Naperville’s leaders hike everyone else’s property tax bills to underwrite the cost of the Bears stadium.

In reality, Naperville—like Aurora and Waukegan, for that matter—has little chance to win the Bears. Arlington Heights remains the front-runner in this race to the bottom since the Bears already own the old Arlington Heights racetrack.

However, negotiations with Arlington Heights and surrounding school districts have apparently hit a snag. The Bears want “property tax certainty.” And those school districts don’t want to give it to them.

If the schools up their offer and bow to the Bears’s demands, it will be in part because of the leverage from Naperville, Waukegan, and Aurora. So in reality, all these municipalities will have accomplished with their Hail Mary offer to the Bears will be to raise property taxes on Arlingtonians or whatever you call people who live in Arlington Heights.

It’s symbolic of everything that’s wrong with “economic development” these days. Corporations pit one town against another in a Hunger Games-like battle to see which set of taxpayers they can squeeze the most money from.

What’s going on with the Bears is a mini version of what went down five years ago, when hundreds of municipalities throughout the country shamelessly offered Amazon billions of dollars to build a headquarters in their community.

Boy, do they all look foolish now.

Again, back to the Bears . . .

They insist they’re not looking for a “handout.” In this regard, I gotta give the Bears credit. They got wise. They realize that the more honest they are about what they’re seeking, the more opposition they will stir. So they don’t ask for a TIF subsidy—which they may also get.

No, they ask for “property tax certainty.” That’s just a euphemism for capping the amount they have to pay in property taxes, no matter how much their property grows in value.

Which, of course, amounts to a handout. The less money the Bears pay in property taxes, the more money they get to keep for themselves. And the more money that ordinary taxpayers pay in property taxes to compensate for the tax dollars that Arlington Heights (or Waukegan, or Naperville) isn’t getting from the Bears.

It’s not complicated, people.

Meanwhile, back in Chicago . . .

Mayor Brandon Johnson recently met with Warren to basically say—hey, don’t forget about us.

At the moment, the two most prominent Chicago sites for the Bears are what are widely called the Roeder and Cobb locations. Well, I call them that anyway.

Let me explain.

The Roeder site is a rebuilt Soldier Field. It’s named for David Roeder, the Chicago Sun-Times writer who has been championing it.

The Cobb site is the abandoned U.S. Steel plant at 83rd and Lake Michigan. So named for political strategist Delmarie Cobb, who’s been championing it as a location for the Bears.

As a friend to both, I will now play the neutral judge . . .

Sorry, Dave—but I’m with Delmarie on this one. If we’re going to spend money on the Bears, might as well spend it on a site that needs it the most.

It’s embarrassing that the city has allowed that 400-acre swath of land, right there on the lakefront, to remain a toxic wasteland since the plant closed about 50 years ago.

Chicago should have cleaned that site up years ago. They should clean it up with or without the Bears. But you know how it goes around here—this city rarely does the right thing when there’s so much money to be made doing something else.

And there’s nothing meritorious about that.

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