Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) said Wednesday he would not agree to chair the City Council’s Aviation Committee even if Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered him that powerful job.
“What makes you think I want it? At the expense of being a sell-out on the window issue?” Quinn said Wednesday.
The alderman was referring to his running feud with embattled Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans over sound reduction windows installed by the city in homes around O’Hare and Midway airports that, some residents say, stink to high heaven.
“Have you seen the ordinances that I passed?”
In early December, Quinn convinced his City Council colleagues to approve a pair of ordinances tailor-made to protect homeowners.
One would require the city to replace the stinky windows, even if the warranties have expired.
The second ordinance would require the city to inspect at least ten percent of the homes where residents have complained about the foul smell.
One month later, an initial round of environmental testing on nine homes showed the sound reduction windows may smell bad, but there is “no evidence” that the windows had “any significant impact on indoor air quality or related health concerns.”
Formaldehyde was detected in one of the nine homes, but the testing program conducted for the city from September through December by Amec Foster Wheeler Environmental Infrastructure concluded that is “most likely from sources in the home other than the windows.”
Quinn argued on that day that the jury was still out.
“We have to do more testing. That’s specifically why we passed the ordinance which calls for 10 percent of confirmed cases to be in-home tested,” he said then.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week that Quinn would have been a lock to become the new Aviation Committee chairman presiding over the $8.5 billion expansion of O’Hare Airport if not for his role in the #MeToo scandal swirling around House Speaker Michael Madigan’s political organization.
But, the newspaper reported that Quinn was simply too hot to handle after playing a pivotal go-between role between his own brother and political consultant Alaina Hampton, who has accused Kevin Quinn of stalking her with a series of harassing text messages.
As a result, there is a wide-open race to replace Aviation Committee Chairman Mike Zalewski (23rd), who is resigning his City Council seat, effective May 31.
By claiming up-front that he’s not even interested in the powerful job with a modest, $109,496-a-year budget, Quinn avoids any political embarrassment when Emanuel chooses somebody else.
Earlier this week, the latest tally of smelly window complaints investigated by the city showed that nearly 450 homes near O’Hare and Midway — 55 percent of those tested — have tested positive for a foul odor emanating from sound reduction windows.
The pace of complaints lodged with city officials slowed considerably this winter, with 39 calls from homeowners near Midway and 14 from homeowners near O’Hare during January, February and March, officials said.
Quinn said he planned to launch an outreach campaign to residents of his Southwest Side ward near Midway to schedule testing once the weather warms up for good.
Arguing that “a lot of questions still remain,” Quinn said he wants to see all of the different brands of windows tested to see if they emit noxious gases as well as the material used to install the windows.
“From my vantage point, a lot of work still needs to be done on this issue. … You can’t draw any conclusions from nine homes” tested in the first round, he said.
By April 30, the Department of Aviation plans to send letters to owners of all “eligible” homes where sound installation has been installed to invite them to have the air quality in their homes tested.
“I want all the homes tested. … We are going to drill down on this issue,” Quinn said.