O'HARE — Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday he will not appoint Northwest Side Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) to the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, despite the alderman's repeated requests for a seat on the board charged with alleviating O'Hare Airport noise.
Emanuel praised Catherine Dunlap, who has represented the 41st Ward on the noise commission since 2011.
Dunlap "has brought a wealth of experience to the position, and in her role as chairwoman of the technical committee, she has helped identify and promote ways to reduce aircraft noise," according to a statement from the mayor's office.
Napolitano said he was disappointed by the mayor's decision.
"This hurts the 41st Ward, which needs true representation," Napolitano said Thursday.
Napolitano asked residents of the 41st Ward this week to sign a petition designed to pressure the mayor into appointing him to the noise commission. More than 1,500 people have signed it, Napolitano said.
"All we can do is keep our chin up," Napolitano said.
Napolitano first asked Emanuel in December to replace Dunlap and appoint him, but received no response.
The only member of the City Council elected with the support of the Chicago Republican Party, Napolitano has been at loggerheads with Emanuel on a number of issues.
A study conducted by former alderman and University of Illinois at Chicago Professor Dick Simpson showed Napolitano was the only member of the Council to vote with Emanuel less than 50 percent of the time, at 44 percent.
Ald. John Arena (45th) is the only alderman to represent his ward on the commission. The other wards are represented by mayoral appointees, officials said.
Napolitano said he would do a better job representing residents of Edison Park, O'Hare, Edgebrook and Norwood Park whose homes have been blanketed by jet noise.
"Right now, it is all smoke and mirrors," Napolitano said. "Nothing is being done."
In October of 2013, a new east-west runway opened as part of the $8.7 billion O'Hare Modernization Program, sending hundreds of flights over areas of the Northwest Side like North Park, Jefferson Park Edgebrook, Edison Park and Norwood Park that heard little or no jet noise in previous years.
That incensed many residents, who have inundated both elected officials and the city's official complaint hotline with tens of thousands of complaints.
The mayor is responsible for appointing the six members of the commission that represent the 36th, 38th, 39th, 40th, 41st and 45th wards, usually with the recommendation of the alderman.
Two other members of the commission represent the city as a whole, and Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans, who is also appointed by the mayor, also sits on the panel.
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