Chicago continues to fret over the possibility of losing the NPE trade show. Freelance columnist and blogger Dennis Byrne tackles the topic in a Nov. 3 column: "Chicago overwhelmed with spineless saps." "Chicago is wimp city. A city full of obsequious voters, businesses and civic groups that have been repeatedly swindled, scammed and hosed by local politicians. Yet, with each betrayal, the serfs continue to grovel before such liege lords as Mayor Richard M. Daley and House Speaker Michael Madigan and beg for more of the same. Nothing is egregious enough to inspire insurrection by the city and state's vassals," he writes. On the subject of NPE, Byrne has done his homework:
Daley now is fighting to keep a huge national plastics industry convention from fleeing Chicago, its 40-year home. The show brought in $95.3 million last June, but it appears the exhibitors are fed up with the extravagant costs they must pay to riggers, tradesmen and other organized workers at McCormick Place. As the trade publication Plastics News reported, Daley met Wednesday in his office with convention officials to plead with them to stay. The problem? As trade show exhibitor Tim Hanrahan explained in the publication, it cost $345 to get four cases of Pepsi to his booth. "The invoice breaks down to $254 for the four cases of Pepsi, a 21 percent service charge, and a 10.25 percent Illinois state sales tax, a 3 percent Chicago soft drink tax, a tax on the service charge and a food and beverage tax. Government taxes totaled $38.06, which is more than the legitimate retail price of the soft drinks," he said. "I could go on. A $640 TV stand rental is another good example," he said. "But you get the point." Hanrahan gets the point, but do we? For the sake of a special interest -- organized labor in this case -- the body politic seems willing to drive away business that brings dollars into town. To finance the greed and corruption endemic here, we tolerate punishing taxes on the very businesses we plead with to stay.As I've said before -- plastics industry, you've got Chicago's attention. Will it make a difference? Will the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. get a better deal from McCormick Place in 2012 and 2015 -- or will it decide to give Orlando, Fla., a try instead? Stay tuned.