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Bensenville: Fort Sumter for Illinois’ Civil War with Chicago?

By JoshMogerman in News on Dec 10, 2011 9:00PM

Seal of Cook County, IL Carpet [juggernautco]

Would Chicago be better off without downstate Illinois? Goodness knows every post about the General Assembly on this site elicits the same question, but we didn’t think anyone was serious about the idea. But in a session where the state Legislature has undertaken one seemingly stupid concept after another, two downstate representatives may have taken the cake with a resolution to eject Cook County from the Land of Lincoln. Samantha trashed the idea when it emerged and the Sun-Times has a good story outlining all the obvious reasons why this is just a stupid concept (with an oddly garbled headline---“Making a Chicago a state shows Illinois’ deep divide”) that continues to make the case for the disservice our officials in Springfield are doing for the entire state with time-sucks like this resolution. This damning statement from one of the resolution authors sums it up nicely:

"Quite frankly, I would rather be Indiana than what we're existing right now, in terms of the absolute mess that we see in Springfield," said Rep. [Bill] Mitchell.

Really? Hoosiers don’t even dream of Indiana in those aspirational terms…

But let’s suspend our disbelief for a moment... What if this was to come to pass? Despite decades of saber rattling in Congress, the Civil War did not really begin until the attack on Fort Sumter. Where would the Chicago-“Illinois” hostilities boil over? We think the obvious flashpoint for this conflict would be Bensenville. The acrimony over O’Hare’s expansion pushed the border community into a proudly anti-Chicago hotspot where signs are displayed boasting "No Cook County taxes." And we will certainly need all of our airports.

What else? The massive outlet malls in Aurora and Gurnee would be lost. As would Six Flags. And most of our professional sports franchise practice facilities (we think it's time for those guys to move back into the City anyway). We would have to say goodbye to FermiLab and the Morton Arboretum. But we are hardpressed to come up with much worth battling for aside from the corporate headquarters that would be forced to choose a side quickly.

That said, perhaps in true Chicago fashion, we can make a deal with our Illinois bretheren (heck, half of the writers on this site are from downstate). Afterall, plenty of communities have threatened to secede from Cook County in recent years over tax issues. What could we get in swapping Palatine, Barrington and Hanover Townships?

We ask you, oh Chicagoistas, not that this stupid waste of time and energy effort will ever come to pass, but what should the County of Cook be looking to bring along on the ride to being the 51st state in the Union?