Friday, September 9, 2011

Aldermen back Emanuel push for Chicago casino

The Chicago City Council met yesterday and here's one of the measures that had passed:
The City Council today backed Mayor Rahm Emanuel's push to get Gov. Pat Quinn to sign off on a major gambling expansion that would bring a casino to Chicago.

One after another stood up to say a casino would bring new jobs and generate $20 million a month or so that Emanuel has pledged to use to rebuild the city.

“Governor, sign this bill, it’s a no brainer,” said Ald. Richard Mell, 33rd, who has long advocated a casino for the city.

Emanuel has been pushing Quinn to sign a major gambling expansion bill. The governor has expressed deep reservations, saying it's "top heavy" and could weaken gambling oversight. Lawmakers have yet to send him the bill.

“This is not a tax increase,” said Ald. Ray Suarez, 31st. “Give Chicago a chance to have a casino. Give Chicago a chance to use that money on infrastructure, which is badly needed.”
The leaders of the city's Black and Latino caucuses - Howard Brookins (21st) and Daniel Solis (25th) - have supported this resolution in favor of bringing a casino to Chicago.

According to WBEZ here's the politics of the gaming expansion push coming out of Springfield:
Despite delays and debunked predictions—and a never-ending wait for Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision on a gambling expansion bill—supporters of expanded gambling in Illinois say they expect to find common ground by Oct. 25, the first day of the fall veto session.

The bill, stalled for months due to policy differences, political infighting and Quinn’s reluctance to increase gambling venues, remains a top priority.

But the waiting game may be ending soon. Unless Quinn outlines his concerns “in short order,” legislative leaders will present him with their own version of a clean-up gaming bill, known as a trailer bill, that will tighten control over the proposed Chicago-owned casino, according to State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), House sponsor of the bill. Other revisions may be coming as well, Lang said.

The options will be limited: Any change risks losing a vote on a bill that was a delicate balance of interests among Chicago, struggling cities such as Danville and Rockford that want new casinos, the horse racing industry and places like Joliet and Aurora where existing casinos fought the increased competition.

An amendatory veto, which would allow Quinn to change the bill and send it back to lawmakers for a re-vote, would be an unwise choice, Lang said.
As for that city council resolution, here's why Rahm Emanuel and city aldermen are pushing for a Chicago casino:

The Black and Hispanic Caucuses successfully pushed a measure through the full City Council on Wednesday. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, an ardent supporter of gaming expansion, said the casino revenue would go toward renovating up to 25 schools, rebuilding CTA “L” tracks and replacing miles of leaky city water mains.

Alderman Will Burns of the 4th Ward says council members want the money for repairs.

“Right now, there’s a real question about whether there’s going to be the resources available to fix the infrastructure that people depend on us to repair. And we need the revenue. That’s the bottom line. I think that’s why the resolution earned the support it did today,” Burns said.
And expect there to be more movement on gaming expansion soon out of Springfield:

For another, the bill that passed the legislature in May is not even on Quinn’s desk yet. In an unusual legislative gambit, John Cullerton, the Senate president, is holding the bill in his chamber, fearing that the governor will veto it. By delaying, he is buying time for continuing negotiation. Once the bill reaches Quinn, he must act within 60 days or it becomes law.

Lang, along with the Senate sponsor, Terry Link (D-Waukegan), and Cullerton (D-Chicago), have been waiting for more specifics from the governor on which parts of the bill make him uncomfortable. So far, the governor has not been forthcoming. Lang and other bill proponents spent months creating a bill with the right ingredients to win approval from a diverse General Assembly. The bill passed the House with only five votes to spare. It squeaked through the Senate with the bare minimum 30 votes. If Quinn vetoes the bill, lawmakers would need to override his action with supermajorities in both chambers. Supporters would need six more votes in the House and six more in the Senate — likely to be an impossible threshold on such a controversial piece of legislation.

The more realistic option is to create a trailer bill that addresses Quinn’s concerns while keeping the original bill’s vote intact. Starting over, bill sponsors said, is not an option. Many lawmakers who voted against the bill opposed it on moral grounds or voted no to protect existing casinos in their districts, which would be hurt by the competition. Ten casinos already exist in Illinois. There is one each in Elgin, Aurora, East Peoria, East St. Louis, Metropolis, Rock Island and Alton; Joliet has two. The 10th casino opened in July in Des Plaines.
What do you think about Chicago getting a casino in the future?

1 comment:

  1. Under Jim Thompson's administration he promised that lottery money would be used for public schools throughout Illinois. This did not happen, and now, yet another promise. Or shall I say, a lie...


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