Open Letter to Mayor Calderone and the Village Commissioners,

I will not be able to attend the video gambling hearings on October 25 and November 1, but I have two important points to make on the issue.

First, evidence from other communities suggests video gambling in Forest Park will have a negative social effect on our town and secondly, two of our village officials have a conflict of interest which would influence their vote. Video gambling is a minimal type of revenue-stream the residents of Forest Park do not need (under state law, the Village would only be entitled to 5% of the revenues!) It will bring undesirables into the community, particularly along Madison St., where so many of the lovely parades and events families and children enjoy year after year. The safety of our community, as well as our property values will take a significant hit. Would you like your child to be approached for $20 by intoxicated panhandlers looking to gamble while enjoying the St. Patrick’s Day Parade? Do we as residents want the Madison St. district, which Mayor Calderone’s administration has done a great job of beautifying over the past 15 years, regressing and turning into Mannheim Rd. in Stone Park or Roosevelt Rd. in Cicero?

Given clear conflicts of interest detailed below, it is not surprising that our officials are considering “opting-in” to allow video gambling at liquor establishments which allows the potential to have these machines in every liquor store and bar in a community which is saturated with these establishments. Commissioner Mark Hosty is the manager of Healy’s Westside. Healy’s application quite conspicuously listed no relationship between Healy’s and Hosty (as required by law) and listed “Non-Applicable.” Mayor Calderone also serves as the Liquor Commissioner and four of the establishments with gambling applications have contributed to Calderone’s campaign fund and all neglected to list these contributions on the application (also required by law). If video gambling is seriously being considered, I hope that Mayor Calderone and Commissioner Hosty appropriately recuse themselves from voting or commenting on the matter given these cut-and-dry conflicts of interest.

The meetings will be heavily-attended by bar owners and politicians, the only beneficiaries. Make your voice be heard that the negligible revenues to the Village are not worth the social detritus that video gambling will bring and that as citizens in a democracy, we will not stand to have elected officials pass laws that benefit them financially or politically.

Rory Joyce
Forest Park resident