‘Thank you for asking. We sure like fun and we like money, too, but VG is not a good fit for our town. Best Wishes.”
That was Forest Park’s response to video gambling (VG) two years ago. Residents clearly stated this in a private Calderone survey by a margin of 4-1 and voters repeated it in the referendum by a 2-1 margin.
Present village council members either weren’t paying attention or they don’t respect voters’ wishes. Curiously, they took us at our word when we recently voted them into office.
The new council is play-acting (badly) to get VG back on the table:
A commish: “Geewillywhiskers, that $20M sure goes fast each year!
Another commish: “We sure would like more money — does anyone know a source of Free Money?”
The big commish: “Funny you should bring that up … have you guys ever heard of a thing called video gambling?”
Yet another commish: “Huh? I just moved here from Hanga Roa, so please tell me more.”
The last commish: “Indeed this is amazing news, but I wonder what the public thinks?”
Here’s an idea: how about y’all use the iPads we bought you to digest “what the public thinks”? The votes, the mayor’s hearing, and numerous Review articles and comments are all available on the Internet! And don’t miss the highly regarded VoxEvent that offered an in-depth, all-sides VG evening.
No matter one’s stance on video gambling, the council’s current approach is insulting. Let’s switch to other village leaders who tackled this issue two years ago.
One angle the council pursued was a two-year “analysis” of VG in other towns for evidence of serious crime and/or social degradation. The always-articulate Marty Tellalian thinks this tack is bogus: “Assessing the long-term impact of VG cannot be done simply by looking at the results of the last couple of years for some neighboring communities. The issue is far too complex, involves many stakeholders, and needs to consider the unique characteristics of Forest Park.” Tellalian adds, “Our residents have stated overwhelmingly that they do not want VG in Forest Park. That should be all elected officials need to know.”
Rory Hoskins was also against VG in Forest Park and saying, “Forest Park has done very well with existing revenue streams. I believe the social costs are more detrimental than the projected revenues are beneficial. The results of 2013 suggest that people who live in Forest Park are opposed to sanctioning gambling in this community.” Hoskins based his recent Calderone mayoral endorsement in large part on his trust, as did many voters, that Calderone would respect the referendum results.
Chris Harris believes the process was screwed up: “The real error here is that Calderone never finished the dialogue and rushed to a referendum without the educational sessions/town halls he promised [which was] a disservice to the community, business owners and all stakeholders.” True, but Vox picked up the educational slack, big time.
Steve Backman, president of Vox60130, offers this perspective: “Like it or not, our community benefits significantly from its proximity to River Forest and Oak Park [neither town allows gambling] and folks love this unique, cultural and friendly urban trifecta. A big part of that image is our lively and classy main street. The unique specialty shops and restaurants have made our Madison Street a destination in its own right. Gambling would cheapen the image that so many have worked so hard to create for little, short-term, or no return.”
Dear Readers: I’m on hiatus! Yes, taking a column vacay! Cheers.