Patrick Jacknow wasn’t surprised when he found out that the progress made toward a binding referendum on video gambling has another hurdle to clear.
Jacknow, one of about 30 residents leading a petition drive to have the issue on the November ballot, filed 2,939 signatures on Aug. 8 at the village clerk’s office.
On Aug. 17, he learned that the signatures on the petitions had been officially challenged by John Hosty of the 7400 block of Warren Avenue, who is represented by the law firm of Odelson and Sterk out of Evergreen Park. Jacknow and his attorney from the Chicago law firm Ancel Glink Diamond Bush DiCianni and Krafthefer and Hosty’s attorney will be meeting in front of the village’s Electoral Board at 1 p.m., Monday, Aug. 22 at village hall to hear from both sides.
Forest Park Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz said a hearing will take place that day and both sides will have to agree on a day where the signatures will be examined, which will take place in Chicago at the Cook County Clerk’s Office.
Despite the challenge, Jacknow believes they will have enough signatures to make it on the ballot. To get a binding referendum on the ballot the group would have to get at least 25 percent of registered voters in the village to sign the petition, which means 2,304 residents.
“I’m confident our numbers are correct,” he said. “The signatures we looked up online, and they were all registered voters.”
Hosty was not available for comment, but he is the brother of former village commissioner Mark Hosty and Ted Hosty, who owns Old School Tavern in the village and would like to see video gambling allowed in the village.
Ted Hosty said his brother needed no prodding from him to object to the petition.
“He’s been vocally programming and wanted to be the objector,” he said. “The only interest he may have is that I occasionally give him a free beer.”
Bar and bar/restaurant owners like Hosty in Forest Park want video gaming and believe the idea is getting a bad rap. These business owners believe video gambling will attract more customers to their businesses and would be an added revenue stream for them and for the village.
Jacknow, who runs a real estate agency, believes the opposite will happen.
“[Forest Park] would revert back to its former self,” he said.
He means a time when there were bars in the village, but it came with other things like illegal gambling. He said people don’t mind having bars in town, but video gambling takes it a step too far and would drive residents away and property values down.
“People who move here see the charm of Madison Street,” he said. “They don’t want to see video gaming signs.”
Although local bar owners have said they would not put up signs if they were to get video gambling, Jacknow said there is nothing on the books to stop them from doing it.
“If one puts up a sign across the street from another bar, what do you think will happen?” he said. “They want to make money.”