From beginning to end, the Aug. 22 Forest Park Electoral Board meeting lasted 10 minutes, but the issue of video gambling showing up on the November ballot continues.
The meeting was the result of a challenge to signatures on petitions gathered by a group of village residents hoping to put a binding referendum on the ballot that would allow residents to vote against video gambling. The electoral board meeting took place at Forest Park Village Hall.
The challenger, John Hosty of Forest Park, was represented by the law firm of Odelson and Sterk out of Evergreen Park at the meeting. Patrick Jacknow, who is part of the group that collected the petitions, was represented by the Chicago law firm, Ancel Glink Diamond Bush DiCianni and Krafthefer.
Both sides discussed the petitions, but the electoral board said the issue of the validity of the signatures should be checked at the Cook County Clerk’s Office in Chicago. About 1,000 signatures of the 2,939 collected were challenged whereas 2,304 valid signatures are needed.
Jacknow said both sides met at the Cook County Clerk’s Office at 9 a.m., Aug. 25 for representatives of the clerk’s office to go over the challenged signatures and representatives from both sides to observe.
The Forest Park Electoral Board has a meeting scheduled for 1 p.m., Aug. 31 at village hall to discuss the findings of the clerk’s office and make a decision regarding the referendum.
Forest Park Village Attorney Tom Bastian said although the electoral board makes the final decision, that decision could be appealed.
After two days downtown at the Cook County Clerk’s Office it became clear that those opposed to video gambling in Forest Park had some work to do before that electoral board meeting.
Patrick Jacknow, who, along with other referendum supporters, had been soliciting signatures, said that as a result of the meeting they fell short by at least 275 signatures and/or addresses needed to qualify for a binding referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Since then, Jacknow and those who support the idea that the village should not have video gambling are working to get affidavits to disprove the flagged signatures and addresses in order to have them upheld.
“It’s a lot of work,” he said. “Since Sunday [Aug. 28] we started collecting affidavits.”
Getting enough affidavits verifying that those who signed the petitions were authentic would overturn the clerk’s office’s findings. That means tracking down enough people whose signatures or addresses were brought into question.
Jacknow doesn’t know if they’ll be able get enough affidavits, but he said their attorney will be asking for an extension at Wednesday’s electoral board meeting as well as presenting motions to debunk the claims of the objector as to the validity of the signatures and addresses collected. But the electoral board could also make a decision based on the evidence on hand.
Jacknow said if the latter takes place, then the village will have shown its hand.
“It will show how the village [government] really wants gaming,” he said.
The Forest Park Village Council has officially remained neutral on the issue although a large majority of local bar owners and bar restaurant owners are in favor of video gambling and supports the filing of a challenge to the petition signatures.