I would like to take a moment to address a few items that were brought up in the recent article regarding video gaming and the recent filing of a petition to ban video gaming throughout Forest Park. The people who are supporting the petition are trying to frame the conversation about this topic as being pro-democracy and not anti-gaming or anti-business. This could not be further from the truth. The petition only has one stated goal, to ban video gaming. This is not a pro-democracy movement. This is a small group of people who are in to win at all costs, no matter what it does to the community. This topic pitted neighbor against neighbor before gaming was legalized. Now that we have about 6 months of real data, it has proven not to be the horrible destroyer of our community fabric that it was being sold as when 75% of the petitions were signed over 15 months ago. The Village has very wisely put into place strict regulations to make sure our town does not look like a mini Las Vegas. The sky has not fallen and revenues are starting to flow into the Village coffers. We may not be able to cure the larger Village debt, but we are certainly helping the funding, not hurting it.
So why are we challenging the petition? In a democracy, there are checks and balances. As the anti-gaming people certainly have the right to file a petition, the pro-video gaming people have the same right to challenge the petition. They claim to have 3,493 signatures. Here are some facts: 475 people signed more than once, several up to 4 times. On a signature review over 975 signatures were found to be not registered, not at the address listed, not alive, or not even listed in Forest Park. The language used in the petition stated that you were signing for the next scheduled election. That is not true. The anti-group held 75% of the petitions past the next election and presented them well over a year later. This has nothing to do with a glut of petitions on the ballot, but a lack of knowledge of how the system works.
I will continue to fight within the laws we have to protect the financial viability of Forest Park. With the constant attacks on the business community, how much outside investment do you think people will make in this town? Not only will we not attract new investment, but it also devalues the investments made by businesses that are already here. I am often asked why this business or that business is investing in another community instead of Forest Park. The answer is simple, people who invest do not like uncertainty.
I will continue to lead a charge against those who play on emotions to serve their purpose instead of presenting facts. It is not about a vote, it is about hurting businesses and the local government for future political purpose. Do not believe the whisper campaign, look at the facts.