After an extended period of bluster and bullying, it seems near certain that Forest Park’s bellicose bar owners have lost their final route to silence local voters on the subject of video gaming. With the decision of the Illinois Supreme Court not to hear a final appeal of a lower court ruling, that court’s approval of the effort of Let Forest Park Vote on Video Gaming to place a binding referendum on this fall’s ballot is finally heading to voters to decide.
This vote is several years overdue.
Over those years you’ve been abusive of voters on Facebook. You have demeaned our elections with your nonsense referendum questions designed to clog the ballot. And you have spent heavily at multiple levels of the legal system working to deny ballot access based on a technical argument over the headings on petition signature pages.
All of this has created a considerable divide in Forest Park and left a very sour taste in the mouths of ordinary citizens who just want a vote.
Here’s our advice to bar owners: It is time to proactively make your case for video gaming in Forest Park. Pretty simple. Explain honestly the benefits gaming has had on your business. Admit to more and necessary money in your pocket but tout renovations, charitable contributions, and a stronger competitive situation with gaming common in neighboring towns. Spell out how you’ve lived within Forest Park’s fairly stringent rules on signage and visibility of game machines, the ban on stand-alone gaming salons and how, in your collective view, gaming has not diminished the appeal of Madison Street. And make the case for how a cash-strapped village government has benefitted from a new revenue stream.
Be positive. You do have a story to tell. And let gaming opponents make their case, too, without insult and belittling.
And while it might be hard to do, we’d suggest starting with some sort of apology, or at least some humility, in explaining past actions which have been rude and actively divisive.
Bar owners might win. They might lose. But we still have a community to build.
Individualized learning, testing
Standardized tests in schools are a stressful and imperfect measure of student performance. That’s especially true in Illinois where the state blows up the testing model every two or three years and everyone from the second grader to the superintendent is left head-scratching.
That’s why we’ve been fans of ongoing testing keyed to individual students and their achievement in very particular learning modules. The real-time testing that Forest Park’s District 91 has undertaken with the FastBridge system in the past year offers teachers immediate insights into a single student’s progress. That’s actionable information.
The results of this testing and of other social and academic goals set a year ago by teachers, principals and the administration are encouraging. At a June school board meeting, Supt. Lou Cavallo reported decided progress in most areas. And where the schools fell short, it was mainly the result of having set audacious goals for improvement.
We’ll never fault those ambitions.