Last week, The Review sat down simultaneously with advocates for both the pro- and anti-video gaming groups in Forest Park. We had a spirited but cordial hour and that debate will be the basis next week when the Review makes its editorial position on this contentious issue very plain.
This week though we do have thoughts on the funds being plowed into the pro-gaming campaign by the biggest beneficiaries of video gambling in Forest Park and those are the gaming companies themselves.
When we talked last week, we asked gaming supporters and bar owners Jim Watts and Lynn Sorice to preview the legally required quarterly financial disclosures due to state election officials by Oct. 15. At that point, the number being bandied about in town was that Let Forest Park Grow had raised $35,200. Watts and Sorice said the actual amount raised was closer to $60,000 but they hesitated to answer how much of that money came from gaming companies vs. local bar owners or others.
Well, mid-day Monday their Oct. 15 report hit the internet. And yes, the amount raised to date was $59,200, just less than $60,000. The new news was the percentage of the total that came from gaming companies. A staggering 99.1 percent — $58,700 — came from a total of four gaming concerns.
Just $1,500 has been raised locally to date and that represents donations from just two local bar owners. Jim Watts of O’Sullivan’s Public House is in for $500 while Martin and Lynn Sorice, who own multiple local spots, have contributed $1,000.
We’re not surprised that gaming operators are the majority of the money on the table. We are surprised that these four companies are virtually the sole funders of this campaign. And we’re surprised that other local bar owners haven’t yet contributed to the pot.
On the expense side, through mid-September, $32,000 has been spent on the direct mail pieces blanketing the village. A couple of thousand went to McGaffer’s to host an event. And $649 was paid to the Review for advertising.
All legal. All interesting.
The rusty water tower
We’ve been looking at the rusted-out CTA water tower at the far end of the Green Line for a long time. Looks like hell.
But we all got a new view just last week when the Review posted a drone video of notable spots around these villages. Everything looked sharp and ship-shape until the CTA’s water tower came into focus. Looks worse from the air than from ground level.
A year ago we updated the story about how this water tower, constructed in 1967, came to be so ignored. Regular complaints from officials in both Forest Park and River Forest get absolutely nowhere. The latest information from the CTA is that they lack the funds to either paint it or demolish it. So it sits, a bucket of rust, a mammoth eyesore. And with the CTA perpetually strapped for cash, an unlikely recipient of a fix.