I write today as the Chairman of Let Forest Park Vote on Video Gaming (LFPV), and I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish, securing for all Forest Parkers the ability to exercise a binding vote on video gambling despite the well-funded and often unprincipled efforts of the gambling lobby to prevent one.
When I moved to Forest Park, I did not expect to become involved in local issues. The first thing that caught my attention was when Mayor Calderone suggested the quickly tabled saggy pants ban. I was then appalled at how the VG debate played out, culminating with the council voting it in unanimously, against the stated will of the people. The Mayor, who campaigned against video gambling meekly abstained, citing his position as liquor commissioner, despite having never abstained on a liquor related vote in at least 13 years.
LFPV has been 100% focused on giving the average Forest Parker a voice, since our representatives have not been responsive to the will of their constituents. The gambling lobby set an incredibly high threshold to bring this to a vote thinking nobody would do it. Well we did, and we are exercising the outlet that is literally written directly in the law. The cards were stacked against us, but we did the work and got the signatures. We had to raise legal funds to fight for your right to be heard, challenging the arrogantly anti-democratic decisions rendered by an inherently biased Forest Park Electoral Board, as described by the Appellate Court verdict.
You’ve witnessed the too shameful attempts to intimidate LFPV group members; a sitting Council member saw fit to attack the wives of LFPV members, even though they have been entirely apolitical, well-respected in the community, and not involved in the pro-vote movement. To date, a public apology has not been issued, and the Council has not seen fit to censure Mr. Mannix in any way.
Now you are witnessing the attempt by out-of-town lobbyists to flood your mailbox with ugly and manipulative flyers – they spent around $60,000 in the space of two weeks in an attempt to sway the vote they did not want you to have. Only $1500 of that money comes from local establishments.
Perhaps in the past people have been accustomed to top-down control, but LFPV believes that our representatives are here to serve us. Not the gaming lobby or other monied interests. The village is waking up and tides are shifting.
I want to encourage everyone to exercise the vote that we fought so hard to obtain. I also urge you to take a look at everything that has been presented and make an educated vote. Consider the long-term impact on the community, the minimal return to the village, the risk of potential lawsuits the village will need to defend, the lack of a written ban against gaming parlors, the likelihood that ugly gambling signs cannot be prevented, and the nature of video gambling as a regressive tax. Consider too the ugly tactics of intimidation employed by the bar owners and a council member to discourage people from speaking out, and to prevent you from having a vote in the first place.
In my opinion I don’t see how you can vote any way other than YES to prohibit video gaming in Forest Park.
Chairman of Let Forest Park Vote on Video Gaming