Pot vs. video gaming

Opinion: Editorials

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Speaking of pot dispensaries, the new owner of the longtime R Place property on south Harlem says he'd potentially welcome a recreational marijuana shop in his building. He is also open to a new bar or restaurant use.

The site has advantages. Easy access for customers from multiple communities with its Harlem address. Plenty of parking, too. And proposed dispensary zoning to be considered by the village council later this month includes this portion of Harlem.

Time will tell. 

While it is sad to see the closing of the locally owned and always locally generous R Place, we do push back on social media posters seeking to link the ban on video gaming approved by voters in town to the potential emergence of marijuana being sold in Forest Park. 

These are two fully distinct and unrelated issues. In two public hearings last fall, it was clear there is no notable opposition to pot sales in Forest Park. The village council has been transparent in considering this issue.  

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William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 10th, 2020 4:35 AM

Oh, I'm nor going to try to prove you wrong Racanelli- just point out that you don't read very well. I didn't say every election was the result of critical thought. What I said- read it again, it's right down below this post- is that in the specific case of the FoPa referendum, YOU apparently thought there was no critical thinking, that it was just a popularity contest. By all means, you keep thinking that after three years of back and forth, and lots of pointed and heated argument, that folks in FoPa voted in a popularity contest rather than consider both the facts and the way both sides conducted themselves. I wouldn't dream of trying to disabuse you of your opinion. My goal here was simply to try and show others how baseless your opinion is.

Michelle Andres Fitz-Henry  

Posted: January 9th, 2020 6:13 PM

Many of the bars that had gambling have been part of Forest Park for many years. VG was only approved for 2 years beginning in 2016. If not having VG crippled an establishment it seems reasonable that there were other issues going on. As far as "Calderone and the commissioners were elected to make those decisions" - I agree if everyone plays by the rules. That didn't happen. Calderone was elected, true. He also ran on an anti-gaming platform. That also is true. He received the endorsement of Rory Hoskins in 2015 for a few reasons, one of the big ones being that they shared the "the same position on video gaming." Mayor Calderone won that election by only 86 votes. I know people that voted for him because of his no VG position. It's likely why he won. I don't think that is a surprise to anyone. That said, those elected officials wanted input from their constituents regarding VG. They sought it out. A survey was sent with a water bill and the results were overwhelmingly against allowing VG in Forest Park. Then - they sought public input a second time on an election ballot as a non-binding referendum. So they got their answer for a second time. Same answer. In hindsight I am sure they are sorry they asked at all. But they did. What they did with it - well that's another story for another day. They got their answer and Forest Park got its answer for the third time the residents were asked - in one of the largest voter turnouts on record in the last election. This was no "small group of people" and to say it was a popularity contest seems to insinuate that you don't find Forest Parkers to be informed voters. I think they are. But if it was in fact a popularity contest - maybe people don't like to be hoodwinked when casting their ballot. Maybe they want the people they are voting for to run on a platform they actually believe in. Maybe when asked for their input they want it to be taken seriously. Perhaps doing otherwise proved to be "unpopular

Amy Binns-Calvey  

Posted: January 9th, 2020 12:33 PM

It's so interesting to me that people have chimed in (including myself) with specific video gambling concerns that don't apply to marijuana dispensaries, but they aren't acknowledged. The businesses in FP who could have earned money from VG were established before VG. I don't know, but I imagine their original business plans did not include income from gambling. It's very sad to when local businesses close, but I also imagine that there are other factors involved besides just the income from VG. In the end, voters decided the VG issue. Hopefully we can all move forward from here.

Michael Racanelli  

Posted: January 9th, 2020 9:43 AM

Prove me wrong, Dwyer. I laughed out loud when I read that you think critical thinking goes into every vote people make at the ballot box. If you read my original post, I am asking for that same critical thinking to be applied to opening pot shops Madison. I am asking for some consistency from the electorate. I am still waiting to read some of the reasons why crippling existing businesses by prohibiting VG was so important yet it would be OK to have people lined up down Madison to buy weed.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 9th, 2020 7:49 AM

So, what you're saying, Racanelli, is that when 64 percent of the FoPa electorate bothered to vote on this issue, there was no critical thinking, it was just a "popularity contest?? What a sad, cheap view of democracy you have. Me? I believe that, after nearly three years of argument and discussion, people actually formed opinions and expressed them at the ballot box. But don't let me disturb world view about elections being about popularity rather than critical thought. It's clearly important to you.

Michael Racanelli  

Posted: January 9th, 2020 6:45 AM

Thank you for proving my point. This was a popularity contest and It never was about VG to begin with All the lost jobs and lost revenue were just collateral damage. Calderone and the commissioners were elected to make those decisions and it should have stayed with them, but that is not the debate we are having here. The newspaper was the furthest this from fair and balanced. Going so far as to put a paper on every threshold in town urging them which way to vote the week of the election. The SMALL group of very determined social engineers were able to use the paper as weapon prove how powerful they could be. And the result was business values were slashed in half. Years of hard work and community support went for naught and many jobs were lost. If these people really are the social do-gooders they claim to be or if their real concern is the aesthetics of Madison St., then explain how a bunch of stoners forming a line down the block and waiting to get their fix is somehow better then having slots tucked away in the back of a bar.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 8th, 2020 8:37 PM

I laughed out loud as I read that the video gambling vote was "about a small group of people proving they could sway voters with the help of the town"s only newspaper." The documented FACT is that for more than two years, two people- a then-current village commissioner and a former village commissioner, used a series of cheap, underhanded tricks to keep voters from being able to have a say on the issue, while the former mayor and his cronies improperly denied petitions for a referendum, a decision that was overturned by an unbiased court. The newspaper only called attention to Mark Hosty and Tom Mannix's deceit in filing bogus referenda meant solely to block other referenda from being on the ballot in two elections. As for the anti-video gambling camp being a "small group," well, the 3,279 people who voted against video gambling was more than the 3,112 who voted for it. So "small" is a relative thing here. What really happened here is that democracy, with an asset from a free and unfettered press, finally won out over cheap political cynicism and well-financed special interests..

Art Kazar from Forest Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2020 5:39 PM

Everything I've read about the VG industry in Illinois shows that there is a heavy crime syndicate influence. That's one of the reasons I voted against having VGn in Forest Park. I would do the same for recreational pot stores if the mob/outfit moved in.

Michael Racanelli  

Posted: January 8th, 2020 3:38 PM

Alright then. list just some of the hundreds of reasons why it was so important to cripple businesses that had been an integral part of the community for so many years. It would presumptuous to think you were forcing your morals on the rest of us. But please explain how is it OK to buy weed on Madison but not OK play some slots?

Jerry Webster  

Posted: January 8th, 2020 2:10 PM

Now that pot is legal will the police bust current non legal pot sellers? They are still out there.

Amy Binns-Calvey  

Posted: January 8th, 2020 1:59 PM

There were probably as many reasons why a majority of Forest Park residents voted to ban video gambling as there were voters who voted against it. As someone who worked to get the issue of VG on the ballot, I can state strongly that VG and marijuana dispensaries are completely different issues. It is a mistake to think that those who advocated against VG did it for moral issues. It is also a mistake to think that those who advocated against VG were doing so as some sort of alleged power play against local politician(s). To take only one VG concern and compare it to a dispensary: VG would have impacted many of the establishments on Madison, very much changing the character of the area, whereas there will most likely be only one dispensary in town. It seems obvious to say this, but video gambling is not marijuana.

Michael Racanelli  

Posted: January 8th, 2020 11:09 AM

Lets take a look at the reasons Forest Park voters insisted video gaming was bad for the town and apply those same concerns to having dispensaries in town. I believe the results would be very similar, but I doubt that will happen because it was never about video gaming to begin with. It was about a small group of people proving they could sway voters with the help of the town"s only newspaper. They won...empty storefronts, lost revenue, and lost jobs are just collateral damage.

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