Let's focus our energy on growing

Opinion: Letters to the editor

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We have all noticed the slogan from the Pro-Gambling group, "Let Forest Park Grow". Their slogan implies growth in the village will be suppressed by "Voting to Prohibit." Ironically, the only suppression done the last few years was by the gambling proponents and their allies on the village council and Election Board who chose to suppress your right to vote. "Voting YES to prohibit Gambling" is not about stifling growth. It is a vote to take back Forest Park from the few who want to exploit us. It is a vote that will remind the village administration how upset we are over their choice to ignore the will of the voters and force video gambling on the town. It is a vote to end the funneling of money out of this town through regressive taxation. It is a vote to grow the charm and family-oriented community we hold so dear.

We have yet to see any substantial growth for our village as a result of gambling. Our village fees have only increased. Some businesses that hosted these machines have shuttered or are silently listed for sale. VG only benefits a handful of bar owners. For every dollar gambled and lost, the bars and machine operators pocket 70 cents while the village brings in one nickel. What they call growth is really a scheme for easy money meant to bailout their faltering business on the backs of our neighbors.

So why do we need gambling to grow? Simply, we don't. What we need is to reinvigorate the entrepreneurial spirit. This village has a great opportunity to reinvent itself. Let's embrace new businesses that can give an economic boon to Forest Park, and encourage struggling businesses to change with the times. Why dive into an oversaturated gambling market instead of looking towards other sectors of the economy? Acquiring innovative businesses to set Forest Park apart from surrounding cities is what will drive an influx of visitors, jobs, and revenue in to our town, not out. We need to build momentum for future growth rather than rely on quick profits that come with considerable social costs, and no guarantees for future success. 

Forest Park is changing and that scares some people clinging to a bygone era, desperately preying on your fears of an underfunded Village and empty storefronts. They argue that our economy is still driven by bars that can only stay competitive in a free market by relying on gambling. They convinced our local government to over-ride the will of the public and force gambling on a skeptical town. Is this village a democracy or just another example of Chicago's old school crony capitalism at work? Bar owners claim they are having a hard time, but seem to have an endless supply of cash to fight your right to vote all the way to the Supreme Court of Illinois. Thankfully, over 3000 residents said, "ENOUGH" by signing the petition that gives all of us a chance to vote on this issue, and some even chipped in for the lawyer needed to fight and secure our right to vote. This November, let's focus our energy back to the growth of our village by Voting YES to Prohibit Video Gaming in Forest Park.

Daniel Marcus

Forest Park resident

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Robert C. Cox  

Posted: October 16th, 2018 3:40 PM

My esteemed Urban planning Professor Charlie Hock at UIC told us to be able to pitch an idea at least five different ways... I guess this is about #4 There is a range of alternative businesses that presently are not serving the FP community. There will alway be a place, watering hole that locals love and are loyal to, but should that be the dominating economic development concern? I see the bigger picture on nuisance ordinances and the complex ways to avoid them or have to correct them to be considered in the VG issue. Is it the best public policy for the common good? Voters will have to decide, policy makers will have to learn, and Bar' Tavern businesses will have to evolve on merits like service and social responsibility and respect for the neighborhood. There are no seedy dives in FP to mention and attack. This is a community quality of life issue more than a transactional revenue thread issue.

Geoff Binns-Calvey  

Posted: October 16th, 2018 12:43 AM

Robert, let me save you some steps. If you go to the www.letfpvote.com website, go to the bottom of the page, and click on "Further Reading", you'll find a number of scholarly articles and research papers that show the problems that invariably come along with gambling, particularly video gambling terminals. They are designed to be addictive, and putting them literally on every corner does the greater community no good.

Robert C. Cox  

Posted: October 15th, 2018 5:38 PM

Eva Dudzik Id be happy to contact Gambler Anonymous and request their research. It's real and so are the facts from AA too.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: October 15th, 2018 11:40 AM

Pam. You really have to make more of an effort to know what you're talking about. Mark Hosty is NOT a private citizen. In April he was elected Illinois Republican State Central Committeeman for the 7th District. And John. I confirmed many months ago that I (one) didn't care one way or another about video gambling, and (two) that I think your brothers and his partner Tom Mannix are underhanded sleaze balls. Glad you finally caught on.

Pam Fontana  

Posted: October 15th, 2018 11:31 AM

I am not a fan of Mark Hosty or Tom Mannix but just because of them I don't want VGing removed from FP. Mark is now a private citizen that owns bars and real estate. Mannix is leaving FP politics (what is it he ever did while there???) Eva, stop drinking the anti-gamers koolaid; children are not allowed to gamble and if the establishment doesn't serve food, they aren't even allowed inside it in the first place. Eva, do you even frequent any of the places that offer gaming right now? Has it affected you badly in any way or did you witness something illegal occurring or just something someone told you? Curious what you base your decision on other than the children, that can't gamble.

John R. Hosty Jr.  

Posted: October 15th, 2018 9:22 AM

So Bill finally confirms while he doesn't live in FP anymore- his key driver is NOT VG, but his disdain for 2 key figures in FP. These 2 people are very pro FP and have done a lot to help move FP forward (like them personally is your choice, but they have done many positive things- while being attacked constantly by the likes of Billy boy Dwyer) Also, Eva- Children are not at risk as to comply with State guidelines VG area cordoned off. (again sky is not falling, but stripes of Anti-VG showing)

Eva Dudzik from Forest park  

Posted: October 14th, 2018 7:01 PM

I have lived here since 1977. No gambling. Why promote am illness and subject children to this. No gambling on Forest Park. Amen

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: October 13th, 2018 1:54 PM

Pam, you don't know much about the current state of affairs regarding VG in Westmont, apparently. As for FoPa, if you'd been paying the least bit of attention the past few months, you'd know that I've been pretty agnostic on VG, whether it's in FoPa or Westmont. What I DO argue "vehemently" against is dishonesty, underhanded, cheap tricks and political thuggery by people like Mark Hosty and Tom Mannix. And I'm betting I'm not alone in that view. I can't explain it any more clearly than that. Believe what you want to or need to believe. But do learn to read English better.

Pam Fontana  

Posted: October 13th, 2018 10:33 AM

Bill, you left Forest Park. Do you argue this vehemently against gaming in your current village, where I believe gaming thrives?

Pam Fontana  

Posted: October 13th, 2018 10:32 AM

So now you, Mazldik Chaim Yonkel, respond to your own editorial with a different name?! How clever of you. On a different note, you support pro video gaming by saying new businesses ARE opening in FP! Show they aren't afraid of gaming, as you are.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: October 12th, 2018 4:07 PM

I spent nearly 60 years in Oak Park and Forest Park, and I can tell the newbies in FoPa that the people who argue that the village's economic health and viability depends on video gambling ignore the unique qualities that FoPa shares with OP and even River Forest. Proximity to the Ike, TWO rapid transit termini and Metra, an excellent park district and a great downtown are, as well as better than average. walkability and bikability. I needed to sell my house, or I'd still be in the village. Because it's a great place to live. All it needs is leadership with imagination and the guts to stand for something other than blatant self-interest. That change starts on November 6 and, hopefully, continues on April 2. Good luck. Get informed, folks.

Kc Mutchler  

Posted: October 11th, 2018 8:13 PM

Well said! We agree whole heartedly. It seems like a lot of younger families are moving to the area, and I can only speak for myself, but VG does not appeal to us. We love some of the new shops and businesses that have opened up in downtown FP. We love this community and we want to see it grow in a positive, fresh way.

Michelle Andres Fitz-Henry  

Posted: October 11th, 2018 4:39 PM

Well said Mazldik. I agree wholeheartedly. I think there is a lot of potential for growth but I don't see that without an economic and development plan. It seems one of the big complaints of the pro VG bar owners - which are certainly not all bars or restaurants (and honestly they are most likely the minority of businesses that serve alcohol) is competition. They could not compete with Berwyn and North Riverside. Then they got gambling, now that some of those bars either had them and ditched them or closed, it is Oak Park's fault for not being as "dry" as they were for the last 30 or 40 years. At some point looking inward is required - not pointing fingers at other towns as a reason why they can't succeed.

Mazldik Chaim Yonkel  

Posted: October 11th, 2018 6:58 AM

Pam. we have been lucky enough to have some new businesses recently open in town! We have new boutiques, restaurants, and many others different kinds of businesses. This proves that the spirit is alive and we only need to fan the flames. These businesses are not a result of successful VG laws. Bringing VG to Forest Park is solely to prop up failing businesses that lost their economic hand out due to OP's massive commercial redevelopment. The days of watering holes for dry neighborhoods are over. Some establishments have had it far too easy for too long and are now panicking having never learned how to compete from the beginning. (And they only compete with themselves for market share in an oversaturated town.) If the village administration would come up with some sort of economic plan for the future of this town, and incentivize businesses to invest in the town, maybe that's something the residents can rally behind. Hot Slots and Tater Tots is not a calling card for investment, no matter how much you "like" it. Neither are lower income predatory shops like the big 3 on roosevelt. I can easily think of a dozen places I leave forest park to enjoy that could find a home here; from office store-to pet store, theaters to doctors, etc...But I have a job to get to, so I'll leave that task for those who were hired to handle it.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: October 10th, 2018 8:47 PM

Try thinking that through for a moment, Cox. Bank are markedly different from bars. Not even going to bother with list. But it's long.

Robert C. Cox  

Posted: October 10th, 2018 8:01 PM

It seems to be logical to say that what ATMs did to banking jobs would do the same for Bar/ Taverns... no wages , no benefits , no holidays minimal maintenance, just plug it it. So where does the reinvestment or job growth come from?

Steven Backman  

Posted: October 10th, 2018 11:52 AM

Ever since House Red closed I have posted several times that we need a wine bar that serves small plates as they did. It filled a need for folks who did not want a bar setting. Contrary to rumors at the time, HR was doing pretty well when the building was sold and we recommended it quite often to customers of the Forest Park Emporium. Martin Sorice, you have several bar businesses in town, why not look into it?

Pam Fontana  

Posted: October 10th, 2018 10:10 AM

Take out the garbage you say? So what do you want; all the bars to shut their doors and all new unicorn and rainbow shops to open? Everyone, it seems, that wants gaming to go away doesn't seem to have any ideas (other than stating that we need to welcome new business to town) that are viable or owners that are willing to come in to the village. After all, if they offer something you folks don't like, you'll start a referendum to make it go away. Jimmy's has been there over 20 years; his comments about the street don't help him sell his business. That's for sure. Another one biting the hand that feeds him.

Michelle Andres Fitz-Henry  

Posted: October 9th, 2018 9:13 PM

Pam. look at the article the owners of "Jimmy's Place" gave an interview to. How they describe Madison St., the street they have been on for over 20 years. Then look at the crime report. Same old problems, same old players. Then YOU figure out why we don't have new businesses knocking at our door. This is why we don't have new businesses starting up right now. The bad activity is stopping them. Take out the garbage!

Geoff Binns-Calvey  

Posted: October 9th, 2018 8:03 PM

Pam, can you give us a definition of "regressive", in this sense?

Pam Fontana  

Posted: October 9th, 2018 7:55 PM

Besides the overused 'regressive' word that so many antis just love, I keep seeing things like this "Let's embrace new businesses that can give an economic boon to Forest Park, and encourage struggling businesses to change with the times.". Where has FP shut out all these new businesses they keep speaking of? Why can't new businesses start up right now? No one is stopping them.

Amy Binns-Calvey  

Posted: October 9th, 2018 6:42 PM

Michele, you bring up a really good point. A GAO (Government Accountability Office) report stated that officials in South Carolina and Montana said "the atmosphere of convenience gambling created a negative environment and stigma in communities, which hurt local commerce and residential areas and had a detrimental effect on community investment. They discouraged new business from coming in." One more reason I'll be voting "Yes" to prohibit.

Michelle Andres Fitz-Henry  

Posted: October 9th, 2018 5:57 PM

Well said. This village reinvented itself years ago in the early 2000s I believe. It changed the entire character of Forest Park in a positive way and we had a wonderful mix of businesses. Many of those businesses were very involved and active in the transformation of Madison St. We had businesses supporting businesses and I am happy to say many of them were women owned. Some are gone, some have stayed. We need to attract new businesses and make this a destination they want. I agree that gambling is not the answer. I have heard no evidence that gambling has helped any of our retail and boutique businesses with the "increased foot traffic" that was promised if our village armed itself with the "one-armed bandits" that is video gambling machines. The winners are few - a handful of bars and the terminal operators that supply their machines. It's time for the village to reinvent itself again and not in the mirror of Berwyn or Maywood or other towns that think they can only succeed with video gambling. We need to look at history for the example.

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