By Nona Tepper
If you haven't heard, the Forest Park Review is fact-checking every campaign flier this election season in an effort to inform voters. Keep in touch: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flier Name: "Dear Neighbor"
Submitted to the Forest Park Review on Oct. 25
This letter to voters makes a few claims:
1) "Our Village Council ignored the results of both a non-binding referendum and a Village poll, both of which were overwhelmingly in favor of continuing a ban on Video Gambling in Forest Park, and voted it in on October 24, 2016." TRUE
Forest Parkers opposed video gambling in town by a 4-1 margin in a "straw poll" Village Hall sent by mail in February 2013 inside water bills to households in Forest Park.
Residents voted 2-1 against legalizing video gaming in Forest Park in a non-binding referendum in April 2013, according to election results from the Cook County Clerk's Office. The village council voted on Oct. 24, 2016 to legalize video gaming in Forest Park.
2) "Forest Park receives minimal benefits from gambling." NO COMMENT
The Review cannot comment on such vague opinion.
3)"With almost two years of data in, gambling receipts cover the cost to run the village for about two days." TRUE
Gambling receipts cover the cost to run the village for about two days. The village's projected expenses for fiscal year 2019 are $21,575,469, according to the village. Divided by 365, the cost to run the village for a single day is approximately $59,110.
In fiscal year 2019, which runs from May 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019, the village has so far earned $104,035 from video gaming, according to Sept. 17 data provided by the village, which includes all license fees, permits, and the village's share of the terminal income.
In fiscal year 2018, which ran from May 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018, the village earned $165,141 from video gaming. In fiscal year 2017, which ran from May 1, 2016 to April 30, 2017, the village earned $17,921 from video gaming.
As of Sept. 17, the total amount the village has made so far from video gaming is $287,097.
4) "At the same time, the village is responsible for all the social costs, from crime to community health effects." HARD TO SAY
The village is certainly responsible for the costs to police the village, as well as most ambulance and emergency personnel costs. Many of the hospitals and the health care services in the area are privately owned or nonprofits, however. This is a general statement.
5) "The gambling industry, in just two weeks, has poured nearly $60,000 into the campaign to keep video gambling in Forest Park." TRUE
From Aug. 22 to Sept. 4, four video gaming machine vendors donated $57,200 to Let Forest Park Grow-Vote No's campaign committee, which supported the ballot initiative to keep legalized video gambling in town, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
As of its most recent filing to the state board on Nov. 5, Let Forest Park Grow had received $66,200 in funds, with the majority coming from video gambling machine companies.
6) "Not one local resident has contributed to the campaign." MISLEADING
O'Sullivan's Public House donated $500 to Let Forest Park Grow's campaign on Aug. 23, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. James Watts, co-owner of O'Sullivan's and chairman of Let Forest Park Grow, is a Forest Park resident.
7) "Only one local bar has contributed, and that was only $500." FALSE
O'Sullivan's Public House has contributed to the Let Forest Park Grow campaign, along with The Beacon Pub, as S Burns Corporation.
But Martin Sorice donated $1,000 to the campaign on Aug. 25 and on Nov. 5, as an individual and under Giance Corporation.
Sorice and his wife, Lynn, own Doc Ryan's and Blueberry Hill, which have video gambling licenses. The couple also owns Circle Inn, Carole's Next Best Thing, Pioneer Tap, Angelo O'Leary's and Shortstop Lounge.
SENT BY: Let Forest Park Vote on Video Gaming, which is a ballot initiative committee created in December 2016 to support a vote on gambling in Forest Park.
Resident Jordan Kuehn is listed as its chairman. Its headquarters is 7301 W. 25th St. in North Riverside, which is a UPS store.
The group reported $2,739 in its most recent quarterly earnings report to the Illinois State Board of Elections on Oct. 15, with the majority of funds appearing to come from residents.