Friday, September 2, 2011

With minorities being the majority, will this pressure Quinn to back casinos?

Call it the “white guilt” tactic, if you will, to try to persuade Gov. Pat Quinn to quit being the obstacle to the city of Chicago being able to get a long-desired casino.
QUINN: Will he listen?

How else should we think of the fact that the Latino and African-American members of the City Council this week banded together to make a statement that Quinn will lose ethnic and racial support if he doesn’t give in on this particular issue?

NOW AS A Latino male who personally thinks of casinos as tacky places and doesn’t really relish the thought of losing money while playing cards, I kind of find that tactic to be embarrassing.

While I realize that the decision whether to gamble or not to gamble is an individual one and that many Latinos probably would like to spend time at a casino based within the city limits, I’d hate for people to think that the concept of a casino near downtown Chicago is some special concern that ALL Latinos are supposed to get behind.

Which is why I must say that I wish this had not been presented as anything resembling an ethnic concern.

As 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis told reporters, Quinn needs to think of this issue in ethnic terms because, “These are also the constituencies that … have the worst neighborhoods and, as far as infrastructure is concerned, the biggest need.”

SOLIS SAID, “SPEAKING for Hispanics, this is the constituency that really does need to look at the problem of our crumbling schools and more schools being built.”

And 21st Ward Alderman Howard Brookins said Quinn owes a casino to minorities (68 percent of the city’s population, according to the latest Census Bureau reports) on account of the support given to him during the last election cycle.
SOLIS: Latino communities need money

“There’s always a political consequence to anything you do or you don’t do,” he said.

So is the minority that makes up the majority of Chicago really going to remember and quit on Quinn come 2014? I doubt it, and I’d like to think that the Latino electorate isn’t that shallow.

WE (AND I mean all people, not just Latinos) ought to have higher priorities in mind than whether or not some business consortium gets a license to print money by operating a casino in Chicago – whose real purpose is to take away from the gross incomes of casinos in places such as Joliet, Aurora and Elgin.

And Hammond, East Chicago and Gary in Indiana – which may well be the top priority of putting a casino in Chicago. Keep the dollars in Illinois.

The idea that anyone is pushing for a casino to raise more municipal dollars to benefit the non-white neighborhoods of Chicago is just incredibly naïve. To hear select aldermen try to claim that ethnic neighborhoods are going to be the major beneficiaries of a casino sounds less-than-honest.

Because I’m realistic enough to know that a significant share of any money raised through municipal taxes from the presence of a casino will go toward projects that benefit the downtown business district, or the North lakefront neighborhoods.

OR SOMETHING THAT cannot be strictly defined as an infrastructure project in a place like Pilsen, Englewood or South Chicago.

Will these same aldermen then be complaining that not enough of the casino money is being spent on their communities? That would be a more honest charge to make than these claims that Quinn is somehow selling out the non-Anglo segment of Chicago because he has serious concerns about the way in which the General Assembly went about passing a bill for casino expansion.

I would only hope these same aldermen will be willing to hold Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the fire to ensure that their wards receive equitable shares of any proceeds that come from casinos.

But I doubt, somehow, that these aldermen will be willing to make such a bold statement against the mayor as they have this week against the governor.

BECAUSE I REALLY view this week’s action as being one meant more to curry favor with Emanuel – who in recent weeks has engaged in an often-juvenile exchange of insults with Quinn over the casino issue.

The aldermen have now taken sides. Which means they had better hope he prevails. Although considering that Quinn is the one with the “veto” pen, I’d say that the governor will ultimately succeed on some level.
BROOKINS: Political payback?

Considering that the issue is not likely to get to Quinn until some serious revisions are made to the bill through political negotiation, I would think those aldermen would be more interested in pressuring their respective legislators if they were serious about this particular issue.

I only hope that Quinn is big enough a man not to let this become personal. Or else he might try to figure out some political equivalent of using the National Guard against those ethnic and racial minority wards – which in Chicago political terms could easily result in them getting less than their needed level of services and funding when it comes to state grants that the city relies upon to bolster its own budget.


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