Wednesday, May 6, 2015

So much for friendship amongst pols; will we someday want Quinn back?

In recent years, the reason city officials were unable to move forward with long-desired dreams of locating a full-scale gambling casino within Chicago was the political split between mayor and governor.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attempts to get something approved by state government fell through because Pat Quinn wasn’t going to knee-jerk approve something just because city officials wanted it.

HE ALWAYS HAD his own concerns about expanded gambling opportunities and the wishes of some political people to count on casino tax revenues to try to resolve government financial problems.

It was always readily known that there was no love lost between Quinn and Emanuel when it came to gambling issues.

So much so that some people speculated that Emanuel wouldn’t be the least bit upset if Quinn were to lose his 2014 electoral bid. Particularly since there was some sort of personal friendship between Emanuel and Bruce Rauner.

It is with that dynamic in mind that I have to admit to being amused that Quinn’s defeat does not seem to have opened up the chances of a casino coming to Chicago any time soon.

VARIOUS NEWS REPORTS indicate the issue has been discussed in recent weeks. Rauner is being non-committal as to whether he’s willing to sign off on a gambling measure that the General Assembly would have to give approval to first.

In fact, it would seem that Rauner is throwing out hints that he’s going to demand political support from Emanuel and other Chicago political people for many of the ideological measures HE wants to see passed into law.

Including the “turnaround agenda” that the governor tries to describe as a reform of our state’s economic condition but is really nothing more than a batch of measures meant to bring Illinois as close to being a “right to work” state as it ever could be.

Because the reality is that Illinois isn’t Mississippi or Alabama. Heck, we’re not even Indiana – even though I’m sure people living in places like Danville or Effingham wish we were.

CHICAGO OFFICIALS ALREADY have made it clear they’re not backing “turnaround,” refusing to pass the symbolic resolutions that Rauner is asking municipal governments across Illinois to support.

In fact, our city and county officials have gone just the opposite – letting it be known we’re among the hard-core opposition to measures meant to undermine the ability of organized labor to look out for its interests.

Now, Rauner is hinting (if not coming right out and saying) that he expects a little bit of support for his ideological measures, or else he could become more of an obstacle than Pat Quinn ever was to the long-standing gambling dreams that Chicago has had.

Personally, I don’t care if Chicago ever gets the casino some believe is an absolute necessity to our future. I’d like to think Chicago offers so much in the way of amenities that it’s not necessary.

FOR THE SAME reason that we don’t see Chicago trying to become the location of a state prison facility, I’d like to think we don’t need a casino. We’re above that!

But the politicking for gambling is so intense that I doubt the issue will ever wither away. There are those who just aren’t going to be happy until they can go play Blackjack or roulette without having to pay the cost of a trip to Las Vegas – or, if they’re the type of frequent gambler that Vegas loves, lose so much while gambling that the casino comps the cost of their trip.

Particularly if this does wind up being the issue that develops an Emanuel/Rauner split and keeps much of anything from getting done.

It would be the ultimate laugh if gambling wound up becoming the issue that made many of us wish we could have Pat Quinn back as governor!


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