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Black, Hispanic Chicago aldermen urge Quinn to OK gambling bill

Updated: November 4, 2011 7:54PM



The Chicago City Council’s black and Hispanic caucuses on Wednesday joined the battle between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn over gambling expansion in Illinois. The caucuses aim to pressure the governor to sign a bill that would pave the way for a land-based Chicago casino and slot machines at O’Hare and Midway airports.

It’s one thing for Quinn to ignore a political plea from the mayor of Chicago. It’s quite another to turn a deaf ear to elected representatives of black and Hispanic voters who helped put Quinn in office, the aldermen said.

“Our caucus came out and supported Quinn when it was a close call. He needs to understand that and see that our communities are suffering,” said Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), chairman of the black caucus. “Some of the prosperity seen downtown (was) not seen in our communities. ... This is a way that we can help our constituents without raising taxes.”

What happens if Quinn refuses to sign the bill?

“There’s always a political consequence to anything you do or you don’t do. Those people who are out of work will look unfavorably on that,” Brookins said. “There are people on the other end pushing him saying, ‘We don’t need any more gaming.’ We just want him to know there are significant communities that we represent who really need a shot in the arm.”

Ald. Danny Solis (25th), chairman of the council’s Hispanic caucus, said the casino controversy has become a “he said-he said” between Emanuel and Quinn, but it’s bigger than that.

“We represent Hispanic and African-American constituencies that are the big majority of this city. And he should hear us, too,” Solis said, warning that a Quinn veto would unleash “downstate animosity” toward Chicago.

“We’ve got a bill. Let’s fix it right now, instead of killing it and trying to re-create one,” he said.

Quinn responded that the state is already investing in infrastructure and other city projects, and urged “anyone who advocates signing the (gambling) bill to first read the bill and ask themselves, do they want to have flaws and defects in a very important bill?”

“I know what’s in the bill, and I think there’s some shortcomings in the bill that need to be improved,” the governor said. “There’s always going to be people who have loud voices who say, forge ahead without thinking. ... I’m not in that category. I believe we should reflect and study and if we see something that isn’t going in the right direction ... we correct that mistake.”

As Emanuel turned up the heat in recent weeks, Quinn stood his ground, denouncing the gambling bill for its “serious shortcomings” when it comes to “honesty and integrity” and preventing corruption. The mayor has dismissed those concerns as a smokescreen.



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