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Forum: Gambling expansion adds problems

Updated: December 26, 2012 9:38AM



When state legislators return to Springfield on Tuesday, they may be asked to override Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of a massive gambling expansion bill, Senate Bill 1849.

With so many forms of legalized gambling in Illinois, why isn’t the state flush with money? Did the lottery solve the problem of funding education? Do gambling sponsors really believe that nearly tripling the amount of casino gambling will be the “magic bullet” to fully fund education and pay overdue bills? Gambling is an unstable source of revenue.

Legislative sponsors want residents to gamble and lose their money in Illinois. They are not satisfied that Illinois residents are losing money on video gambling machines, recently installed in neighborhood establishments, and that many more applications await approval.

They want the governor to cut a “backroom deal” to legalize 11 more land-based and racetrack casinos, including a city-owned casino in Chicago that would be more than twice the size of other casinos.

Addiction, bankruptcy, crime, child neglect, divorce and suicide will increase with gambling expansion.

Gambling interests promise more than they deliver. Quinn and legislators have critical issues to deal with during this legislative veto session, and they have been distracted long enough with a gambling expansion that will increase harm. Call your state legislators and ask them to support the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1849.

Anita Bedell

Executive director

Illinois Church Action on Alcohol & Addiction Problems

Springfield

A better way to pick judges

On Nov. 6, Cook County voters made no distinction between the vast majority of judges who deserved to be retained and the few who should not be entrusted with deciding issues of life, liberty and the rights of their fellow citizens.

Illinois has 40-plus years of experience with the current system of selecting judges — partisan elections and nonpartisan retentions — and the flaws of this system are more apparent with each passing election.

The Illinois State Bar Association favors an appointment system in which judges would be selected with the benefit of nonpartisan commissions composed of lawyers and non-lawyers.

We believe such a system would bolster an independent, qualified judiciary. But changing the selection process requires an amendment to the Illinois Constitution. We know how difficult this is, after many years of trying.

This leaves us to pursue other measures that can improve the system we have. One of these is tighter rules outlining when a judge should disqualify himself or herself due to campaign support that creates a probability of bias.

Public confidence in the justice system demands this kind of common-sense rule, and the bar association will be voting next month to approve such a proposal. Illinois is fortunate to have an excellent judiciary. We arrived at that result in spite of, not because of, the method of selection.

John E. Thies

President, Illinois State Bar Association



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