Sunday, September 12, 2004

Casino for Peotone? Kadner wants a deal. Me? I'll take a casino

The big downtown dogs are lining up for a Chicago-State of Illinois jointly owned casino somewhere near the Loop. Cities are turning into tourist destinations instead of manufacturing districts, and Chicago's losing convention business to places where it doesn't get cold, so a big time casino downtown might lure people here to spend their money.

The unions, the chamber, the tourism people are backing the mayor, and they want the General Assembly to permit another license for Chicago and Illinois.

I think it's a good idea. I'd rather have the city and the state get the profits (that means you and me) instead of some randomly-connected insiders making money. I actually like casinos, but Hammond is just a bit too far for me. And as for poor people making stupid decisions and spending their money at the casinos. . . .that's true. And it is a bad thing. But I don't think that's enough of a reason to kill a casino.

A better reason to kill the plan is that it will be lame. This is a real potential problem. The Rosemont casino was going to be "Isle of Capri" with a Carribean theme. I guess then 1950s never ended in Rosemont. What a lame idea. The style of these people who still wish Frank Sinatra were around shouldn't direct the casino, or the thing will tank. Plus, there will only be one casino. There won't be a strip, which is the fun part of Vegas.

All that being said, the city could use some more pizazz. A fun casino can help to bring that.

Phil Kadner in the Daily Southtown has a good idea for south suburbanites: trade their votes for a Chicago casino for Peotone airport. The column is here. O'Hare's expansion is looking like a monster, massive project with not so much bang for the buck, at least according to the Peotone backers. So in exchange for letting private developers try to build the airport without interference from Mayor Daley, the south suburbanites could vote for the casino.

I wonder how much the state legislators are preparing -- together -- for the wild veto session to come the Monday after the election in November. They all have their own elections to work on, and it's hard to develop that solidarity in a particular region when they're busy running against each other (the south suburbs have a mix of Ds and Rs). State legislators have other jobs, too. So somehow they are supposed to get together in six days after the election and come up with a huge, region-shaping public policy plan. You have to think that Mayor Daley, with a sophisticated staff and tons of allied organizations working feverishly full-time on this proposal, has the upper hand in any negotiations in the veto session.

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