The Man Who Has Hurt Education Most Says Gambling Expansion Will Hurt Schools

The Man Who Has Hurt Education Most Says Gambling Expansion Will Hurt Schools

Man - talk about the pot calling the kettle black on education! But hey, we should be used to that from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. This is a man who has made talking out of both sides of his mouth an art form! But let's not kid ourselves for a moment - Governor Pat Quinn is no friend of education and/or its funding! And if you don't believe me, well, just think about how he nonchalantly moved Federal ARRA Funds into the Illinois General Fund and then stiffed every school district in the state by slashing education funding in his State Budget. I hate to break it to the Huckster, but talking the talk isn't the same as giving our children the means to excel.

But hey, he does have a point when it comes to gaming expansion hurting education! The over-saturation of gaming has already reared it's ugly head as all the area casinos have reported a significant drop in their revenues ever since the new Des Plaines Rivers Casino opened and cut into their action. Of course, Illinois lawmakers already knew that would happen, but, I suppose the rabid bartering for that "last" gaming license must have had them all salivating.

After all - that was all "upfront funny money" wasn't it?

Here is the reality - whether the economy is up or whether it is down - there are only so many gaming customers to go around. And if you don't believe me, well, just ask the Horse Racing Industry since they have been hit the hardest by the proliferation of "riverboats." For the lif of me, though, I still haven't figured out how folks can think that there are bigger payouts at the casinos as opposed to getting better odds in a "short field of horse?" I guess there is a certain glitz that is just too tempting to ignore at a casino.

It also shows you why racetracks want those slots. They know people will get hooked on those spinning reels between wagers. Personally, though, I still think your best odds are with horse-racing. That is if people are smart enough to play it right and not get caught up in those gimmick bets, which is nothing but betting against yourself if you think about it. Besides, casino's only have two areas where they can offer even, or slightly better, odds for the gambler. Black Jack and Craps! Somehow, though, people still gravitate to those Slots! And for casinos like that because that is where the money is.

But before we get into the addictive powers of casino gaming, we need to examine why lawmakers seem to think that gaming is the end all to be all. Gaming and Education Funding have never been that compatible in the first place. Even in good times there are too many loopholes and conditions attached to when casino's actually pay off on it's revenues. And school districts are often the ones always left in the lurch because of that. So what exactly has gaming given them to date?

Any lawmaker who believes that further over saturating a product that is in decline is an idiot! Never-the-less lawmakers continue drilling us with the notion that casinos will somehow solve everything. I guess that goes to show you that they are indeed the idiots we think they are. They just don't get it that Gaming doesn't solve a damn thing.

Besides, Indiana, Missouri and Iowa all look far more attractive to gamblers. First - they don't have smoking bans in place. And like it or not - Illinois gamers don't like that rule. But there is something bigger than that as well -  "Comps." The casinos in surrounding states have done a great job in handing out those "all-important comps" and that is what keeps their Illinois customers coming back. If you haven't noticed too - the surrounding states have not over-saturated their casinos, rather, they have strategically placed theirs in convenient locations designed to lure away Illinoisans. Smart. Very Smart!

However, if Illinois lawmakers want to take another stab at their Gaming Model - they must actually look at cutting the number of facilities and then turn them into "must" travel destinations. Build Gaming Palaces! Look, their is absolutely no reason in the world why a Chicago Casino, or those operating in other good locations couldn't attract world-class gamers. But given the greed of the City of Chicago, and Cook County, in raping their tourists - well they have pretty much blackened their own eyes.

It is no secret among travelers that Chicago levies far too many taxes, hidden and unhidden, as well as ridiculous surcharges. So, why then would they want to come here and lay money down some serious cash in a State-Of-The-Art Gaming Palace?  Wouldn't it make more sense to go to a friendlier destination? But Chicago Machine Politics demand a cut of everything, and as such - they will never change.

Hopefully there will be some real thought given to the state of Gaming in Illinois. Gaming Expansion, though, would be more than a bad deal at this point. But you know what? I suspect politicians will continue pushing for them just the same. And somehow there are always more than a few consortium's who will be dumb enough to outbid each other for one of those sacred licenses. However, if the most recent gaming data hasn't already shown them the stark reality by now- then let them waste their money. I am sure the politicians and appointed board members will be more than happy to take it, right? But let's get this straight - there will be NO LONG-TERM BENEFITS in New Gaming!

As for Education? Well, you and I already know the truths there. School Districts and School Children will continue to get a raw deal by Illinois Politicians. Parents will also have to continue digging ever deeper while lawmakers ignore the inequities of Property Taxes being the main source of Education Funding.

As for our governor - the Huckster Quinn. Well, he will continue to deceive even his own mother when it comes to his brand of politics. Then again, how can he tell her that he actually enjoys slashing eduction funding over say - adding a few more political appointments to the state payroll? That would probably break her heart, you know?


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  • Quinn is Quinn and at least is over in China looking for jobs, apparently for Chicago based Boeing that does all of its manufacturing in Washington. I just turn the dial when he or Jan gets on the air; their voices have become too irritating. At least Blago has been silenced.

    School money and the general fund have both been frauds, so let's move on. I also mentioned how Rahm might want to take some Chicago money from Indiana, but otherwise it was diminishing returns.

    Maybe more interesting is your observation of horses vs. slots. Following up on the conversation of parimutuel vs. casino gambling, horses at least requires some skill at reading the racing form. Greyhound racing, too. I never could figure out how to bet jai alai in Florida. There might be some skill in playing cards, but (as your "tight slots" comment indicated) with regard to slots, not only are you playing against the house, but the house has programmed the machine to assure the state's and its take.

    The only point of slots was illustrated in $pringfield, where Marge Simpson kept feeding the slot machine, and when they were bringing another cup full of quarters to her, Barney Gumble drank it. Just two addicts.

    Finally on the gaming hotspot idea, supposedly Rosemont or Des Plaines was a good site because people having a layover at O"Hare just had to unload their wallets. From that the other casinos are hurting, apparently not. There certainly isn't a reason for a tourist to stop in downtown Chicago to gamble, when they could go to Las Vegas and see a show, or take a trip to the next county for some prostitution. BTW, I'm still surprised that Lou Lang hasn't sponsored a bill to legalize that, since Illinois has demonstrated that it is stuck to the teat of gambling and liquor taxes. I also mentioned on Muckrakers that I am surprised Illinois hasn't legalized blow, apparently also much to their chagrin, because the only reason would be to tax it.

    Which gets to the final fishy that the legislature still hasn't sent the gambling bill to the governor. At least they sent the Com Ed bill.

  • In reply to jack:

    You always nail it Jack. Some might think you cynical, but you do have a good sense of what is going on as well as the hypocrisy.

    I agree with the Casino near O'Hare..That is smart. As for Chicago though, it could attract another type of gambler. I am from Europe and Casinos are put into the "World Class" City Centers and build other attractions around it. Heck, Chicago is even getting a nice reputation with their theater district of late - so there are things to build upon. You absolutely also need the live entertainment, ala Vegas to succeed. But it can be done. The question is - do they want to do it right or do they want to keep being tax / fee bloodsuckers?

    Personally - I think everything balances out in the end anyway if things are done right, unfortunately these Machine Politicians must always get their greasy palms involved in things. Too Bad, you know?

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    As far as the casino near O'Hare, that thought seems inconsistent with the observation that Rivers was sucking the life out of presumably the Elgin and Aurora ones. The real question is whether if say, a gambler in Niles, now drives to Des Plaines rather than Elgin, drops it at the OTB Racino and Bar in Golf Mill, or takes the bus from the latter location per Vince VanPatten's advertisement* to gamble in Milwaukee.

    While the Loop has a theater district, I don't think it will get tourists here to gamble and to see pre-Broadway shows. Dining in the immediate Loop area isn't what it once was. Certainly no reason for tourists to shop on State Street.

    As far as whether it will be the same old political-criminal garbage, the Tribune claimed today that it unearthed a memo saying that the Chicago casino would be exempt from Gaming Commission controls. However, they relied on the memo, instead of trying to read the bill.

    In these veto battles, including Com Ed, I am torn between whether Quinn is being his ineffective self with the threats, or both bills are the usual legislative garbage written by the people who intend to benefit at the public's expense. Probably both and probably not worth the time to research it thoroughly.

    *I got a real laugh seeing that commercial dubbed in Korean on channel 41.

  • In reply to jack:

    The Rivers Casino is just up the road from where the Rosemont one was going to be built, but are in the same general area. I know quite a few casino gamblers and it appears to me that the Grand Victoria was the one those people preferred driving to, until of course the Rivers opened. So I can see the drop-off in patronage in the Elgin area. It is probably the "new thing" syndrome. I also know people weren't happy with the "elbow to elbow" environment at the new joint and suspect some will return to their 2nd Preferences. But I do get your point on the player from Niles scenario.

    Jack - I really believe that the Downtown Area could be made into a destination if the desire to do it was there. Look, I remember a very bustling Downtown Area (even after the workers went home) when I was younger. After doing my Naval cadet training at the old Monroe Street Naval Armory we used to spend many hours going to places like Ronnie's or Tads's Steak House. Heck even the old Wimpy's did great business late at night. You have to give people a reason is the way I look at it and believe me, more tourists than not stay in those downtown hotels. Especially foreigners. There is a mindset to go to the City Center. But alas - you need our dimwit politicians to see that and take advantage of it. Between the Loop and the outer Loop - there could be so much more done. But hey I am a dreamer sometimes.

    I would not, however, allow a Chicago casino to not be exempt from a gaming commission - that is pure stupidity. As for legislative garbage - well, I think you nailed it in the latter ("people who intend to benefit") than the former ("ineffective"). It is ALWAYS about cash in someone's pocket.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    As far as State Street, you have the same memories as I, which are undoubtedly not high class (especially Ronnie's). However, it seems like the thrust has been to turn State Street into college town for the Art Institute, Roosevelt U, Columbia College, etc. I did notice, however, that after about 5:45 p.m., State Street is dead, and that didn't used to be the case.

    Where any tourist would want to go would probably be Michigan Ave. or eating in River North. A generic Macy's assured that State St. will never again be a shopping destination, especially for tourists, and even suburbanites.

    With regard to "cash in someone's pocket," sure, but it is also the legislature's complete disregard of the public interest. Com. Ed, Illinois Bell (its legal name), the coal to gas people, whatever, get to write the bills. Quinn is usually only teed if somehow they circumvent CUB. However, in the gambling bill, the legislators apparently know that they have gone too far, and hence won't send it to the governor's desk for a veto.

  • In reply to jack:

    Memories we have Jack. Yeah LOL - no high class here (Ronnies) but it was good. I agree though - State Street is blah these days - too bad though. A return to the old days wouldn't be so bad, heck they could incorporate the Loop, River North and Mag Mile areas and really do it up.

    You know - Baltimore is a good example of what can be done. They use water taxis to ferry people to the Camden Yards area, Little Italy and that drinking paradise known as "Fells Point" and lots in between. I think our people should meet with their people you know?

    Oh yeah - I agree with what you say in your last paragraph.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    I don't think people in Chicago have enough vision. Take Block 37 falling apart economically, for instance. We sure didn't get Harrods. Tarzhay is supposedly moving into Carson's.

    Since you brought up Camden Yards, maybe someone should have taken the suggestion about a decade ago to move the Bears closer to downtown, but the reaction would have been that it would have been a ripoff of taxpayer money. Same for any suggestion to move Wrigley Field, or building DePaul a real stadium.

    Even North Pier didn't work, while the Cleveland Flats apparently did.

    One would also have to overcome that business has become too homogenized on a national basis to attract tourists without a real attraction, such as Times Square, Washington D.C., or the Vegas Strip. Atlantic City is still a dump despite casinos, and apparently a worse one.

    Meanwhile, in this area, the trend seems to be which southern food franchise will move up here, as typified by the Chick-Fil-A recent announcement. Of course, I suppose it is the same all over, as the first thing my nephew and niece wanted to do when visiting Florida is eat at the nearest Panera Bread, even though there are plenty of them here.

  • In reply to jack:

    I hear you my friend. Block 37 was a prime spot; of course they also wanted to turn the basement into a transit terminus (and not a bad idea on the surface) but the federal monies that were required to get that critical phase done was enough to derail what would be built on top of it. Yeah - it is clearly about a lack of vision.

    And, as you point out, Chicago's vision (lack of) stands in direct contrast to the successes in former urban shit holes; i.e. The Flats in Cleveland, Camden / Inner Harbor in Baltimore, etc..

    Your point on business being homogenized is dead on. The need for "unique" has been stripped away by the need for "familiarity no matter where you are."

    That is probably the most tragic aspect to it all.

    Back to the Inner Harbor, or even Fells' Point in Baltimore - there were restaurants and pubs that are unique to Maryland and I have never forgotten that in my travels and that is exactly why Baltimore has stayed on my regular places to visit.

    p.s. your point on D.C. is well made, but they have another issue; the poverty (and its associated crime) outside of the proverbial "belt around DC Attractions." Talk about mass departures after 6pm - parts of DC is like a Ghost Town after everyone bails out on MetroLink.

  • I got tired indenting.

    However, with regard to "but the federal monies that were required to get that critical phase done was enough to derail what would be built on top of it. " I don't think federal money had anything to do with it. The only thing that had to do with it was a really raving Mayor Daley.

    I followed this from way back when then CTA Chairwoman Carole Brown basically said the she wasn't buying the consultant's report on the Airport Express. That report had various schemes to get around the bottlenecks on the Blue Line, but the bottom line was that the feds were not going to support an at least $1.5 billion project just for the elites, and some private investor would have to step up to the plate.

    However, she supported the hole under Block 37 saying that the land was already vacant, and it took the World Trade Center collapsing for NY to rationalize the underground transit systems there.

    For the Carole Brown points, you could look at if that makes any difference.

    Of course, after then Huberman reported that it would take $300 million just to build the tunnel out to a shell, and mushmouth Daley was saying stuff about the switches were obsolete, and then that he wanted a Maglev, like they have in China, and that couldn't use that station.

    My comments were more directed to the building that was built on top of it, which was built, but I doubt has viable businesses. It, of course, went through a Mills Corp. bankruptcy or near bankruptcy and Freed Co. being foreclosed. Now, supposedly, the only salvage is putting the casino there.

  • In reply to jack:

    I get you on the indenting, lol. Yes, I forgot about short-shanks and his request for a Maglev as opposed to a standard "express train." As I recall we had some good conversations on Block 37 on the old Chicago Now. Naturally the most damning aspect to that pipe-dream project was exactly what you said - "get the Feds to front and then let a private investor step up." I presume you are speaking of any number of Daley's "3 Degrees of Cronyism." Yeah, Block 37 is only a rat hole now - but it could have been made into something. But hey, that is the way it is in Chicago - nothing gets done "for the good of the city" unless it is "for the good of some crook's pocket." Such a shame too.

    Now I am not naive enough to think that we live in a perfect world - but somehow when we look around to other great cities in the world - there is at least an appearance of doing something for the right reasons. Every major project in Chicago invariably includes the Pritzker's and you have to ask yourself why? Yes they donate and as a result get their name on Charter Schools and other institutions and parks - but they seem to make out on every single deal and get half their family employed on the city payroll or appointed to boards. Doesn't sound like philanthropy to me, you know?

  • With regard to the Airport Express, I don't think anyone said for the feds to front. Of course, it was never disclosed how much of the $300 million sunk into the hole in the ground was Mills, TIF, or CTA money, and if CTA money, what the source was. Maybe some of that was fed.

    If you look at my comments on the CTA Tattler, you'll see plenty of other ways CTA has blown federal money.

    As far as the philanthropy, I don't know. However, I know that there isn't any behind the SBC or whatever carvings are at Millennium Park.

    At least the Olympic Committee wasn't buying that Ryan of Aon* was going to underwrite the entire shebang as Daley claimed. Could you imagine the stink if Chicago got that, and the extent of the deficit and how the IOC, Daley, and Blago expected Illinois taxpayers to cover that would have turned out?

    *Of course, of Ryan Field and other self promotions.

  • In reply to jack:

    I hate to word things in a facetious manner, but I find myself doing that more and more in my commentary and/or responses. The way I see it Jack, in spite of our politicians who claim that they will fund projects without Federal monies - they always go begging for it at the end. So even if the project starts out one way it invariably always ends up costing every taxpayer in the nation.

    Chicago has had a direct pipeline to Washington for as long as I can remember (and still does, which by the way is Rahm's strongest trump card).

    So yeah I understand what your saying but at the same token - that is exactly why they don't disclose where the money comes from. Ever.

    Your IOC comment was most interesting and I totally agree with you. It is sort of ironic though - one whore dissing another whore. The IOC makes our Machine Politics look amateurish. But you are correct that Illinois Taxpayers (and I am sure US ones too) would have been on the hook. The Olympics are a world event so Federal Monies would have entered the stream somewhere in some capacity; i.e. security, transportation infrastructure, etc.. But as is always the case, the Olympics almost always run a deficit. although Peter Ueberroth pulled it off nicely in L.A.. Unfortunately, Chicago doesn't have servers of the public good - only self-serving crooks.

    Oh yeah, I was also being facetious regarding the Pritzkers. Everything they do is self-serving and self-promotion.

  • Normally I would agree about the federal money ("the Stevenson is about ready to collapse," "the Douglas L is about ready to collapse," "Wacker Drive is about to collapse," etc.) and miraculously the money appears.

    However, this time, with the transportation and FAA bills tied up in Congress for several years, I'm not so sure. Also, I do believe that the north Red Line is about to collapse.

    With regard to Fed money, I'm more surprised that the feds are pimping Quinn on high speed rail, which I also think wouldn't work, for no other reason than it couldn't become high speed until 80 miles outside of Chicago, and who rides Amtrak now?

    On the whores, it was somewhat ironic when Daley came back and said "It's all about money and politics there." Of course, and also here.

    As far as "self serving crooks," my mother asked yesterday "what's the deal with Blagojevich getting 30 to life" and I said that the usual legal b.s. was getting down there--there's the federal sentencing guidelines and he'll get what he'll get. However, I forgot that she could have heard the story on WGN America.

  • In reply to jack:

    Maybe so on "However This Time."

    I agree too that the High Speed won't work. Amtrak and the American Public are vastly different than Europeans and their rail systems. Then again gasoline prices there contribute to that. But their systems are highly reliable, as well as comfortable. I have many great memories, especially in the UK.

    As for Blago - well the judge has great latitude and it will be interesting. I am sure, though, in spite of what he may feel towards him - he will consider many things; i.e. his age, his children and Ryan's penalty. But - interesting just the same.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    You have to figure that after all that was before Zagel, he isn't going to take any monkey business.

    The federal judges pretty much follow the guidelines, and as was pointed out today with the Padilla case, and happened to Fast Eddie, apparently federal appeals court can order resentencing because the first one was too lenient. So, I really don't expect anything surprising with the Blago sentencing.

  • In reply to jack:

    For sure.

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