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Rahm hopes video makes the case for Chicago casino

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It's one thing for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to talk about using the jackpot of revenues from a Chicago casino to "modernize" Chicago's aging public schools. It's quite another to show state lawmakers what those new schools would look like.

On Wednesday, Emanuel sent members of the Il. General Assembly a "show-and-tell" video to make the case for a Chicago casino that's been on the city's wish-list for decades, but has yet to be delivered.

"There's thirteen other casinos in the state. The bulk of the proceeds go to private investors. That's their choice. We're gonna make a choice that--if we finally, after 20-plus years get a casino for the city of Chicago--100 percent of the money will go to building 21st Century schools for the children of Chicago," Emanuel said.

"I wanted them--not to just hear it but see what that school can be and see all the potential. The way we get measured as a city is whether our children can live up to their potential....I released a video showing the Senate and to the House what the 21st Century schools look like, so our children have computer labs, so our children have new libraries. They have a new building."

Five months ago, Emanuel stood with Gov. Pat Quinn and said the two men were "very close" to an agreement on a new casino bill that would include the ethics reforms the governor has demanded and earmark 100 percent of the money from a Chicago casino for school construction and modernization.

It turned out to be yet another false-start.

Shortly after taking office, Emanuel engaged in a months-long verbal battle with Quinn aimed at pressuring the governor to sign a bill that would have paved the way for a land-based casino in Chicago and slot machines at the airports.

When Quinn denounced the bill for "serious shortcomings" in the area of casino oversight, Emanuel all but dismissed those integrity concerns as a smokescreen. Emanuel also ticked off the wish list of projects he intended to build with casino cash.

The pressure tactic didn't work with Quinn, who accused the mayor of "putting the cart before the horse" and spending casino cash he doesn't have.

The governor subsequently vetoed the casino bill, sending the decades-old issue back to Square One.


The two powerful Democrats met privately last week to put aside their feud over who will lead the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority and move on to more important issues.

They talked about providing provisional driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, about joining forces on a new capital bill and about the land-based casino that has eluded Chicago for more than two decades.

"I'm optimistic that, by the 9th of January, we can come up with a bill that meets all of our criteria," Quinn said during an unrelated joint appearance with Emanuel.

"The mayor and I are very close on the issue of strong regulation and ethics and making sure the money goes to schools and infrastructure. Isn't that true?"

Quinn then yielded the podium to Emanuel, who agreed.

"I believe that we are very close. Remember, this has been 25 years in the making. But that said, on oversight and the type of issues like that, we are in alignment," the mayor said.

"And I know from our meeting the governor agrees that 100 percent of the money should go into modernizing our schools. . . . Unlike any other casino in the state, all of the resources will go into . . . modernizing the Chicago Public School system. Building new schools, doing new additions, modernizing to handle the type of education our kids are gonna need to compete and win so the jobs of tomorrow don't go to Japan, don't go to Korea."

Neither the mayor nor the governor would explain how Quinn's ethics concerns had been resolved.

The governor has demanded a blanket ban on campaign contributions from casino interests, Illinois Gaming Board control over a Chicago casino and more resources and more time for the board to thoroughly vet operators and investors. He also wants strict procurement controls while ruling out slot machines at O'Hare and Midway airports and at the Illinois State Fair.

Last year, Emanuel engaged in a months-long verbal battle with Quinn aimed at pressuring the governor to sign a bill that would have paved the way for a land-based casino in Chicago and slot machines at the airports.

When Quinn denounced the bill for "serious shortcomings" in the area of casino oversight, Emanuel all but dismissed those integrity concerns as a smokescreen. Emanuel also ticked off the wish list of projects he intended to build with casino cash.

The pressure tactic didn't work with Quinn, who accused the mayor of "putting the cart before the horse" and spending casino cash he doesn't have.

The governor subsequently vetoed the casino bill, sending the decades-old issue back to Square One.


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