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Tribune breaks four-year silence

Monday, Jun 17, 2019

* I totally agree with this Tribune editorial

If the prospect of Illinois wildly expanding gambling doesn’t make you nervous, this should: Gov. J.B. Pritzker and lawmakers evidently are considering stacking the state’s oversight agency with friendlier gatekeepers.

State Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, a longtime sponsor of gambling legislation, recently predicted a push for more “pro-gaming” influence at the Illinois Gaming Board, the agency that regulates casinos and video gambling.

Pritzker’s office declined to answer our questions about his plans. But if Pritzker allows a shift away from the strict protocols that have kept Illinois casinos corruption free, he’ll be the third governor — after George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich — to make the colossal mistake of meddling in gambling oversight. This is no time to appoint regulators in a hurry to please lawmakers. With so much gambling expansion imminent, Illinois should double down on vetting, transparency and deliberation. […]

Pritzker’s team has only released a statement on the prospective shake-up: “All of the governor’s current appointees will all comply with the language contained in (the bill). We look forward to having a skilled and diverse board that will both regulate and effectively support gaming in Illinois.”

“Effectively support?” To what extent?

As I wrote just the other day, that would not be a smart move. At all.

Also, that Link quote was reported by the Sun-Times. Credit where credit is due.

* And while they’re right about avoiding friendly gatekeepers, where’s the Tribune been the past four years? From 2014

Springfield lawyer DON TRACY is doing advertisements on the radio again, this time to promote BRUCE RAUNER for governor.

And he says he’s using “a more pro-Springfield message” for the local crowd than the “shake up Springfield” slogan that Rauner ads feature.

* 2015

Judge Aaron Jaffe will not be re-appointed to head Illinois’ Gaming Board. Instead, Governor Rauner is looking to Springfield corporate attorney Don Tracy to fill those shoes. […]

“Don is a friend and he and his family have done a lot of good things for the State of Illinois, for the citizens of Illinois, and for the Republican Party,” said Jason Plummer, who won the lieutenant governor spot over Tracy in 2010.

Judge Jaffe was a Tribune hero.

* Tracy even served as Rauner’s attorney while chairing the Gaming Board

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office ended a monthslong fight over details about his workday Friday, releasing more complete appointment calendars in response to an attorney general’s decree that he was withholding more information than allowed under state records-access law.

A lawyer for the first-term Illinois Republican disclosed fresh versions of his calendar from early 2015, nearly four months after the state public access counselor’s ruling. The new versions revealed little new information.

The issue over what Rauner is doing, when and with whom has been contested by The Associated Press, the Chicago Reader and the Illinois Times, whose staff writer, Bruce Rushton, filed a lawsuit over the matter, an action Rauner lawyer Don Tracy of Springfield blamed for the delay in disclosure.

* And then there was the Y Block fiasco

As a $15 million renovation of the Illinois governor’s mansion nears completion, a fight over a piece of land across the street has taken Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s long battle with organized labor to his front lawn.

At issue is nearly 2.5 acres owned by the city of Springfield that lies just north of the mansion’s gated grounds. The block has sat vacant for more than a year after the city demolished a YWCA building there. Since then, a nonprofit group backed by Rauner was picked to turn the lot into a park, featuring mounded hills, a sidewalk cafe and pools of water that could feature light shows in the summer and ice skating in the winter.

“They are renovating the mansion and this would provide a Washington Mall-type vista in front of it,” said Don Tracy, an attorney long involved in Republican politics who Rauner recruited to lead the effort. “We hope it would be a destination park to sort of help rejuvenate downtown Springfield, which needs lots more people.” […]

“I didn’t realize it was this hard to give away money, that’s what we are trying to do, and every time we turn around there is some new obstacle or objection,” said Tracy, who also works as Rauner’s Illinois Gaming Board chairman. “But that’s Springfield, and that’s Illinois.”

What we need at the Gaming Board are independent-minded members who are neither explicitly pro- nor anti-gaming and who don’t work directly with or for the governor.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Donnie Elgin - Monday, Jun 17, 19 @ 3:08 pm:

    JB should just throw caution to the wind and appoint Lou Lang. He already has the casino owners on speed dial

  2. - Moody's Blues - Monday, Jun 17, 19 @ 3:13 pm:

    Well, these two aren’t Tracy-related but:

  3. - Blue Dog Dem - Monday, Jun 17, 19 @ 3:28 pm:

    What about ex-rep Dan Reitz. /s.

  4. - Lucy - Monday, Jun 17, 19 @ 3:54 pm:

    Look for the people blago exiled because they were followng the law, like jeannette tamayo(now with the federal govt). We need more people like her.

  5. - Danville's Finest - Monday, Jun 17, 19 @ 3:55 pm:

    I eagerly await the grand opening of the Hyatt Grand Resort & Casino in downtown Chicago.

  6. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 17, 19 @ 4:06 pm:

    ===Well, these two aren’t Tracy-related but===

    Those two editorials were about the legislative process and not about the Gaming Board itself.

  7. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 17, 19 @ 4:16 pm:

    Rauner was anti-gaming, so Tracy was anti-gaming. Having someone anti-gaming heading the Gaming Board is like having someone who doesn’t like farming heading Agriculture.

  8. - Commonsense in Illinois - Monday, Jun 17, 19 @ 5:00 pm:

    Members of the Gaming Board should be independent from influence from the Governor, his staff, legislators and their staffs. They need to be individuals with unquestioned morals and integrity. As they look at issues as they arise, they must be able to look at the facts as they are.

    They cannot fear revoking a license.

  9. - Veil of Ignorance - Monday, Jun 17, 19 @ 6:24 pm:

    This is going to turn out badly…casino is a bad idea that everyone seems to support.

  10. - Bavette - Monday, Jun 17, 19 @ 6:33 pm:

    CommonSense, I agree, but in Illinois that is asking for the impossible.

  11. - Court watcher - Monday, Jun 17, 19 @ 8:31 pm:

    ==They cannot fear revoking a license.==

    They fined a casino company over a million dollars last winter, and are currently trying to revoke the license of a medium sized video game operator. It’s a small agency that, according to pro publica, said back in 2009 that they needed hundreds more staff to regulate the bar slots, which they never got.

    I have no idea what Rayner told his board appointees, but it doesn’t seem like they were afraid to mix it up.

  12. - AnonAurora - Tuesday, Jun 18, 19 @ 10:31 am:

    So we are funneling money from the weakest constitutions among us to the state, wealthy investors and exploitative capitalists to help pay down our bills. And lets be honest…this is like recycling center for federal social security funds…

    Casinos are the payday loans of budget reconciliation.

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