Emanuel Cites Sinkhole As Reason To Approve Chicago Casino

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday used the example of a big sinkhole that swallowed a car on Saturday to make a point about the need for a Chicago casino – a not-so-subtle shot at Gov. Pat Quinn’s reluctance to sign a bill that would allow for a major expansion of gambling in Illinois.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, the mayor said the sinkhole on the Northwest Side was caused by a broken water main, which eroded the pavement above it and he wasted no time connecting that to the casino legislation.

Emanuel wants to use the revenue from a Chicago casino to pay for a bevy of infrastructure improvements – repairs to roads, bridges, sewers, water mains and schools.

“We have, literally, I think it’s over 100 miles of water main line that’s over 100 years old,” Emanuel said at City Hall on Monday. “I may have the numbers wrong, but directionally … that’s where it is.”

Emanuel has said he wants to use money for a Chicago casino to create jobs and “build Chicago’s economic competitiveness.”

“There is no other place but the casino to make the investment in Chicago’s economic competitiveness,” Emanuel said.

Several private contractors were making repairs to the sinkhole at Foster, Elston and LaPorte on Monday in order to reopen the intersection and give neighbors some peace of mind. Some of the lanes reopened Monday morning, as construction crews pour new concrete. Some of the intersection has already been patched up. All four affected lanes are expected to be open by Wednesday.

“I missed that hole by 5 to 10 minutes,” Forest Glen neighborhood resident Joseph Beran said. “If I hadn’t stopped for gas, I would have probably been down in that hole. I swear to God I would’ve.”

The mayor seemed to be suggesting that without a Chicago casino, this could happen again and again, although he maintained he wasn’t trying to poke or pressure the governor.

“I don’t think its pressure. I don’t think I was poking. I think I was explaining fact that is essential,” Emanuel said. “And I don’t think anything more brought home that fact than an 8-by-10 (foot) sinkhole in the middle of the street because of a water line that broke.”

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), chief sponsor of the casino bill, said he agrees with the mayor.

“The Mayor believes, rightfully so, that a casino is economic development for the city of Chicago,” Lang said. “And he’s looking for that, as he stated last week, to help fill in some of the holes – excuse the pun – that will help rebuild the infrastructure in the city of Chicago.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

The Mayor projected that casino revenue would pay for 40 miles of water and sewer line repairs, which pleases some residents in the neighborhood where the sinkhole opened up.

But Governor Quinn has repeatedly voiced concerns that the gambling bill would allow too much expansion of casinos in Illinois with not enough oversight.

Lang said he can satisfy the governor’s concerns about oversight, “But if he said to me, ‘I want you to take this casino for Danville or Rockford out of the bill,’ there’s no good reason to do that. If the reason is just to make the bill smaller just to satisfy somebody’s itch, I’m not prepared to do that.”

The casino legislation has been approved by lawmakers, but Senate President John Cullerton has placed a legislative hold on the proposal, stopping it from going to Quinn’s office, out of concern Quinn might veto it.

Quinn has not yet said what he would do with the legislation when it reaches his desk, but lawmakers who voted for the bill have been weighing possible changes in hope of getting Quinn’s approval.

  • Government is Wack

    Why do we need a casino? So you can make your pockets fatter? What a lame excuse for a casino. What does a big sinkhole have to do with a casino? We have outrageous taxes, high gas prices, crazy property taxes, no jobs, unemployment up the booty. The people keep getting laid off while corporate and government line their pockets. So Mr. Mayor what your saying is that the casino is going to solve all our problems but giving the money back to the city? Dude who are you kidding.

  • politicianssuck!

    couldn’t of comment any better than you did. Totally agree. this guy is a total goofball. Plus the construction jobs will probably be given to the politicians nieces and nephews and other family members not regular people who need the jobs.

  • albert

    the lotto was to meet all the educational needs, the new tress and bushes was meant to attract tourist and busineesses as i understand. now the casino is to help the city financ es? i dont think so. Ad everything is to create more jobs, what about 70 jobs or less out of 1,000 and more applicants.

  • doggboyy

    How about an audit of every city department.The Chicago public schools have NEVER had an audit EVER! Start with them and move down the line.Then the county government.Finally the state which no one is sure when or if the it has ever been fully audited.

  • Esther

    I live in Forest Glen around the corner from the “Sinkhole”. The idea that opening a Casino will prevent future sinkholes from happening is ludicrous. We live in Chicago were maintenance is built into each and every project that is done here. Ten to fifteen feet there was a water leak since Feb. or March. Residents called numerous times to NO avail. Finally in July the city came and fixed it. Now we all know from science that water finds the point of least resistance. So the leak would be visible for a week then disappear only to come back a few days later. This went on for months. Now we come to Saturday and our giant hole in the street, in retrospect where do we think the water was going and coming from.Maybe if the city had come right away this all could have been avoided and an elderly gentlemen would not have found himself in a hole. Besides all that Elston has a bike lane, what if that had been a cyclist as opposed to a car, we could be looking at injurys even worse. Do not get me wrong I like Mayor Emanuel but if you think Casino’s are the way to go, your WRONG!!!. We tried the Lottery for schools and that turned out to be a big joke. Schools don’t have enough money lets raise the TAXES. I don’t mnd paying my taxes and believe me I pay big property taxes where I live. But DON’T use my taxes to beautify Cicero Ave with planters that we then have to buy flowers for and water which means someone watering them , most likely union , use my money for important items like schools,health and infrastructure and leave the decorating to the stores and the people who line the street. This would have been written hours ago but in the middle our whole neighborhood was without power. NOW HOW COULD THAT HAPPEN? Its not even hot today

  • antigambler

    Casinos ARE sinkholes. If they’re going to build a casino(s) in Chicago, build them over each sinkhole. That would be a fitting reminder to everyone what they really represent.

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