Mayor Johnson is wrong. Bally’s casino won’t secure a ‘fiscally strong and vibrant future’ for Chicago.

It is a shiny, noisy and glitzy distraction that allows the well-connected to get wealthier at the expense of hard-working Chicago families and individuals who will lose their paychecks gambling there.

SHARE Mayor Johnson is wrong. Bally’s casino won’t secure a ‘fiscally strong and vibrant future’ for Chicago.
Soo Kim, chairman of the board of directors at Bally’s Corporation, looks on as Mayor Brandon Johnson speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Bally’s Casino Chicago at Medinah Temple in River North, Oct. 3.

Soo Kim, chairman of the board of directors at Bally’s Corporation, looks on as Mayor Brandon Johnson speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Bally’s Casino Chicago at Medinah Temple in River North, Oct. 3.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

If history is any guide, Mayor Brandon Johnson will come to regret his choice of words at the ribbon-cutting for Bally’s temporary casino.

“This project is going to secure Chicago’s fiscally strong and vibrant future,” Johnson said at the ceremony. This hyperbole is a standard around new casinos, but anyone with any casual knowledge of Chicago’s political and fiscal management knows better.

The casino will secure nothing. It is a shiny, noisy and glitzy distraction that allows the well-connected to get wealthier at the expense of hard-working Chicago families and individuals who will lose their paychecks there.

The Sun-Times has been unveiling how former Mayor Lori Lightfoot stacked the deck for Bally’s and its legion of insiders to win the contract. The ethical concerns are no trivial matter.

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No one can answer why Bally’s needs such a long lease if their planned mega-casino will open in 2026. Coincidences don’t happen in the process of awarding casino licenses or in the mayor’s office.

The Sun-Times’ stories demonstrate the Chicago casino is more about taking care of the wealthy and powerful than securing a “vibrant future” for Chicago families.

If Johnson is correct and Chicago’s fiscal future is tied to Bally’s, it’s not looking good. The company already has billions in debt, negative credit ratings and a stock price that reaches new lows daily.

While Johnson inherited Bally’s, he’s ignored the ethical concerns with their selection and has staked his mayoral administration on a questionable regional casino operator managed out of a New York hedge fund’s boardroom.

Les Bernal, national director, Stop Predatory Gambling and Campaign for Gambling-Free Kids

Allow food, life-saving supplies to enter Gaza, West Bank

We must allow food to reach the starving civilians in Gaza and the West Bank of Palestine. The war between Israel and Hamas will lead to the starvation of Palestinian civilians if we don’t act. Children will suffer deadly malnutrition.

The United Nations World Food Program is pleading for the establishment of humanitarian corridors to bring these life-saving supplies.

Even before the war began, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were living in severe hunger and poverty. The WFP has faced low funding for its relief operations in Palestine all year, leading to cuts in rations. Now the war will push many Palestinian families over the edge to starvation.

The war is plunging hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza and the West Bank into desperation as they are displaced and losing access to food, water and other supplies.

WFP has begun some limited food distributions, along with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, to 73,000 people.

WFP says it is launching an emergency operation for 800,000 people who are facing “dire circumstances, lacking access to food, water and essential supplies.” But WFP needs the establishment of humanitarian corridors for a relief operation of this massive size to be safely conducted in a war zone.

The U.S. must lead with diplomacy to establish the humanitarian corridors and end the war between Israel and Hamas.

There must be care for all Israelis and Palestinians impacted by this war. All hostages must be released and returned safely home. Food and other aid must reach all war victims.

WFP is facing massive funding shortages for many of its relief operations and needs additional funding to feed Palestinians. Wars as well as drought in the Horn of Africa has placed severe strain on WFP and its resources.

We cannot build peace anywhere on starvation.

William Lambers, author of “The Road to Peace” and “Ending World Hunger”

Protect migrating birds

On a night when millions of birds migrate across Cook County, some casualties among those landing in Chicago are inevitable. But when a single building inflicts disproportionate mass casualties, something is seriously wrong (“About 1,000 birds killed after colliding into McCormick Place Lakeside Center in one ‘tragic,’ deadly night” — Oct. 6).

To put things in context, if an individual shot or trapped a single one of these birds, they would face criminal exposure under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it “unlawful at any time, by any means or in any manner, to . . . kill . . . any migratory bird ...”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in late 2021 revoked an interpretation of the statute from earlier the same year that had excused “incidental” as opposed to intentional killing. Thus, whether or not the decision-makers at McCormick Place intended to kill birds or merely acted, or declined to act, in reckless disregard of inevitable consequences is immaterial. It is common knowledge that reflective window surfaces and lights left on at night increase collision risk.

Lakeside Center is a unique long, expansive structure right on the lakefront; consequently, its managers have a heightened duty to act responsibly.

This environmental disaster is exactly the type of issue that a reestablished Chicago Department of Environment would be well-placed to handle. The prior administration apparently slow walked implementation of an ordinance requiring protective measures in new construction, but this would not apply to McCormick Place in any event.

Perhaps the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Illinois attorney general, or the U.S. EPA should open an inquiry into the Lakeside Center massacre before this macabre spectacle happens again and again.

Andrew S. Mine, Rogers Park

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