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Sneed: Former Gov. Walker was never afraid to speak his mind

He was the state’s Walker.

Really.

OPINION

Former Gov. Dan Walker, 92, who died Wednesday at his home in California, was never afraid to speak his mind when it came to the state he once crisscrossed . . . on foot.

“Walking 1,197 miles across the state transformed him from just being a lawyer and a businessman,” said former Gov. Pat Quinn, who started in state government as Walker’s aide in 1973. “He met his constituency that way and cared about them.”

Walker may have served time in federal prison, moved away from Illinois and become a footnote in state history books — but he was vocally and dramatically against a Chicago casino.

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Walker called Sneed back in 2011 with advice for Quinn, imploring the then-governor to stop a move to build a casino in Chicago.

“It’s outrageous,” Walker said then. “Thousands of innocent people get hurt by casinos: mothers, children and old people who become victims of gambling addictions.

“What are Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel and [House Speaker] Mike Madigan and [Senate President] John Cullerton thinking? If Gov. Quinn signs this legislation on gambling, we’ll be second only to Nevada in gambling,” Walker said.

“Backing a casino continues to spread the already too prevalent feeling in Illinois that gambling is OK,” he said. “It encourages people to look the other way and corruption goes with it. Trust me. It’s bad business for Illinois.”

• The backshot: A Chicago casino was not built during Quinn’s administration.

• The upshot: Construction of a Chicago casino is high on Emanuel’s budget bailout agenda.

Loopholes for mobsters!

Former Gov. Pat Quinn, who weighed in on the life of his old boss Wednesday, tells Sneed:

“Gov. Walker was an amazing guy with great energy who was very involved in civil rights in the 1960s, who fought for affordable, desegregated housing and was a voice for the poor.

“And he actually sent me a letter when I was governor after I had vetoed the first casino bill.

“I was concerned about loopholes for mobsters and didn’t want doors closed on ethics and integrity,” added Quinn.

“It’s something the current mayor should be very concerned about. The casino bills I vetoed that arrived on my desk did not have those safeguards.”

• Update: Quinn seems in fine fettle these days. He was spotted dining on “Holy Cow” burgers at Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse in Lombard with his sweetie, Monica Walker, Tuesday night before heading to the movies — and is not planning to run for political office any time soon, despite persistent rumors.

• Translation: Sneed bets the state hasn’t heard the last word from Pat Quinn.

Uber exclusive . . . 

Sneed has learned Uber is teaming up with a charity!

• Watch for Uber to team up with Goodwill this Saturday to make your spring cleaning as easy as requesting a ride.

• To wit: Chicago users of the car service app, which is riding herd on a recent spate of criticism involving driver safeguards, can use their phone to request a free pickup for donations to be delivered directly to Goodwill from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Hey! Hey!

Holy Cow. So here’s who is going to the live broadcasts of ESPN’s “Mike and Mike Show” at Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch Restaurant and Chicago Sports Museum at Water Tower Place both Thursday and Friday morning for the NFL Draft.

• To wit: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be there Friday morning, and other guests Thursday and Friday will include top NFL draft prospect running back Todd Gurley; former vice chairman of the Indianapolis Colts Bill Polian; comedian Frank Caliendo; NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter; and former NFL head coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden.

Sneedlings . . .

Thursday’s birthdays: Kirsten Dunst, 33; Cloris Leachman, 89, and Isiah Thomas, 54.