Remember how I said the effort to lift the ban on video gambling in Chicago would resume in earnest yesterday.
In my own defense, I wasn’t entirely wrong. The effort did resume with a rally by business and labor types in advance of Wednesday’s City Council meeting, and I don’t doubt the participants were earnest in their hopes of reviving the issue.
But their prospects died quickly when Mayor Rahm Emanuel weighed in about as forcefully against the idea as is possible.
“I am absolutely 100 percent against it, and I will not let it happen on my watch,” Emanuel told reporters after the Council meeting. “That will not happen in this city while I’m mayor.”
And once more for emphasis when reporters kept prodding: “As long as I’m mayor, it will not happen,” he said. “It is not right for the city.”
Do you get the impression Emanuel does not intend to allow video poker to come to Chicago as long as he is mayor?
I do, and I take him at his word, which only makes it that much more curious that a group of his political allies were behind the revived effort to lift the ban.
Organizing the Back to Work Illinois coalition, which seeks to frame video poker as a jobs creation issue because of its role in funding the state’s public works construction plan, was Resolute Consulting.
Resolute’s CEO is Greg Goldner, who ran Emanuel’s first campaign for Congress, organized the group For a Better Chicago that funneled secret campaign donations into aldermanic campaigns (mostly ones favored by Emanuel) and also happened to be involved with those ministers who were paying folks to speak out in favor of Emanuel’s Chicago Public Schools closings.
Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman slyly used the mayor’s reference to “as long as I’m mayor” as an opening to ask him how long he intends to be mayor, but to nobody’s surprise, didn’t get a real answer.
Given that Emanuel was in essence reiterating his oft-stated opposition to video poker, though with perhaps more oomph, this was probably not the biggest development out of City Hall on Wednesday, but I didn’t want you to think I had intentionally misled you earlier.
The bigger news was probably the City Council approving Emanuel’s plan to install cameras near schools and parks to catch speeders, followed closely by a temporary delay of a vote on his novel Infrastructure Trust plan for six days, at which time he intends to ram it through as planned.
While newspaper writers and some aldermen have been calling on Emanuel to slow down and give everyone a better opportunity to analyze the Infrastructure Trust, the mayor had said he would press for a vote as scheduled.
Although it only takes two aldermen to “defer and publish”– a parliamentary maneuver that delays a vote on any matter until the next meeting – it was far from certain Wednesday that any two aldermen would be so bold. The excuse being offered was that the mayor could just call a special meeting within 48 hours anyway, so they might as well go ahead and get the vote out of the way.
In the end, it was two of Emanuel’s City Council allies – Pat O’Connor and Ed Burke – who delayed the vote, which was seen as the mayor acting preemptively in anticipation that somebody was going to defy him.
Those who thought the mayor would just bring them back in 48 hours were wrong. He’s waiting six whole days.
I’m not sure what anybody is supposed to accomplish in six days, which is probably the idea. The last thing the mayor wants is the opposition gaining traction.
There’s not much chance of that, but the harder he pushes, Emanuel is sure opening himself up to a big helping of We-told-you-so’s.