Motley says gaming is not Gov. Quinn’s top priority
By Dan Moran firstname.lastname@example.org | @NewsSunDanMoran October 23, 2013 6:02PM
The casino floor inside the Hollywood Casino in Aurora. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 25, 2013 1:09PM
Patience has been a virtue for anyone following the effort to bring a casino to Waukegan — or to Lake County in general — and Mayor Wayne Motley told the City Council this week that a “very blunt” conversation with Gov. Pat Quinn indicated that more patience will be required during the General Assembly’s fall veto session.
“I spoke with Gov. Quinn today and he assured me that Waukegan is on the radar for a casino,” Motley said on Monday, Oct. 21, “(but) he also talked about some issues that may cause a delay.”
Motley added that Quinn told him the fall session, which started on Tuesday, Oct. 22, will feature “several topics of conversation, and one of them will be pension reform. That’s the thing they’re going to look at first. They’re also going to address the same-sex marriage issue.”
“The governor was very blunt with me,” said Motley, “and he said really, the priority for him is pension reform, which I have to agree is a real pressing issue.”
The General Assembly’s spring session featured a new variation of a casino drama that has taken on many forms over the past decade, during which Springfield has mulled gaming-expansion bids specifically designed for Waukegan and others for Park City.
On May 2, Senate Bill 1739 passed through the Senate with a proposal to add casinos in Chicago, Danville, Rockford, southern Cook County and one of three Lake County communities — North Chicago, Park City or Waukegan.
But that measure never made it to a vote in the House before the session adjourned on May 31. A lobbyist from McGuireWoods Consulting told the City Council in June that state Rep. Robert Rita, D-Blue Island — who took over House stewardship of the bill — proposed last-day changes that included designating a license for all of Lake County rather than a specific community.
Rita told Sun-Times Media last week that he made the change because “it bothered me that the legislation also referred to a south suburban casino being in a geographic region rather than designating a specific site, as we had with Danville, Rockford, Chicago and each of the other casinos sites in the bill.”
“I thought to even the playing field, instead of designating a casino for Waukegan we would change the language to include all of Lake County,” Rita added. “But that caused all sorts of problems.”
If Waukegan doesn’t have a champion among House leadership, Motley told the council that he has made an effort to strike up a new working relationship with state Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, who has helped draft gaming bills emerging from his side of the State Capitol in recent years.
Link and Motley faced each other as Democratic rivals for mayor earlier this year, a race that was not without its moments of tension over such things as campaign mailers. Link ended up endorsing Motley in the consolidated election against Robert Sabonjian and Susana Figueroa..
“For the first time since my election, I spent the afternoon with Terry Link,” Motley said Monday, “We had a very cordial conversation (and) a very fruitful meeting. Terry and I both agree we would mend fences and work through whatever difficulties we had and work in the best interests of this community. And we will do that, I promise you that.”
What if anything comes out of the Legislature’s fall session, it will happen sometime between now and Nov. 7. The schedule calls for the General Assembly to meet six days over the next two weeks — Oct. 22-24 and Nov. 5-7.