City Council votes to create special committee to oversee approval process for future Chicago casinos

Chicago (CBS) — A day after Mayor Lori Lightfoot Narrowed down the list of potential Chicago casino locations from five options to three.The city council on Wednesday signed off on her plans to create a special committee that will be tasked with reviewing the bid, which it ultimately chooses.

A 35-12 vote by the council would form a special aldermanic panel headed by the Eld. Tom Tunney (44th), who is also the chairman of the zoning committee, and the vice president headed by Eld. Jason Ervin (28th), chairman of the Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity as well as the City Council Black Caucus.

The remaining members of the special committee will include all the presidents and vice presidents of the city council’s committee, as well as the chairman Protem Eld. Brendan Reilly (42nd).

Rendering of the proposed casino of the Corporations of Bali at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center.

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One Lightfoot decides on a single finalist for a future Chicago casino, “a comprehensive host community agreement will be drawn up, recalling the terms on consent,” and the committee will be responsible for reviewing the agreement.

The Committee shall have jurisdiction over all matters relating to the construction of casinos, including zoning, land use, building codes, contracts, licensing and permits; As well as gambling, public health, pedestrian and traffic safety, safety, environmental issues, city services, transportation, financial and budget considerations, tax incentives, special events and airport matters.

The mayor’s push for the special committee’s immediate approval on Wednesday was met with angry pushback in the city council from some of its most persistent and outspoken critics, who accused Lightfoot and his allies of voting through the city council.

Eld. Raymond López (15th) noted that a copy of the proposal to create the new committee had not yet been posted on the City Clerk’s website, and was less than 15 hours before Wednesday’s council meeting at around 7 pm on Tuesday. The alderman was emailed at :30.

“That’s why there’s so much uproar over what we’re doing,” he said.

Lopez compared the vote to the infamous 2009 vote being asked by the city council to approve the privatization of the city’s parking meters, calling the vote to create a special new committee to oversee the casino deal. of a casino in the parking meter 2.0 form.”

A rendering of Hard Rock International’s proposed casino within the proposed One Central development project near Soldier Field.

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Eld. Sophia King (4th) and Eld. Byron Cigcho-López (25th), whose ward includes two of the proposed sites for the casino finals, said he should be included in the special committee to ensure that his constituents have a voice in the process.

“I believe that at least the aldermen who are affected and the communities around them should be on this committee,” King said. “At least, it should be the aldermen whose wards can be directly affected. Their constituents have to have a voice.”

Cigcho-López said, while approving the Chicago casino project is a citywide issue, it will also have a direct impact on all the wards that eventually become home to the casinos, and those wards will be required to review the deal before a city council vote. is needed. ,

“Leaving our constituents in this committee without a voice, I find it problematic and undemocratic,” he said.

However, Lightfoot said that each alderman would have the opportunity for input at special committee meetings, as they do at annual budget hearings, even though not every alderman is a member of the budget committee.

“All members of the body, all residents, and especially taxpayers will have the opportunity to make their own measure of the feasibility of all three proposals,” she said. “If additional briefings are needed, every body member will be given ample opportunity to participate, kicking the tyres.”

And Tunney pledged to run the committee “in a fair and democratic manner and in an expedient manner.”

“Some of us have been waiting 30 years for a casino revenue source to help with our pensions, and I’m going to tell you something, we have to move fast,” he said.

Rendering of Rush Street Gaming’s proposal for the River Casino project in the 78 megadevelopment between the South Loop and Chinatown.

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Eld. Anthony Beale (9th) argued that a special committee for the casino project should not have been necessary in the first place.

“I am amazed at the fact that we are creating a new committee to provide the same functions that this body does every single day, and I don’t think it is the responsibility of this body to decide which people to be in administration. This body votes on the recommendations, and I believe this body has all the necessary committees to provide the same functions as this committee is being formed,” he said. “This body is still the check and balance of this city.”

In addition to Beale, King, López and Cigcho-López, the aldermen who voted against the creation of the special committee were Janet Taylor (20th), Michael Rodriguez (22nd), Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd), Carlos Ramírez-Rosa. . (35th), Andre Vasquez (40th), Matt Martin (47th) and Maria Haden (49th).

Lightfoot’s office announced Tuesday that three finalists have shortlisted for Chicago Casino:

  • Casino plan of a Bally at the site of the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center publishing plant along the Chicago River near Halsted and Ohio Streets.
  • A Hard Rock casino plan as part of the massive One Central development south of downtown, a concept that has yet to receive city or state approval as it seeks $6.5 billion in state funding .
  • A river casino scheme within a 62-acre riverfront megadevelopment, known as The 78, is located between the South Loop and Chinatown.

Two offers for casino in or near McCormick Place has been taken out of contention.

Before the mayor chooses a final bid to send to the city council for consideration, each of the three finalists and the city will attend a community engagement meeting in which the public can ask questions and issue comments. The meetings will be held from April 5 to April 7 from 6 pm to 8 pm and will be telecast live. Individual preference will be given to those who live in the zip code where each proposed casino will be built, with a capacity cap of 300 with additional space on a first-come, first-served basis.

The meetings will be held at the following times and places:

Tuesday, April 5: Hard Rock

Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St.

Wednesday, April 6: Bali Tribune

Tribune Publishing Plant, 700 W Chicago Ave.

Thursday, April 7: Rivers 78

Isador and Sadie Dorin Forum, University of Illinois at Chicago, 725 W. Roosevelt Rd.

After the meetings, the city will continue discussions with the shortlisted teams and a winner will be selected.

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