Daily Dose: Local history, New casino questions, Good news for Cubs fans, Quinn to China, Palin book blasted, Tollway fee hike coming
In 1911, Judge W.G. Spurgin passed sentence this morning on the men who had been convicted of bootlegging and released on probation. He said he had talked with each of the men and all had assured him that hey had quit bootlegging, and he was disposed to take their word. If ever convicted again in his court on the same charge, the judge said he would show no mercy.
In 1961, the Urbana Tigers rallied from a poor start to smash the big, strong Rantoul team, 28-6, and Champaign’s Maroons dropped their opening night game at Peoria Woodruff, 13-7.
Tribune has new questions about gambling bill
From the Chicago Tribune ...
But a previously undisclosed memo prepared by lawyers for the Illinois Gaming Board directly rebuts the just-trust-us nostrums of the proponents.
Neither the Gaming Board nor its lawyers publicly released the memo. A source independent of the board and the agency gave a copy to the Tribune editorial board. Today we synthesize the proponents' assurances — and the regulators' dissection of the bill's serious gaps.
As you read, ask why the bill's architects would go to such lengths not to capitalize on the Gaming Board's experience, but instead to create a redundant oversight body for a casino in Chicago.
Ask why lawmakers would want that casino excluded from the precise scrutiny that, for two decades, the Gaming Board has enforced at every Illinois casino.
Ask, too, whether you trust Chicago's City Hall — not just under today's mayor, but under future mayors — to run a casino with the highest ethical standards.
Gov. Quinn, we hope you'll force the legislative architects of this monstrosity to answer three questions — questions you would have to answer to the people of Illinois if you let it become law:
Why does Illinois need two redundant regulatory agencies — one of them a creature of Chicago's City Hall — to oversee state-licensed casinos?
Why is this bill crafted to exclude the Gaming Board and the Illinois State Police from crucial regulatory functions?
And what, exactly, is so wrong with the way the Gaming Board for two decades has protected Illinois casino gambling from the kinds of major scandals that have scarred this industry in other states?
Finally, some good news
From the Chicago Sun-Times ...
“We’ve got two weeks left, and we haven’t heard anything from the front office, so I’m prepared for everything,’’ said third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who has a contract option for 2012 but seeks a multiyear deal. “And I know it could be my last homestand.’’
He’s not the only one.
Carlos Zambrano already is gone — his locker at Wrigley Field cleared out — and not expected back for the final year of his contract next year. Manager Mike Quade and his staff lost all semblance of job security with Jim Hendry’s firing this summer. And even with three years left on his contract, left fielder Alfonso Soriano is expected to be shopped aggressively this winter to shed what little of the remaining $54 million is possible while opening up an outfield position for prospects.
“I don’t know what they want to do next year, but I’m just going to go there and have fun the last homestand of the year, and then see what happens,” Soriano said.
It would be the end of a five-year run for Soriano, eight-plus years for Ramirez — the only position player left from the 2003 autumn of Bartman.
Gov. Quinn off to China
From the Sun-Times ...
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn Friday will embark on the first trade mission to China by an Illinois governor since Republican Jim Edgar’s era in a bid to boost exports with the state’s third largest foreign trading partner.
“They see our state and our universities, our agriculture, our great companies, as places they want to connect to. Part of getting investment for Illinois is you have to go face-to-face and talk to companies in China about why Illinois is a good place to invest,” Quinn told reporters Thursday.
The governor will be gone for eight days and lead a 30-member delegation that includes representatives from Navistar, Archer Daniels Midland and United Airlines along with union leaders, university administrators and state and local officials.
Quinn’s office said the trip will cost taxpayers more than $132,000, which includes the cost of interpreters, meeting room rentals and travel expenses once in China. The governor said he intends to cover his own travel and lodging expenses.
Asked if the $132,000 in public funds could be spent better elsewhere given his announcement last week of plans to lay off more than 1,900 state workers and close seven state facilities, the governor said, “No I don’t, really.”
Reviewer blasts book about Palin
From The New York Times ...
Mr. McGinniss explains that he was shocked, just shocked, at the angry response his presence in Wasilla provoked. But “The Rogue” makes the Palins’ widely publicized anger understandable, even to readers who might have defended his right to set up shop in their neighborhood and soak up the local color. Although most of “The Rogue” is dated, petty and easily available to anyone with Internet access, Mr. McGinniss used his time in Alaska to chase caustic, unsubstantiated gossip about the Palins, often from unnamed sources like “one resident” and “a friend.”
Get ready for Tollway fee hike Jan. 1
From WBEZ-FM ...
The Illinois Tollway says traffic has increased on state tollways this year.
The agency collected more than 4 percent in the first six months of 2011 compared to last year, despite the announcement of an 88 percent increase in fees last month. Starting at the beginning of next year, I-Pass rates will be raised from 40 cents to 75 cents, while drivers who use cash will pay $1.50. Executive Director Kristi Lafleur says she doesn't expect traffic to decrease at the onset of the rate hike.
“We’re going to continue over the next months to make sure our customers are educated and know what’s happening,” said Lafleur, who spoke at the City Club on Thursday. “We know that these improvements are necessary and will deliver some improvements that will get people where they’re going faster, and ultimately that’s why people use the tollway.”
Lafleur says the revenue from the toll hike will help fund a $12 billion construction plan to build and repair state highways and bridges. Included in the plan are an Elgin-O’Hare expressway and the widening of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) between Rockford and O’Hare.