MAYOR PEKAU AND HIS ALLIES ON ORLAND PARK BOARD TRIPLE GAMBLING LICENSES WITH NEARLY NO PUBLIC INPUT
Updated: Sep 16, 2019
Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and his allies on the Orland Park Village Board, Trustees William Healy, Cindy Nelson Katsenes, and Mike Milani, tripled the number of gambling licenses in the village on a party line 4-3 vote. Trustees Jim Dodge, Kathy Fenton, and Dan Calandriello voted against the massive expansion.
When the village first considered gambling in 2017, shortly after Pekau was first elected, the village hosted several town hall meetings, and voters had their say in not one, but two, referendums in March 2018. In both referendums, the voters of Orland Park narrowly voted against gambling in any form.
Shortly after the voters expressed, not once but twice, their dissatisfaction with the idea of gambling in the village’s local establishments, Mayor Pekau cast the deciding vote when the Village Board voted 4-3 to allow up to twenty gambling licenses. The proponents of gambling, including Mayor Pekau, claimed the village would realize a cash windfall.
The current village budget estimated these gambling licenses would generate $250,000.00 the first year. In reality, the village’s take was barely $80,000.
The ordinance to expand the number of gambling licenses to sixty will make the current licenses less valuable to those who hold them. Many original license holders invested in remodeling their establishments in advance of installing the machines. The steep rise in competition for the gambling dollar will discourage further investment.
The public input and referendum ahead of the first gambling ordinance was completely absent with this expansion. The number of voters who voted against any gambling in Orland Park exceeded the vote totals of any trustee candidate in the last village election.
The results from the March 2018 referendums on gambling in Orland Park were as follows:
PROHIBIT VIDEO GAMBLING APPROVE VIDEO GAMBLING
YES 6,240 NO 6,081
No 5,632 Yes 5,865
By comparison, none of Pekau’s trustees received more than 4500 votes in April 2019 municipal election.
What do you think about Mayor Pekau and his allies tripling the number of gambling licenses? What do you think about the lack of transparency with the expansion?
What do you think about gambling expansion in the face of two referendums voting it down?
Tell us at email@example.com, our Facebook page, or our Twitter feed. We may publish your response.
We asked for reactions and here is a sample of what we received:
"It should be the opinion of the voters that count, not the mayor and his board."
"Apparently Republicans don't care what the people vote for, they just do what they want."
"I voted for Mayor Pekau in 2017 because we needed change and reform. I am against gambling and voted as such in the gambling referendums. I was disappointed in the mayor and Board when they approved gambling despite the two referendums, one sponsored by the village, being passed against gambling. I still supported the mayor's ticket this spring but was again disappointed when they eliminated the ethics ordinance and now tripled gambling. I will be looking for elected officials who vote to represent my values in the future."
"I would guess that most of those voting “No” did not fully understand the issues. Most is our surrounding neighbors have gaming. Meaning customers go outside our village with their business, not just gaming. In Cook County, in order to qualify for a gaming license, you must already have a liquor license and serve food. Obviously not all business will qualify. Your local hair salon or Ace Hardware will not have gaming machines. Whether the estimates are correct or not, it’s added revenue for the village. And as an employee at a business outside our village that has machines, it does NOT attract undesirable clientele."