Dear 40th Ward Neighbors,
This week during Wednesday’s City Council meeting, I voted yes on a resolution and ordinance to build a casino at the Tribune Building on Chicago Avenue near Halsted, with an initial temporary site at the Medinah Temple, located at 600 N Wabash.
Considering the very real safety, traffic, fiscal, and equity concerns conveyed by neighbors, by myself, and by my colleagues, I never believed this was going to be a simple decision. Additionally, the critiques that the City’s communications were insufficient are valid, and I acknowledge that Chicagoans would have been better served with a more transparent process.
My vote in support of the casino is grounded in my fiscal responsibility as a member of City Council. With the pensions for our first responders, both firefighters and police, so extremely underfunded, and in light of our City’s history of debt mismanagement, it was crucial and necessary that this proposal move forward. The casino will provide a projected $200 million annually after its sixth year that would go directly to the pensions, as mandated by Illinois statute. In addition to those pension investment commitments, there was an upfront amount of $40 million as part of the agreement. In order to get my support, and after subsequent negotiation, the administration agreed to amend the ordinance and codify that the entire $40 million go to the Chicago Fire Department and Chicago Police Department pension obligations.
Additional information shared by the chosen operator, Bally’s (available at https://bit.ly/3LPLoOx), provided a clearer vision of the project; its ambitious proposal of an entertainment venue focus that will help stimulate our convention industry, built by union jobs, with a focus on equity in hiring and in shareholders. Many thanks to the Chicago Federation of Labor for negotiating to ensure that the operator agreed to union labor and to our colleagues who negotiated for equity in hiring.
While the process wasn’t perfect, a casino is the solution that Chicago needs in order to meet our pension obligations and to put us on better financial footing. As your elected representative to City Council, I am committed to accountability and improvement as this project moves forward.
Alderman Andre Vasquez
Alderman – 40th Ward