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Time to stop trying to mandate slots
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Published: 5/16/2009 10:16 PM

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Allow us to provide a bit of apparently needed history for the Illinois General Assembly and, in particular, for state Sen. Terry Link of Waukegan:

In 1927, when Arlington Park Race Track opened, it didn't do so without the approval of the village of Arlington Heights.

In 1989, when it arose from the ashes to reopen as Arlington International Racecourse after a horrific fire had destroyed the grandstand, none of that reconstruction was done without the approval of the village of Arlington Heights.

When the Trackside Arlington Park restaurant opened on a corner of the track property to offer off-track betting, it also didn't do so without the approval of the village of Arlington Heights.

When OTBs were opened in Elk Grove Village, North Aurora, Oakbrook Terrace, South Elgin, Wauconda and Waukegan, they didn't do so without approvals from those municipalities. When more recently, OTB proposals have been debated by the village boards in Buffalo Grove, Hoffman Estates, Lake Barrington and Villa Park, there has been a reason for that: They have to be approved by the village boards.

In order for Elgin to get a gambling casino, the village of Elgin had to agree to it. In order for Des Plaines to win approval for a gambling casino, the city of Des Plaines had to agree to it.

In order for Rosemont to get a gambling casino... OK, not a good analogy, but at least Rosemont had to agree to the casino before everybody fought over whether the village should get it. The fight wasn't because everyone wanted to put a casino in Rosemont but Rosemont didn't want it; Rosemont wanted it.

As a matter of fact, it's not just gambling. You can't build a garage in any of these towns without the municipality approving it. You can't add on to a house or build a deck or put in a storage shed or open a tavern or a restaurant without the municipality providing its blessing.

And yet, there are those in the state Legislature who think it's perfectly all right to tell the people of Arlington Heights that slot machines are going to be forced down their throats.

They must think this. Because year after year, they turn up with proposals that would put slot machines at Arlington Park without requiring the village's approval. Year after year they do this.

And then they wonder why the public has had it up to here with Springfield.

This isn't about slot machines and whether they're good or bad. It's about municipal rights to decide.

For this year, at least, that colossal affront has been put aside. Link said Friday that that element will be removed from his perennial expansion-of-gambling package.

Let's hope that this time, everyone's gotten the message. Let's hope attempts to usurp Arlington Heights' authority are done for good.