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Committee resists city ban on video gambling

January 6, 2010

News and notes from the Jan. 4 Rockford City Council meeting

By Stuart R. Wahlin

Staff Writer

The Rockford City Council’s Codes and Regulations Committee voted 4-1 Jan. 4 against a proposed ban of video gambling machines within the city limits.

Dec. 21, Ald. Pat Curran (R-2) introduced a resolution whereby the city would opt out of the Illinois Video Gambling Act, which is to be one of several funding sources for a $31 billion state capital plan passed in July.

Video gaming machines, commonly found in taverns and private clubs, are nothing new in Illinois, but have been permitted solely for entertainment purposes prior to the new gambling act. Payouts are often discreetly issued to players from bar owners, however, and the state wants in on the action as a means to support roads and other infrastructure.

Because the state has been without a capital plan for more than a decade, all on the committee, with the exception of Chairman Frank Beach (R-10), voted against Curran’s resolution.

Under the capital plan, approximately $400 million is earmarked for Winnebago County. After years of lobbying for local projects and passage of the plan, most aldermen seem in agreement that now is not the time to be picky about funding sources.

Others argue gambling is not a responsible way for the state to pay its obligations, and that the social cost is simply too high.

The Rev. Dr. J. Michael Solberg, senior pastor of Second Congregational United Church of Christ, urged aldermen during public comments to resist video gambling in Rockford.

Aldermen Nancy Johnson (D-8), Ann Thompson-Kelly (D-7), Doug Mark (R-3) and Bill Robertson (I-14) voted against the ban.

Although defeated at the committee level, the resolution will move ahead to the floor later this month for a vote by the full council.

Ordinance

Aldermen gave final approval to amending an intergovernmental agreement among the city, the state and the Greater Rockford Airport Authority. The amendment allows manufacturer Wanxiang America, Inc., to place solar panels within a flood plain on airport property as part of a solar farm project.

Committee reports

υ Awarding a heating, ventilation and Air-conditioning (HVAC) contract to Miller Engineering in the amount of $15,459 for cooling tower repairs at the Coronado Theatre.

υ Approving an agreement with Kentucky Data Link, of Evansville, Ind., for the installation of fiber optic lines along public rights-of-way for Rockford Public School District 205 facilities.

υ Awarding an agreement to Sears, of Crystal Lake, for delivery and removal of refrigeration units.

Closed session

Aldermen convened in closed session to discuss “employment of specific employees and litigation.”

From the Jan. 6-12, 2010 issue

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