Quinn, Emanuel now arguing over everything from casinos to potholes
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH AND MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporters August 23, 2011 8:38PM
Updated: November 3, 2011 6:16PM
Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel politely tried to run each other off the road Tuesday in rival news conferences arguing about whether Quinn should sign the casino bill now; whether Chicago needs casino tax cash to fill its potholes; and whether mayors or governors should put their names on construction signs.
Though Emanuel said he understands Quinn’s qualms about casinos, Congress’ inability to pass a highway bill or a transit bill means the city needs new sources of money — like tax money from a casino — to pay for $7 billion in infrastructure needs. Quinn should sign the bill now, Emanuel said at DePaul University’s downtown campus Tuesday.
“There are some people that are in a rush, a rush,” Quinn said in a simultaneous news conference at the Ford Assembly plant at 130th and Torrance. “I would urge the mayor again to sit down with the Gaming Board chairman, Judge Aaron Jaffe, and listen to what we need to do to regulate and make sure we keep the gambling operations in our state on the up and up.”
The General Assembly has not even sent him the bill that would allow a casino in Chicago and more around the state, Quinn noted, somewhat tongue-in-cheek — since they’d send it if he agreed to sign it.
“The sponsors of that bill that passed May 22 believe so much in their bill they’ve kept it in their own pocket,” Quinn said. “We have spent the entire summer talking to supporters of that bill, opponents of that bill. It’s important we have honesty when it comes to gambling in this state.”
Emanuel said he doesn’t “like” relying on a casino, but he sees no better option for money to prevent infrastructure collapse such as the monster pothole that opened up, swallowing a car on Chicago’s Northwest Side.
“The pipes, the water system, in parts of Chicago, are 100 years old,” Emanuel said.
But the state is already sending Chicago capital money, Quinn said, ribbing Emanuel about a Chicago Department of Transportation sign amid the Wacker Drive reconstruction that sports Emanuel’s name.
“If you’ll notice, I don’t put my name on any of these projects,” Quinn said “I was a big fan of Wacker Drive, That’s one of the greatest inventions known to man., Lower Wacker. They are reviving the Drive. Who do you think’s paying for that? The state of Illinois is the big investor in that. My name’s not on that road and I don’t want it to be. It’s the project of the people of Illinois. It’s their money. It’s their state. I know other people they put their names all over the place.”
Quinn passed a capital bill that sends the city $100 million a year.
Emanuel said the CTA alone needs $2.3 billion in capital repairs only casino money to back bonds could handle.
“The mayor needs to check his numbers,” Quinn responded. “Our state gives $40 million a year to the city of Chicago for maintaining highways in Chicago ... We’re not going to have a situation where every community in Illinois that wants to fill its sinkholes or potholes wants a casino. I mean, come on.”
Despite differences of opinion between Quinn and Emanuel, the governor said “He’s my friend, OK. He’s been to my office on several occasions.”
Emanuel likewise said both he and Quinn are focused on bringing jobs to Illinois.