After River West has been announced as the site of a temporary casino and would also involve a casino run by Bally’s, local officials have shared some concerns that the decision bypassed a vote of the Chicago City Council. They have also signaled that it may have been associated with a monetary contribution to political party campaigns.
As revealed by Alderman Brian Hopkins, Chicago’s Alderpeople have taken part in brief group meetings with the office of Mayor Lori Lightfoot as they were frustrated over the lack of a City Council vote, as well as by the fact that they felt misled on the location of the site for the city’s temporary casino venue.
Mr. Hopkins has noted that the original proposal suggested that the temporary casino would be hosted by a warehouse on the eventual site for the aforementioned Bally’s casino. In addition, he revealed that neither he nor Alderman Brendan Reilly was consulted about the decision, whose ward involves the Medinah Temple, as well as an area in a liquor moratorium.
The alterations to the location of the temporary casino venue seem to have happened quietly in March. What has been found even more concerning, was the fact that $6,000 worth of a donation from Albert Friedman, who currently owns the Medinah Temple through one of his companies, was accepted by the political campaign of Mayor Lori Lightfoot the day when the change was made.
Certain Political Donations Fuel Chicago Officials’ Concerns over the Proposed Temporary Casino Site
The city of Chicago has unveiled some rules aimed at preventing companies from using donations to local politicians’ campaigns for kickbacks. However, one expert has noted there is a loophole making that possible.
According to Alisa Kaplan, the reason the aforementioned donation was considered a legal contribution was because the city rules are supposed to ensure protection and prevent so-called pay-to-play maneuvers. Ms. Kaplan explained that they did not include companies’ owners or individuals occupying top executive roles and applied to the company itself. This basically means that the company run by Mr. Feridman is not allowed to make a donation of more than $1,500 to the campaign of Mayor Lightfoot but he himself is able to do so.
Following the unveiled concerns, the office of Mayor Lightfoot issued an official statement, which has confirmed that Albert Friedman had been a long-time supporter of the Democratic Party in the state of Illinois and in Chicago in particular.
As the statement reads, Mr. Friedman has invested both money and efforts to help the economic growth of the city. On the other hand, the Office of Ms. Lightfoot has noted that Chicago’s Mayor had gone above and beyond throughout her tenure to slash the bad practice of what the statement described as shady backroom deals of the past. The statement also reiterated the Mayor’s pledge to be transparent with the residents of Chicago on all matters that are linked to the city’s prosperity.