Labor and transparency concerns about proposed casino

On Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, Homewood residents attended a public hearing on the Wind Creek Casino proposal hosted by the Homewood Village Board.

What was clear by the end of the meeting is that the tension in the room revolved around common uncertainties that every democratic process results from: The balance between transparency and expediency.

The public still has many unaddressed considerations that the Village of Homewood should follow up on to offer the best chance of success going forward.

Therefore, I am offering policy considerations that the village board could work on with the citizenry to increase the balance between transparency and expediency.

Policy considerations:
  • Wind Creek has considerable political advantage with the land in question with two jurisdictions sharing oversight of the project. That could give Wind Creek opportunities to not be a good corporate partner. 
  • The odds of two political bodies representing two different electorates coming together on managing a corporate partner could be slim, especially if that corporate entity has more assets and better access to legal teams. 
  • Respectfully, Mayor Hofeld never addressed the matter of how the village would be able to affect changes if the partnership with Wind Creek turns sour in the future. 
  • A person expressed valid concerns during the meeting that the current rules do not prohibit Wind Creek from making political contributions to the village board. The public should leverage the bylaws of the village to add a rule limiting even the appearance of possible impropriety from the village board.
  • During the meeting Wind Creek was asked if it would commit to hiring union workers during construction and after opening. The citizens of Homewood did not get a commitment from the company and that raises many concerns for Homewood’s union workers. 
  • With a potential big new stakeholder in town bringing large revenues for the village, how can union workers be secure in future contract negotiations with the village? 
  • Will Wind Creek work with both Homewood and East Hazel Crest unions on a 50/50 basis or are there other arrangements and understandings?
  • Wind Creek is organized in Alabama, a right to work state, while Illinois is a pro-union state.
I hope these considerations have been looked at. If not, union leaders should get ahead of these issues and have a plan for when they arise.

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