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Whitney: Abolish Secret Lottery

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney issued the following statement today in reaction to Governor Quinn's selection of Northstar Lottery Group to run the Illinois Lottery system. Whitney is critical of the privatization of the system, the secrecy of the selection process as well as the Lottery itself.

"Quinn has taken pride in his improvements to transparency in government - and to be fair, he has made some. But that makes his invocation of secrecy in this case all the more questionable. I don't see how he can defend it. He certainly hasn't provided a rational explanation yet.

"A huge amount of taxpayer funds are at stake. The public has a right to know what offers were made and by whom. The administration's explanation that making information on the bidders public would somehow 'taint the outcome' makes no sense, not after all the bids are in. This can only fuel suspicion that the governor is hiding something. It creates an appearance of impropriety. And given that our state's reputation for ethics in government is not exactly deserving of a gold star right now, I think the governor has once again exercised poor judgment.

"It is disturbing to me that the General Assembly and the governor saw fit to privatize lottery operations in the first place. This is another example of how their stubborn refusal to deal with the causes of the current budget crisis keeps leading them to make bad decisions that will only compound that crisis in the future. For some immediate cash, the State is giving away the store. In the long run, our taxpayers will still be paying to administer the lottery but now they will be paying for the private profits of the operators as well. There are also questions regarding how much control over operations - and potential abuses - that the State will retain. This is not a rational system that is being created.

"Once again, my own position is that we never should have had the lottery in the first place and I would fight to abolish it as soon as we can afford to do so. Gambling is a hidden tax on the poor, the ignorant and the desperate. We never should have gone down this road. Just because other states were foolish enough to go jump in the lake, it doesn't mean that we should do so. But now that it's a fact, privatizing it just makes things worse. And keeping the process of selecting the private profiteer that will benefit from this corporate welfare - courtesy of Illinois taxpayers - is worse still. This entire story keeps getting more sordid as each chapter is written.


Rich Whitney is a 55-year-old civil rights and employment lawyer from Carbondale. As a lawyer, he has fought for working people who have lost their jobs or had their rights violated. A founder of the Illinois Green Party, he has long been politically active in support of the labor, health-care reform, environmental, civil rights, and peace movements. In 2006, he served as the Green Party's first candidate for Governor, winning over 360,000 votes and making it possible for Illinois voters to have a third choice on the ballot statewide.


* Whitney: Fair Taxes For All


Posted on September 16, 2010

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