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updated: 9/30/2011 8:24 AM

Arlington Hts. mayor talks slots with governor

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Arlington Heights Village President Arlene Mulder reported this week that she met with Gov. Pat Quinn to lobby for a bill which includes the expansion of gambling at Arlington Park.

"He didn't say anything specific about whether he would sign the bill," Mulder said in an interview. "But I think he heard the message about the importance of the track to the village and was impressed that it has been around since 1927."

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Mulder, who said she had been seeking a session with Quinn for quite a while, met with him for almost an hour in Chicago in mid-September.

The governor's office said Thursday that Mulder had gotten her meeting with Quinn soon after making her first request. However, Mulder's assistant, Diane Staggs, said she had left at least five voice mails for two of the governor's schedulers as well as filling out an online form before the mayor herself made the contact that led to the meeting.

When Quinn was in Arlington Heights to sign a mental health bill, Mulder took the opportunity to talk with one of his staff members and then obtained the appointment within a week or 10 days, she said Thursday.

Quinn questioned her on where village trustees stand on the issue. A majority of the village board supports the slots out of concern the track will otherwise close.

"I think he realizes that this is a substantial and important entity within the village of Arlington Heights," Mulder said. "I told him it would be a significant challenge to the village and the residents to find ways to replace that lost revenue if the track quit operating."

Quinn has indicated opposition to the massive gambling bill, which establishes new casinos as well as allowing slot machines at the state's racetracks. It passed both houses of the legislature earlier this year, but Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has held off sending it to the governor while trying to convince him to sign it.

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