Dear Member of the
International Olympic Committee:
Today's update comes from NBC News Chicago's online service. We continue to share with you coverage of the community meetings being staged by the Chicago 2016 Committee.
Chicago's Backwards Olympic Bid
Public invited in - sort of - at end
- July 24, 2009
that the city is just a few months away from finding out if it will be
awarded the 2016 Olympics, an actual real debate has erupt among
taxpayers about whether they actually, really want it.
Isn't this backwards?
but if City Hall and local Olympic officials had their way, they would
have made it all the way to October without having to include taxpayers
who will foot the bill in their plans.
"In a more
perfect democracy, the campaign to host the 2016 Olympic Games would
have been the subject of intense public scrutiny from the moment Mayor
Daley proposed it three years ago," Ben Joravsky writes in the Reader.
financial projections would've been scrutinized by independent-minded
aldermen and their whiz-kid staffers. There would've been public
hearings where ordinary citizens would get to question Daley's Olympic
planners. There might even have been a referendum, carefully worded to
let people know exactly what they were getting into - something along
the lines of 'This could cost us all a ton of money. Do you still want
"And if the answer were yes, we'd have moved on to try to win the International Olympic Committee's approval.
what Chicago has is not an ideal democracy. So here we are three years
later, heatedly pursuing Mayor Daley's Olympic dream whether we want to
In fact, the only reason why the public
is suddenly engaged in debate - and why at least some portions of the
mainstream media have belatedly awoken to the fact that all is not what local Olympic officials make it seem - is that what the mayor told
the International Olympic Committee behind closed doors somehow made
its way back to Chicago and confirmed what critics have said all
along: the city is handing the IOC a blank check.
Even Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times, which has been one of the main Daley water-carriers for the Games bid, was moved this week to note
that "Newspaper editorials have been overwhelmingly supportive of the
city's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Some of the
television coverage has been so gung-ho, reporters sounded like
The Tribune's John Kass, who unsurprisingly has been onto the mayor's game from the get-go, nearly alone among mainstream media figures, noted
himself this week that "the mayor has accused the news media of not
being onboard with his Olympic dreams. Who do you think he was
referring to, exactly? The Tribune proudly flew Chicago 2016 flags from Tribune Tower."
turning of the tide answers the question Joravsky poses this week: "Why
is the mayor's A team only now hitting the neighborhoods to pitch
Chicagoans on the Olympic bid?"
Because public support is eroding.
"The more people hear about this, the more they oppose it," anti-Olympics activist Tom Tresser said on Chicago Tonight this week.
the mayor's bid-masters have set out in a series of meetings across the
city to change what taxpayers are hearing - these are not meetings
being held for the benefit of residents who want to question aspects of
the bid or venture their opinion. These meetings are intended to
communicate in one direction only.
"These are not hearings," Chicago 2016 operations director Doug Arnot said on Chicago Tonight, "they are public forums where the public has the opportunity to get information."
Oh thank you for the opportunity!
Now shut up and listen!
promised, I had an open mind last night when I went to the Chicago
Olympic committee's community meeting at North Park
University," Joravsky wrote after attending one of these meetings.
listened to Chicago 2016 chairman Patrick Ryan, president Lori Healey,
and venue director Doug Arnot make their case for committing untold
billions to Mayor Daley's games.
"But sorry -
they lost me when they claimed that providing recreational
opportunities for underprivileged children in low-income neighborhoods
was their primary motivation for staging the games."
The problem Olympic organizers face now is folks leaving these meetings laughing.
Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.