The People Speak
Not Taxpayer's Dream
The press is not the only one against the Olympic Games, Mr. Mayor.
So are thousands of Chicago taxpayers who have been burdened by your inept administration, parking meter fiasco, truck hiring scandals and the continued corruption in City Hall.
Chicago taxpayers are tired of seeing their hard-earned tax money being spent on your cronies and family members.
Chicago taxpayers DO NOT need to be burdened any further with untold billions of dollars in taxes to support "your dream," Mr. Mayor.
You want to see the Olympics, fly to London for the next one.
Letter to the Editor
July 27, 2009
Dear Member of the
International Olympic Committee:
|Today the New York Times ran this article further documenting the deterioration of public support for the 2016 bid in Chicago.
Recession Shadowing Chicago Bid for Games
By MONICA DAVEY
CHICAGO - On a recent afternoon, Mayor Richard M. Daley
delivered his annual speech on the condition of the city he has run for
20 years. Revenues may fall $250 million short. Some city workers must
take 15 unpaid days this year, including Mr. Daley. More than 400
workers were laid off that very afternoon, after talks with two unions
In the same address, Mr. Daley pressed forward with the city's
efforts to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, which carry an expected $3.3
billion price tag. A decision by the International Olympics Committee
is due in October, and Chicago is considered a favorite among the four
Polls here suggest broad support for bringing the Olympic Games to
the city. But increasingly, the economic downturn is taking a central
role in the local debate over the bid as more residents raise concerns
that Chicago taxpayers, already struggling, could be left paying the
bills despite assertions from organizers that no city dollars will be
"How do we know?" a resident, Douglas Brown, demanded of leaders of
the Olympics bid during a recent neighborhood meeting on the South
"We can't take your word for it," Mr. Brown said, adding, "When do we get our guarantees to make us sleep at night?"
At the same time, Mr. Daley and other supporters of the Games argue that the Olympics would be a force - perhaps the force - to lift Chicago from this financial gloom, with seven years of new construction, jobs and tourism.
Asked about the difficulties of lobbying for an Olympics bid during a recession,
Lori Healey, the president of Chicago 2016, the bid committee here,
said: "I think it makes it easy. People are hungry for jobs and
Earlier events that placed Chicago on an international stage, Ms.
Healey said, also came during periods of financial gloom: a World's
Fair in 1893 and again in 1933.
To hear Ms. Healey and other bid leaders tell it, there is no
downside. If the International Olympics Committee were to choose
Chicago over Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo on Oct. 2, advocates
predict the Games would not only break even but would also make money
(as have, they say, earlier Olympics in the United States), generate
more than $22 billion in indirect economic impact on the city and
create $1 billion in new tax revenue. Many of the sites needed for the
events would not require construction because they already exist.
Organizers say private financial support is mounting, with $60
million raised so far for the bid, and no city dollars are expected to
be needed for either the bid or the Games.
On that last point, however, residents of Chicago seem skeptical. They have heard promises before.
This spring, a $1.15 billion deal to privatize the city's parking
meter system turned into a fiasco after City Hall's inspector general
called it a dubious financial deal and after motorists said they poured
money into fancy new meters that, in turn, spat out error messages. A
few years ago, Millennium Park, a downtown centerpiece, opened behind
schedule and millions of dollars over budget.
"You all are projecting we're going to make a lot of money," a
resident, Robin Kaufman, told Olympics planners at a neighborhood
meeting, one in a series intended to shore up support. "But the bankers
were projecting they were going to make a lot of money. Bernie Madoff
was predicting he was going to make a lot of money."
Ms. Kaufman lifted a sign that read, "No Blank Checks."
At a high school auditorium on the West Side, where the bid leaders
showed glossy Olympics schematics and stood beside toned former
Olympians, Stephanie Patton asked, "Why should we trust you?"
Even without a city having been picked for the 2016 event, Chicago
agreed this summer to spend $86 million on land for an Olympics
village. Bid leaders say private developers will ultimately foot the
bill for a project that is to create permanent housing regardless of
Bid leaders say the Games themselves are expected to make $450
million in profits. In case of a shortfall, though, a "safety net"
package for the Games will include an expected $1 billion in private
insurance, according to bid leaders, as well as pledges from the State
of Illinois of $250 million and the City of Chicago of $500 million.
Then last month, Mr. Daley indicated that he would sign a host
contract required by international Olympics officials, including a
standard blanket provision offering the city's backing - one that
Chicago leaders had earlier said they hoped to modify.
The notion that the city could then be responsible beyond $500
million "set off some alarm bells" for aldermen, one of them, Joe
Moore, said. Mr. Moore added that the City Council was seeking more
details before it signed off on it. And a group here opposed to the
event, No Games Chicago, said the prospect seemed to have suddenly
stirred an outpouring of interest from people who had been silent on
"The levee broke around that issue," said a founder of the group, Bob Quellos.
What strikes some residents as particularly puzzling is the bid
committee's refrain that, as a private nonprofit entity, it is separate
from city government and public money. Technically, that may be, but
skeptics note the committee and City Hall share goals and often seem
intricately intertwined; Ms. Healey, for instance, stepped down as the
mayor's chief of staff to lead the committee.
Crucial to maintaining residents' support for the Games, polls
suggest, is convincing them that their dollars will not be spent. In
February, a poll by The Chicago Tribune found that 64 percent of
residents of Chicago and its suburbs favored having an Olympics but
that 75 percent were against the use of tax money to cover shortfalls.
At one of the community forums, a city official likened the efforts
of those planning the Olympics Games to Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable,
who is believed to have been the first non-Indian settler of Chicago,
and Daniel H. Burnham, whose 1909 Plan of Chicago largely designed the
city with the long strip of lakefront parkland that defines it.
Then the bid leaders brought out their big guns for these crowds: a videotape of Barack Obama,
then a candidate for president, in Chicago, his hometown, smiling and
shaking hands with Mr. Daley during a rally last summer for the bid and
declaring his wish that an Olympics reveal Chicago as "not just a city
that works, but a city that inspires."
Patrick G. Ryan, the founder of the Aon Corporation
and the chairman of the bid committee, told one crowd that the thought
that private money being raised for the Games might otherwise pay for
schools, garbage collection or city workers' salaries was wrong.
"To say we could spend the money either hosting the Games or on
something else is really a false choice," Mr. Ryan said. "This money
only comes in if we win."