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No Games Chicago Update
54 Days To Decision
Daily News

 
August 8, 2009
The People Speak

Chicago isn't prepared, financially or socially, to host an Olympics. Daley is too corrupt of an official to be honest and open about the bids, grants, and tax dollars. Too many people are seeing the short-term tourism effects rather than the long-term, negative socio-economic effects.

Kimberly Richardson
Chicago


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Open letter to the IOC:
"Why you don't want to give the Olympics to Chicago"


Dear Member of the International Olympic Committee:  

Residents continue to flock to the 2016 Committee's community meetings demanding answers to tough questions. We think it's fair to say - these questions are NOT being answered.

49th Ward 2016 meeting

By Dimitrios Kalantzis - Lake Effect News

 If pointing out the holes within a salesman's pitch were an Olympic sport, Rogers Park would have a gold medal. Last night more than 150 people packed the Rogers Park Public Library with an overwhelming message for the Chicago 2016 Olympic committee: the emperor is not, in fact, wearing any clothes.

Residents and activists of the 49th Ward listened to the committee's 35-minute presentation, the 27th so far of the mayoral ordered community meetings, which included sound bites from pro-sports athletes and President Barack Obama.

As reported last month by LEN, the golden goose eggs offered up by Chicago 2016, include 31,000 jobs over the next 10 years, $10 million for work force development, $1 billion in federal money for repairing Chicago's mass transit system, new sports and recreational facilities to be turned over to city parks, and a lasting legacy for the children.

But when the floor was opened for questions, the crowd went hunting for the magic beans.
"In the history of Chicago and minorities," said one resident, "when it comes to the goodies, it's not good."

"Is there anything projected in the future that can address that?" the man asked before turning to Ald. Joe Moore, saying, "we bungled the parking meters."

Arnold Randall, director of Neighborhood Legacies at Chicago 2016, tried to deflect talk of the City Council's infamous 75-year parking meter deal to no avail.

"It's interconnected," the man said in response.
The onslaught continued.

"I think it's disingenuous to say there's zero risk, because quite frankly there's no such thing as zero risk," said Seth Mayer, a 5-year resident of Rogers Park, quoting Chicago 2016 president Lori Healey.
"I'd much rather have an honest assessment of what the risks are than be told just: 'trust us, trust us,'" Mayer said.

Chicago 2016 will take out insurance policies to protect it against the "unforeseen kinds of acts," said Healey: sponsor's bankruptcies, cancelled games and acts of terrorism; premiums will cost at least $41 million.

Another resident questioned the committee's plan to offer 30 percent affordable housing in the Olympic Village following the games, citing the recent University Village scandal, in which many units were purchased by non-qualifying buyers for profit.
When residents asked about the oft-penny-pinched Chicago Transit Authority, Healey dropped a bombshell for many residents who mistakenly think CTA improvements are guaranteed:

"Our budget does not contain funding for CTA improvements," Healey said.

"However history has shown that when U.S. cities get the games that they get infrastructure funding from the federal government to help support that," she said.

Residents continued to evoke Chicago's current budget woes, much to the support of the audience and chagrin of the panel.

"My question is concerning the budget and the fact that I don't really believe in your budget," said one resident. "The city's broke and we can't pay our daily expenses without selling off our parking meters," he said, garnering applause from the crowd.
Citing a No Games Chicago report that China spent $40 billion and that London spent $16 billion, stark contrasts to Chicago's estimated $3.8 billion in expected costs, Chicago 2016 blamed those added expenses on misguided infrastructure development, mistakes Chicago will not replicate, Healey said.
"Once we do get the bids and actual work starts, who's going to provide oversight?" asked another resident.

"I personally don't trust the way the city does things," she said.

If the city wins its bid, a new Olympic board will be appointed by the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. National Olympic Committee, said Healey. President Obama, the Illinois Governor and even the Mayor and "business community" can make appointments to the board, Healey said.
The "transparency" of expenditures, she said, will be "web-based and reviewable by the public."
Residents continued voicing their apprehensions, articulating the desperation many of us feel through this recession. "Chicagoans love their city," said one woman, "but we also feel as though our quality of life is eroding."

Ultimately and despite the tough, pointed questions, Chicago 2016 was not on trial last night; the city of Chicago was.

Following the meeting, Ald. Joe Moore (49th Ward) said, "I think the questions that were asked were intelligent, for the most part, very thoughtful and, uh, I feel it was a good meeting."

The City Council is now waiting on an independent review board's report on Chicago 2016's proposed budget. It is expected to be released in late August or early September. When asked if that would give the City Council enough time to review the report before the October 2 IOC announcement, Moore said, "Hopefully, we'll have enough time."

As one man said, using a simple analogy:
"I think the Olympics will do a great benefit to the city, but as it seems, most people have said: Clout Chicago