Dear Member of the
International Olympic Committee:
The 2016 Committee continues to meet with community members. The more they meet, the angrier the community residents get.
Bronzeville Not Buying The Olympic Guarantee
Angela Caputo - Progress Illinois - August 12, 2009
Ever since they got a whiff of proposed plans to turn their Chicago
neighborhoods into ground zero for the 2016 Olympics, many South Side
residents have grown concerned that they will end up sidelined by the
games. Last year, a coalition organizations began pressuring
City Hall to produce a legally-binding "community benefits agreement"
to guarantee the locals would see a cut -- via apprenticeships and housing --
of the Olympic development boom. As regular readers know, the city
initially attempted to stonewall
But their campaign ultimately produced some bad PR for the
bid committee, not to mention the mayor, and the City Hall insiders
relented -- sort of. In March, Chicago 2016 agreed to sign a non-binding
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) upping minority contracting, local
employment, and affordable housing goals. But legal experts subsequently confirmed what community groups knew all along: the document hardly represents a guarantee.
Apparently, Chicago 2016 thought that they had outfoxed the
coalition -- and the public -- by handing them the MOU and walking away
with some favorable headlines. Indeed, while appearing at one of the
bid committee's community meetings in Bronzeville last night, chairman
Pat Ryan attempted to trot out the document as "legally-binding"
that the South Side is in line for big gains. Luckily, the residents in
invited from the 3rd, 4th, and 20th Wards -- knew better.
"You're selling it like it's going to protect us," Kenwood-Oakland
Community Organization's Jitu Travis told Ryan. "It's not.
Where's the legally-binding document?"
Ryan countered that the committee's obligation is to its private
investors, claiming that they will pay for "100 percent" of
the games' "operating expenses." The identities of all those interests remains under
wraps, though, as the bid committee continues to suspiciously push off
disclosure requirements until after Oct. 2 (when the 2016 host city is
announced). Moreover, the big expenses will come from capital
improvements, not operating expenses. As Tribune business columnist David Greising pointed out yesterday, it's hard to swallow the committee's insistence that the Olympics are solely a private venture:
Chicago 2016's demand that it needs an unlimited financial
guarantee, not to mention $500 million from the city and $250 million
from the state, makes organizing a Chicago Olympics a very public
If last night's meeting is any indication, South Siders are catching
on. When Ryan attempted to prove his confidence in the Chicago 2016
plan by offering to bet each audience member $1,000 that they won't pay
for any of the Olympics, he was virtually
laughed off the stage.