Dear Member of the International Olympic Committee:
The League of Women Voters is a 79-year old organization that promotes civic engagement and informed voting in all elections. The organization was started in Chicago. Their members and leaders are among the most informed and active citizens in our city.
Today the Chicago League of Women Voters went on record opposing Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid.
Questionable Olympics plan
Chicago Tribune - September 20, 2009
The League of Women Voters of
Chicago opposes the selection of Chicago
as the site of the 2016 Summer Olympics. We do so in reliance on the principle
of our organization that democratic government depends upon the informed and
active participation of its citizens and requires that governmental bodies
protect the people's right to know by giving adequate notice of proposed
actions, holding open meetings and making public records accessible.
Preparation of the Chicago bid to host the 2016 Olympics did not provide us
with adequate notice of the proposal as it developed, and we had no opportunity
to comment or question aspects of the proposal.
Many questions exist; the bid proposal, ostensibly a privately developed plan,
relies on substantial public funding and facilities. With declining revenue to
fund existing city and Park District costs, what sources exist to fund
construction of the Olympics facilities? Will TIF funds be used? And from which
TIF districts? On what basis does the Olympics planning committee believe that
the federal government will provide the funds for transit repair and extension
or the security costs?
Our organization believes that the parks should be used for public recreation
only, consistent with and enhancing their aesthetic quality. Buildings should
be kept to a minimum. Funds should be distributed equitably for maintenance and
development of parks throughout the city. Construction of the venues in the
parks will eliminate open space for residents' use. This is space in which an
individual can walk, children can play games and families can gather.
A separate concern is the lengthy withdrawal of park facilities from public
use. Areas of Washington, Douglas and Jackson Parks will be closed to the
public during construction and the post-Olympics facilities will eliminate
residents' unstructured use of open space. Also, will park maintenance and
programs continue unaffected by the Olympics preparations? Or will these
decline to provide funds for the construction? The preparation of the Chicago
Olympics bid occupied years and the plan relies on public money from all levels
of government. Yet only recently have public meetings been held throughout the
city. The people can comment, but we cannot influence either the proposal or
the decision to seek selection as the site of the 2016 Olympics. The Chicago bid to host the
2016 Olympics was undemocratic and unworthy of the great city in which we live.
-- Esta Kallen, president,
-- Margaret Herring, board member,
League of Women Voters of Chicago