Category Archives: rio de janeiro

>OBSERVATION: Chicago Olympics? Not likely.

>According to the latest reports, of the four finalist cities, Chicago is in third place in public support for the Olympics with a luke warm 74 percent. Madrid takes the gold with 90 percent public support. Rio de Janeiro is second with 77 percent, and Tokyo is out of medal range with an embarrassing 59 percent support. The people of Tokyo hosted a summer Olympics in the past. Should their lack of enthusiasm tell us something?

So far, the Chicago Olympic bid is generating nothing but positive civic booster publicity. So much so, that it is ominous that one-fourth of the public is not enthused. I suspect Rio will boost its ranking and Chicago will slip a bit as some of the downsides and objectors begin to surface.

The two big factors are money and infrastructure. While the Chicago Olympic committee talks about the enormous inflow of case from the quadrennial event, most Chicagoans know that optimistic economic b—s— is the standard in Chicago.

There is the case of the enormous cost overruns for Millennium Park and the short fall in the Grant Park parking garage as a source of funding. One of the major reasons Mayor Daley wants the Chicago Children’s Museum in Grant Park is to shore up the garage revenues – and that probably will be the next disappointment. The foredoomed bottle tax is generating only 25 percent of the revenue the smarty-guy economic forecasters predicted.

It is almost beyond debate that Olympic costs will soar and revenues will fall very short of projections, IF Chicago is selected by the International Olympic Committee. It is the Chicago way.
While much has been said about private sector funding of the Olympic bid, a lot more taxpayer money will be spent than anyone in City Hall will admit. And even the so-called private funding will be provided by CEOs from the corporate treasury – indiscriminately using stockholder money instead of their own. Again, it is the Chicago way.

The lust for the Olympics does not come from grass-level civic pride, but rather from elitist insiders who see the international games as the next cash cow/ego trip. For the Mayor, it is a jewel in the career crown, with tons of dinero to spread around to friends. There are those who will enjoy enormous financial windfalls, and those who will get all the front row seats and headtable assignments — and those who will get both. The only people who will be left out of the goodies are those paying the tab. Taxpayers and corporate shareholders will be footing the bill, but left fighting for a few tickets in the upper decks. The Chicago way.

If I am correct, however, the only money that will be wasted is the taxpayer and shareholder contributions to the Olympic bid effort. There is an overriding reason Chicago will not get the Olympics, in my opinion. It is C-O-R-R-U-P-T-I-O-N. The political/business environment of Chicago is just too greedy and crooked to be trusted to handle the Olympics.

Perhaps we locals are used to operating within this culture of corruption, but we cannot expect the OIC to embrace our low standards of public service and political performance. The international folks are not fitted with the same civic blinders that prevent us locals from seeing the corruption and criminality that characterizes our political culture.

As Olympic plans move forward, it is likely that controversy will ensue. Who is getting appointed to what? And why? Wired in contracts. Dislocation of neighborhoods. Disruption and environmental denigration of green space.

There is also the emboldenment of the civic community in response to the increasingly autocratic style of the Mayor. The night time destruction of Meigs and the forced imposition of the Children’s Museum in Grant Park were victories for the Mayor. In their wake, however, there appears to be an anti-Daley coalition forming. Behind closed doors, many civic activists see the sinking of the Mayor’s pet Olympic project as the perfect retribution. Given the natural problems the Chicago bid already faces, it will not take a lot of civic turmoil to scare off the OIC.

There is also the question of “the great uncertainty.” The IOC will make the final decision in 2009, but they must envision the Chicago of 2016. Given the growing financial crises at the city and county levels, and the uncertainty of the power of the historic Democrat machine, there is ever reason to question whether Chicago can provide the longer term stability the IOC would be seeking.

If you have any desire to be in the stands for the 2016 Olympics, I would book a flight to Rio.

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