Just Say “NO” (September 30, 2009)

Well it took awhile, but the Obamas, both Barack and Michelle, have finally pissed me off. As most of you are aware, the decision regarding the hosting City for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be handed down this Friday morning. Chicago’s chances seem to be rather strong, and I have no doubt that a firm last minute push from the glamourous First Couple of the United States makes a compelling inducement. Michelle Obama is in Copenhagen as I write, smooching the behinds of the IOC:


I will lay my cards on the table. I am 100% against the Chicago Olympic bid, not the least because it is a ram-it-down-our-throats attempt by the corrupt King Daley to secure his legacy as the Best Mayor Ever. That certainly does not help matters, but I have what I believe are other solid reasons for withholding my personal support:

1. Chicago’s infrastructure: roads, bridges, the CTA – in large part decrepit, and certainly not able to welcome millions of international travelers.

2. The economy is still sluggish and the City is nearly bankrupt. They do not have the funds to fix #1.

3. The City’s plan, I mean “Chicago 2016’s” plan (a activist group of which King Daley is an honorary chairman) to secure private and Federal funding, without a local increase in taxes to pay for the Games, basically consists of a wish, a hope and a prayer.

4. When questioned about #3, Chicago 2016 representatives get defensive and try to limit inquiry by using the same sort of dissenters-as-unpatriotic rhetoric that would make Dick Cheney proud. How do I know this? Because I attended one of the organization’s community meetings and saw it myself.

5. The answer to the anticipated traffic congestion upswing is to shut off parking downtown and double the capacity of the CTA, not with more environmentally friendly trains, but with carbon monoxide burping buses.

6. The “eminent domain” displacement of many South Side residents in order to make way for Olympic village structures. The City “guarantees” this will not happen. However, I interviewed a women from Housing Bronzeville a few weeks back who has already been “unofficially” approached about relocating.

7. Finally, the most selfish reason of all: Chicago is a spectacular City, a place with a relatively affordable cost of living, a somewhat hidden gem behind the flashier New York City and L.A. The crowds, congestion, fame and waste of the Games will change all that forever.

My friend Tim argued last night that the benefit to Chicago, with respect to short- to medium- term job creation and economic stimulus, outweighs all the negatives. I am not sure of that. I have wanted and needed people in charge to convince me we are not just mortgaging our future to pay for a little bit of televised glory. I have seen and heard the City’s financial proposals. They are weak, and I am more than slightly afraid they will ultimately hit City residents where it hurts: in their homes and wallets.

I know there are strong feelings and disparate viewpoints on this charged topic. Please share.


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