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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, March 5

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prattfall / February 13, 2009 11:40 AM

I'd love to see the Olympics come to Chicago, once Chicago has a clean, efficient, open and transparent government.

The way the bid is now, it's yet another way Daley and his criminal and corporate friends can suck money and resources away from all of us to enrich themselves.

I'm moving.

Dubi / February 13, 2009 11:50 AM

I think the bid should include a provision that IO could revert to its former name (Improv Olympic).

R / February 13, 2009 12:07 PM

The Olympics is the Devil in the White(Washed) City. A million overcolored and photoshopped pictures of downtown, but only an artist's rendering of the places that are going to get mauled by the Olympics plans (Jackson and Douglas Parks, Michael Reese). Nice work guys.

printdude / February 13, 2009 2:26 PM

I am ALL FOR the olympics coming to town. As the only city representing the US right now, i believe it would be a huge boon for alot of people, especially restaurants, suppliers and the like. The amount of work that would be generated for the "little folk" would last a coupla years.
Plus, we could get a fifth star around here.
Think of all the printing that would be involved.
Bring it home!!!!

Willyo / February 13, 2009 3:58 PM

It was months ago that the chairman of the Chicago Olympic Committee said that he was not concerned about public transit. After all, the Olympics are only two weeks long, we can figure something out for just two weeks! This attitude, which I suspect extends beyond the transit issue, forfeits any reasonable citizen a chance to support these games. I'm not interested in a billion+ dollar marketing campaign for the city. I am interested in extending transit lines, creating a fair, mixed-income community and lakefront park on the site of Michael Reese Hospital, and collaboration between community groups and event organizers on developing a fair and beneficial revitalization of Washington Park and it's surroundings. I fail to see how anyone can support an effort that clearly ignores community interest from the bottom up.

charlie / February 13, 2009 4:22 PM

I really like the Olympics. I don't care about all the politics and circus I just love watching the events. It has to be held someplace and Chicago is as good a place as any.

Yeah yeah we should spend the money on schools and trains and bridges and crap. We are going to do that anyway and not just because of the Olympics.

For those of you who think it will put a crimp in your style and be a hassle get over it.

I want me a Velodrome in Chicago!

Cinnamon / February 13, 2009 6:06 PM

I was torn until looking at the bid today. One of the things I liked about the idea was that we might get improvements made to transit lines. But since we're not, I can't support it at all. And I really can't support that the citizens don't get to vote on whether we want it. Sorry, Mayor D, you don't speak for me.

jennifer / February 13, 2009 6:22 PM

i'm with cinnamon. while not completely surprising, it was really disheartening to read that there will not be any transit improvements. daley should be concerned less about trying to impress the world and more about chicago's own residents.

with that said, i'm off to my 1.5 hour, 6 mile commute!

AEM / February 13, 2009 7:11 PM

Aside from the lack of democratic process in anointing a host city, our own city government's lack of transparency on all financial matters and unfortunate history with police torture (that especially doesn't bode well as Chicago looks to join the Olympic Movement, which has ousted 2 million low-income people from their homes in the past 20 years in a system of displacement initiated with the first concentration camps at the Berlin Games in 1936), and the sheer volume of untruths the Chicago 2016 committee's been allowed to forward to us and about us in the name of knowing what's best for Chicago—despite their status as PR-firm backed lobbyists, paid *to bring the Games to Chicago*—I love Coke. Go team America!

charlie / February 14, 2009 7:07 AM

Some real valid points here....

On the other hand why should the Olympics have anything to do with our transit system? If the bid said we get a $1,000,000,000 for public transportation we all take the Olympics in stride to get new trains and buses? I don't get it.

I might be okay with a referendum on a ballot to determine actual support but that seems crazy given that people se the Olympics as a way to bring home some $ for infrastructure. You have the transit crowd fighting the education crowd and health care crowd wants a voice too.

Maybe the scope of the "games" needs to be re considered and more emphasis put back into sport. I agree that this should not be just some huge marketing campaign.

So where does this place with perfect transportation, top notch schools, honest politicians and a population eager to host this event exist?

Because the process is not perfect, maybe even massively flawed we should just scrap the whole idea and continue searching for utopia?

Cheryl / February 15, 2009 10:32 AM

I'm so sick of Ritchie getting his way about everything I really hope this fails. I also hope someone who could win will run against him in the next election.

Cletus Warhol / February 15, 2009 3:22 PM

The reason why transit has to do with the Olympics was that transit improvement was the big carrot that Ritchie was dangling in front of "rank and file" city residents in order to get them behind his grandiose plan.

And to be honest, I would have tolerated all the requisite waste and fraud if a greatly improved transit system was in the offing.

But if they are going to pull that out of the mix, then screw 'em, godspeed to Madrid and Rio.

I once had a great deal of respect for R. Daley II, but he has lost his mind over this Olympic Dream and is so obsessed with getting it rammed through that he has no concern about the effect it will have on the city.

No matter what happens with the bid, he has permanently alienated the base of his support and will face a huge challenge if he runs again. Let's just hope someone other than the usual pack of hacks and lightweights will choose to run. This great city deserves more than to be gutted and sold for spare parts. /rant

annie / February 15, 2009 5:01 PM

I'm with printdude, think of all the jobs!

Marc Blumer / February 15, 2009 5:18 PM

The myriad positions against the Olympic bid actually distill down into three buckets. And since articulating an argument is not among our mayor’s (or, frankly, the city’s editorial pages’) strengths, let me take a crack at exposing a few flaws:

ARGUMENT ONE. - “Chicagoans should not support this bid unless we have a strong say in what, where and when any dollars are spent.”

Tell me this. What is your opinion of Millennium Park and is it different now than when it was being built?

Reason I ask is that the op-ed pages during construction were filled with collective rancor about the project – the costs, the design, perceived unfairness, and the number of people supporting it whose last name was not plastered on a building somewhere could be counted on one hand. Today, that park is widely considered a jewel and a huge boon to the city and Burnham’s plan.

Here’s the thing (and I this in full knowledge that I will get blasted for it): Giant civic works projects cannot be done through an open, inclusive process because our individualistic society is far too selfish.

I’ve attended countless ward meetings over the years and, in practice, the entire process ensures that the needs of the many are always sacrificed for the needs of the few who bother to show up. In the end, selfish interests gain outsized influence because no one turns out on a rainy Tuesday to support the status quo.

For example, if we build a new Red Line extension, the reality is someone will lose their house, someone will be exasperated that a station is farther away than they hoped, someone will not want to hear the noise of the train in their backyard. And these people will raise holy hell, despite the fact that the city would actually now serve a long-underserved community because THEY were inconvenienced. And because outraged citizens always make good video, you can guarantee they’ll be on the news and the gears will grind to a halt while their grievances are discussed.

Now, multiply that one project by a thousand and you have the Olympics. The only way to complete the massive projects needed in hosting and Olympic Games and to have them done on time and anywhere close to on budget is to let professionals do their jobs and worry about the big picture and the greater good without having to navigate every special interest.

ARGUMENT TWO - “Chicagoans should not support this bid unless all corruption is first eliminated from Chicago politics” OR “Chicago is too corrupt to host the Olympics.”

Of the three arguments, I think this one at least has some merits but not for the same reasons being touted around town.

As a taxpayer, I really only care about one thing in contractor selection and that is competence. So all I really want Daley to know is that I won’t tolerate errors. I don’t care who the contract goes to – but you better make damn sure they deliver on time and on budget. And this is an area where the Daley administration is absolutely falling far short of my expectations.

If we could gather a voter consensus around contractor competence and make sure Daley knows that failure in this area is the one thing that would cause a voter revolt, I truly believe that he would come through and affect real change in this city.

Because the worst possibility in Daley’s mind has to be the idea of not being mayor when the Olympics come to town. This is the real power the voters of Chicago have and, if we stopped worrying about the “who” and worried about the “how,” we could ensure ourselves of the full collective benefits of massive infrastructure improvements done well.

ARGUMENT THREE “Chicagoans should not support this bid, no matter what, because it is not in our best interest – inconveniencing many and enriching few.”

Ok, three things here. First of all, have you ever noticed that every person you meet who is first visiting our city says a variation of this statement: “I’m so enamored with this city and I had NO IDEA it was so wonderful?”

Personally, I want the Olympics because I’m passionate about my city and know in my head and heart that, given the chance, the citizens of the world would fall in love as well.

Conversely, aren’t you tired of the lack of respect our city receives? Aren’t you sick of the Forbes magazines of the world dissing our city. Aren’t you sick of being called “flyover country” by pundits and celebrities? Aren’t you sick of foreigners’ opinions of Americans being limited to their experiences with New Yorkers, Californians and Texans?

Finally, if you truly doubt the transformative power of an Olympics, go to Barcelona or talk to any Catalonian. I’ve been there and that wonderful city not only used the opportunity to make huge improvements in their long term quality of life but they also leveraged the exposure to forever change the world’s informed awareness of what their city has to offer.

Having spent time there, I can tell you that Barcelona has so much in common with Chicago in their work ethic, their sophistication and their “second city complex” that the corollaries are as apt as they are obvious.

In Chicago, tourism is already our number one industry. Stop for a minute and think about what it would mean for us if we nailed hosting the Olympics. Think of your family and friends who cook in restaurants, drive cabs, work in retail or anywhere else in hospitality.

Then, think beyond the Olympics, to 2017. Do you know what a 10% increase in international tourism would mean for them and for our tax base? Do you really doubt that the three-week infomercial would not net at least that kind of increase once these people see our city and understand who we are and what we offer?

Here’s a final thought. Think back to election night. Beyond the joy of Obama’s victory, can you honestly tell me your heart did not fill with pride watching every viewer of every TV network watch a million Chicagoans in Grant Park and, for a few hours, our city being the center of the world?

Imagine that feeling for three weeks. Really, imagine it. Ok?

Justin / February 15, 2009 9:21 PM

I want a city that functions better than it does. I won't get it with the Olympics.

What will I get? Two or three weeks of euphoria and a giant mess the morning after -- thousands displaced, no guarantee operations won't run over budget, and a tremendous strain on the infrastructure I rely on to live my life.

Like imagining things? Imagine fighting tourists for a spot on the Red Line to work in the morning. Imagine the rise in vacancies once homeowners can't afford the sudden leap in their property taxes. Imagine the residents (read: poor and black) who've inherited 100 years of ghettoization (let's call it what it is) forced to God knows where from the small plots they've been allowed to this point.

I don't give a damn what others think about Chicago. It's my home and I love it. What's more, I take its faults as a challenge, and love it that much more.

Fight on, Willyo and AEM.

Irisheyes1212 / February 16, 2009 8:12 AM

Eh I don't really care. I'm glad I live in Portage Park and won't really be bothered either way.

matt / February 16, 2009 9:50 AM

I am for it. I think there are some great opportunities for our local economy as well as in the public's eye for our fine city!

spook / February 16, 2009 10:21 AM

Yea this fine city of monkeys walking around managing to see hear and speak no no evil. Yea "all those jobs, and "great opportunities for the local economy" my a*s. Besides for the piles of cash for friends and family of the connected, the second tier of the jobs created will go to the connected construction firms that can never seem to find any Black folks to hire. Oh and lets not forget the minority front firms. The rest of the jobs will be low wage temporary service industry jobs that dry up as soon as the par-tey ends. This is why this city sucks, very few manage to think of any thing outside the north side and themselves which is why I'm not going to get into the impact of other communities like Washington Park

Mucky Fingers / February 16, 2009 11:39 AM

First comment by prattfall nailed it.

The Olympics might be fun, I just don't want it all organized by Daley.

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