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Olympics Mon Feb 16 2009

Q&A with the Chicago 2016 Bid Book

The much anticipated Chicago 2016 Bid Book was released this past Friday. To help explain the details within the 3-volume book, Mechanics' Bob Quellos sat down to discuss the Chicago 2016 bid with -- the Bid Book itself.

BQ: Where are the majority of events in Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid to take place?

BB: [On] Chicago's most valued public land -- the city's lakefront, parks and schools -- will be used for the majority of the Olympic Games competition and training venues. All approvals from the Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Schools are in place, and no land acquisition is required. (Vol. 2, page 81)

BQ: Originally, Chicagoans were told the Olympics wouldn't cost them a dime. Is this still true?

BB: The Games budget includes more than $450 million of financial contingencies against cost increases or revenue shortfalls. In addition, the City of Chicago has agreed to a $500 million guarantee and indemnity to cover any potential operating shortfall by CHICOG. A private insurer has indicated its interest in providing coverage against a potential financial shortfall or risks not covered in Games cancellation policies obtained jointly by the IOC and CHICOG. (Vol. 1, page 107)

The City of Chicago has signed a contract to purchase the Olympic Village site and has obtained long-term financing for the purchase. (Vol. 1, page 109)

The city has further agreed to support the site with a tax increment financing (TIF) strategy that would provide financing for significant infrastructure and improvements on the site. TIF raises funds for development projects by capturing future incremental tax revenues that can be
reimbursed to the developer for eligible development costs. (Vol. 2, page 203)

The Chicago Park District has committed to constructing the permanent venue components of the Olympic Island Slalom Course and will contribute to the permanent construction costs of the velodrome venue in Douglas Park. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to pay approximately 50 percent of the cost to build the breakwater for the rowing venue in Monroe Harbor. (Vol. 1, page 109)

BQ: Will the IOC or CHICOG be responsible for paying taxes?

BB: Chicago 2016 anticipates that CHICOG and the IOC will have tax-exempt status in the United States.

CHICOG will be organized as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation and qualifieed as a charitable organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, CHICOG will be exempt from income taxes (excluding any taxes on unrelated trade or business income, which are described below). (Vol. 1, page 113)

Payments from CHICOG to the IOC in connection with the Games would not be subject to taxation. Such payments are considered to be substantially related to the exercise of the IOC's tax-exempt purposes and would therefore be exempt from U.S. taxes. Royalties, rents and interest are all exempt from taxation. (Vol. 1, page 115)

BQ: Many Chicagoans are hoping the Olympic will improve the city's transit system. What are the plans for transit improvements?

BB: Venues have been proposed near existing public-transit lines and high-capacity roadways, maximizing the use of existing infrastructure and eliminating the need for any new lines or roads.

BQ: It looks like you are proposing privatizing 31st Street Beach as part of the Olympic Village plan?

BB: Organized around a central Main Street, the Village will include an exciting range of amenities, including a private lakefront beach, that will support competition preparation as well as celebration. (Vol. 2, page 187)

Author's note: The Bid Book never directly states where the private beach for the athletes will be. However, it is clear from the renderings that 31st Beach is intended to be the "private beach" and thus -- off-limits to the public during the Olympics.

BQ: What about demonstrations or protests that might occur during the Olympics?

BB: Demonstrators and activists are often attracted to the Games because of the event's high profile and media attention. COPSC will designate areas for these groups to exercise their constitutional right to engage in free speech and peaceful demonstrations without interfering with the Games.

Through focused planning, an existing legal framework and specially trained personnel, COPSC will deploy the appropriate resources to monitor and manage protests and to maintain public order. Chicago 2016 is conducting community relations efforts to maintain a dialogue with local organizations in order to address their concerns. The City of Chicago has also reached out to these groups and will continue to work with them. During the Games, the city will issue permits to designated free-speech zones. (Vol. 3, page 29)

BQ: Why free-speech zones? Do you see a problem with protest?

BB: Activism and its various forms of peaceful demonstration are a routine and valued element of U.S. society. However, public-safety agencies on the national, state and local levels are committed to the detection, deterrence and response to activism that threatens public order. (Vol. 3, page 33)

BQ: What kind of police presence should we expect during the Games?

BB: Staffing estimates for police indicate that a large majority of the 13,300 Chicago Police Department officers will be assigned to both public-safety functions and Games-related duties during the Games period. An analysis of deployment and scheduling estimates -- combined with workforce projections for 2016 -- indicates that COPSC will have an adequate force to meet the demands of the Games as well as the public-safety obligations to the community. (Vol. 3, page 41)

BQ: The Summer Olympics in Atlanta witnessed civil-rights violations, partially as a result of actions by private-security forces. The situation in Atlanta prompted the ACLU to warn Salt Lake City residents about possible civil-rights violations by private-security forces in the run-up to the 2002 Summer Olympics. What should Chicagoans expect?

BB: Chicago 2016 estimates it will need a total of 7,000 private-security personnel during the Games. (Vol. 3, page 41)

BQ: What about the military? Are you aware that Chicago has a poor record with regards to the armed forces patrolling its streets?

BB: The resources of the armed forces will be utilized in the security operation. Federal and state armed forces will be deployed in key operational support roles, such as addressing violations of the air and water access restrictions. In addition, specially trained teams will be on standby to respond to any explosive, chemical, biological and radiological issues that may arise.

Approximately 5,000 members of the U.S. military and National Guard provided specialized support during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games as part of the Joint Task Force-Olympics. The contributions of the armed forces included logistics, communications, explosive-detection teams, physical security, aviation and temporary facilities. (Vol. 3, page 39)

BQ: Finally, did you mention that highway lanes will be dedicated to the Olympic Family? Do you know how bad Chicago traffic already is?

BB: Chicago 2016 has identified a system of Olympic Lanes to provide a high level of service for Olympic constituent groups before, during and after the Games. Olympic Lanes on Chicago's motorways will transport members of the Olympic Family from the airports to the downtown area and from the downtown area to the additional venues. City arterials will also offer Olympic Lanes to accommodate Olympic traffic. (Vol. 3, page 129)

Disclosure: Bob Quellos is a founding member of No Games: Chicago, a grassroots organizations of individuals and organizations opposing the city's bid for the 2016 Olympic games.

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A Fan / February 16, 2009 7:36 AM

Looks like somebody took their "grumpy" pill this morning.

No / February 16, 2009 9:47 AM

Privatized beaches? Seriously, we are headed to Third World style cities split between safe, manicured areas for the rich and vast stretches of disrepair and desolation for the rest of us.

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