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Olympics Mon Sep 28 2009

An Open Letter to Barack Obama: For the good of Chicago, don't go to Copenhagen.

Dear President Obama:

This summer has not been easy for many people who reside in Chicago. As the city entered into the final leg of competition for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Chicago citizens witnessed cuts in services, and city employees were forced to take furlough days to balance the budget. At the same time, many state programs and jobs were slashed.

While funds were nowhere to be found for basic services, the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid committee, the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois lined up nearly $2 billion in taxpayer funds for the 2016 Olympics.

A recent WGN/Chicago Tribune poll found that less than half of Chicagoans support the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid, and that 84 percent were opposed to using tax revenue to cover any losses incurred. Only recently did the Chicago 2016 bid committee make any effort to engage the community in citywide meetings where it was evident that many in Chicago had deep concerns about hosting the Olympics, including the potential for cost overruns and resident displacement.

As a longtime resident of Chicago, you are well aware that in this city, cost overruns and delays of large civic construction projects go hand in hand.

Millennium Park came in four years behind schedule and three times over budget. The recent construction on the Dan Ryan Expressway came in at twice its original budget. And last summer, construction was halted on a "super-station" for express trains between Chicago-area airports and the Loop business district--$213 million has been spent on the project, and today, there isn't much more than a concrete hole in the ground to show for it.

Costs overruns and the Olympics also go hand in hand. The city of Vancouver, which will host the 2010 Winter Olympics, is $6 billion in debt, a tab that will be picked up by taxpayers. And the 2012 Summer Olympics in London are four times more expensive than the initial budgeted figure--with a total cost running currently at $20 billion, nearly three years ahead of the opening ceremonies.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

AS YOU well know from your days as a community organizer, displacement and gentrification are issues of great importance to many poor and working class neighborhoods of Chicago. This is especially true in Chicago's mostly African American South Side neighborhoods, where a majority of the Olympic venues and the Olympic Village will be located.

Over the last 20 years, the Olympics have been increasingly associated with the displacement of local residents in host cities. The Chicago 2016 bid committee has been touting the success of the Atlanta games in 1996. However, it continually fails to mention that the Atlanta Olympics displaced 30,000 residents and over 800 units of public housing were demolished.

If Chicago is awarded the 2016 Olympic Games, corruption, cronyism, cost overruns and displacement are guaranteed. The Olympic tab for which taxpayers will be responsible will add up, and the historic and much-cherished public parks where Olympic venues are slated to be located will be closed and demolished.

At the same time, the city of Chicago's financial problems will only get worse. The mayor's office is already predicting that the budget crisis in 2010 will be worse than 2009. Basic services will continue to be cut. City workers will continue to be laid off. Schools will continue to be closed. And the politicians at City Hall will continue to tell the city's residents that we all have to share the burden, like they did this past summer.

The mayor and Chicago 2016 may not yet realize it, but they will be unlocking a hornet's nest of resident discontent.

We know that Mayor Daley and the Chicago 2016 committee are pinning their hopes on your presence in Copenhagen for the final decision on October 2. But we are asking that you reconsider your decision to go.

Stay home and represent the will of Chicagoans who are tired of the corruption that plagues politics in this city, tired of watching their tax dollars funneled elsewhere while their neighborhoods crumble, and tired of being lied to and ignored by elected officials.

The people of Chicago who packed Grant Park on Election Night to listen to your victory speech joined you in hopes of change. Change in Chicago would mean a direct investment in hospitals, housing, schools, trains and other services that would improve the quality of life in our city.

Chicago's Olympic bid isn't a promise of change--it's just more politics as usual.

Bob Quellos
Co-founder, No Games Chicago

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Joe / September 28, 2009 6:19 PM

I think its funny that a writer for "The Socialist Worker" is against union workers building new venues that will exist for public use as part of a celebration of international unity.

It is a testament to the uniqueness and broad appeal of this city that people from all walks of life, like Bob Quellos, are welcome and supported in Chicago.

FORMER ATLANTA RESIDENT / September 28, 2009 7:46 PM

I lived in Atlanta during the '96 Olympics and saw both sides. The positive bits included the excitement of attending several games, being in the international spotlight (several multinationals later established headquarters there) and the development of places like Centenial Park. Hell, my college dormitories were built to house Olympic athletes. But the negative really sucked too. The city had no infrastructure to support the games. MARTA is still completely worthless, homeless people were forced onto buses and shipped off to who knows where and historic (albeit underserved) communities were completely erased.

BTW, That's a pretty shortsighted view regarding union workers, Joe. Are you really that myopic?

Ramsin / September 28, 2009 8:09 PM

Yes, if no Olympics comes, there will never be anything for union workers to build again.

What about the low-wage union workers who will have the cost of their housing skyrocket?

Dennis Fritz / September 28, 2009 8:29 PM

Well said, Bob. I still have hope this thing will turn into Daley's Great White Whale.

Matt / September 28, 2009 9:27 PM

I'm no supporter of the Olympics coming here, but I am a bit disappointed that so much of the anti-Olympics criticism hinges on an assuredness that money will be squandered by the city. Doesn't anyone have faith in The City That Works anymore? After the Olympics decision is over, will anyone be able to channel this disatisfaction into positive change to improve how things are done around here?

Jim / September 28, 2009 9:30 PM

Blah, blah, blah. Another pointless article with no real point except the typical anti-Daley we hate Chicago rant. I'm tired of this reactionary stance. Instead of writing pointless articles why not do something more productive if you see a problem? Do you really think that by NOT getting the Olympics somehow everything will change?

Jeremy / September 28, 2009 10:02 PM

Matt: You ask, "Doesn't anyone have faith in the City That Works anymore?" If you mean faith in the government, then no. You talk as though people are guessing blindly that money will be wasted. The current administration has a demonstrated pattern of doubling or tripling its budgets on large projects. Their plans *will* displace people and drive the cost of rent and food and most other things up. And what is the upside for us? We'll paying for the next many years for the privilege of being swarmed and displaced.

And Jim: You ask, "Do you really think that by NOT getting the Olympics somehow everything will change?" You've got it backwards. By *getting* the Olympics, many things will change for the worse. Of course avoiding the Olympics won't solve Chicago's problems, but neither will proceeding with the status quo.

Roland S / September 28, 2009 11:10 PM

You all are still relying on stupid assumptions. I don't dispute the likelihood of cost overruns, but displacements? All Olympic facilities are already existing or will be built on parkland or otherwise unoccupied sites. Land speculation around Olympic sites (and ensuing gentrification) is a monumentally stupid idea, since the value added of the Olympic sites will disappear when those temporary sites are torn down after the Games. To the extent that impoverished and bombed-out neighborhoods can be filled in, I support the idea, although even that is unlikely.

You guys are wasting time protesting Chicago 2016 while CHA is currently enacting policies that lead to displacements, dumping people on the street who do not meet their new, stricter requirements. These policies will continue whether we get the Games or not.

And as for the cost overruns - LA hosted in 1984 and turned a substantial profit, because of their heavy USE OF EXISTING VENUES. Chicago's plan to use as many existing venues as possible, filling in the rest with temporary structures, is a very affordable plan for the city.

DJDeeJay / September 29, 2009 9:50 AM

Roland, your example of the LA Olympics and how Chicago could be just as successful following their plan is fine, as long you ignore the fact that Chicago can't get anything done a) one time and b) within budget.

Just using the few quick examples here in this article like Millenium Park, the expressway and especially the time-and-money black hole that is the Loop "super station," we know Daley's administration has a reputation for penalzing taxpayers for their financial messes.

Amy K / September 29, 2009 10:06 AM

Millenium Park was privately financed.

The Dan Ryan was financed by IDOT.

Get it right - we are AWESOME at spending other people's money for a really long time. When it's our own funds we get big holes in the ground.

As long as y'all keep on voting for Mare Daley - this is what you get. Bring the Olympics on. I want the Paraolympics, it's cool as hell and Access Living will be able to represent.

Dennis Fritz / September 29, 2009 10:06 AM

More unsettling is the fact Chicago's entire press for the 2016 has been carried on in an atmoshpere of extreme secrecy. Sure, there's been plentry of Chicago 2016 hype; however, the details of the plan remain murky. Who are they being hidden from? Not the planners--they know what's going on. Not the IOC--they know as well. Who does that leave? It leaves the people of Chicago and, to a great extent, their elected aldermanic representatives. Add to that the succession of independent reviews which have found the city's revenue projections to be grossly inflated, and I'd say we have a real problem here.

agha dilbar gardezi / October 26, 2009 4:04 AM

Subject: Peace and Prosperity
Dear President Barrack Obama
the Great Leader of the World
I Agha Dilbar have sent Mr. President 100 registered research Letters (1000 new ideas to develop America and to Change the World for Peace and Prosperity) through Embassy of USA Islamabad till today and also direct sent these registered Letters to Whitehouse Washington DC 20500.These letters have been written on the guidelines of CHANGE WE NEED. And these letters are about the Common Men Problems of respected American Peoples and their Solutions. To end, Economic Recession, Unemployment and to Finish War, all round the World for Peace and Prosperity. In these letters I have sent one thousand new scientific Planning /Suggestions, about every walk of life for Peace through Friendship Progress and Prosperity all over the World.
Dear Barrack Obama, the Great Leader of the World, my Friend, my Brother, Provide an opportunity to Agha Dilbar to pay an Official Visit to America, that we two brothers can sit together and by halting this horrible war(In this war 1-million peoples have died from 9/11 till today, if this war continues, it will become the 111- World War.200-Million people would die, if 111-World War is triggered) can take out 6.5 billion people of the World from abyss of destruction and then put them on the road to Progress and Prosperity.
Dear President Barrack Obama considers, from 9/11 till today, America has conducted many war operations in connection with War on Terror, resulting the circle of war has spread hundred times. Millions innocent persons have died. Many More have been rendered homeless. One Lak (10000) war affected youth joined the army of Al-Qaida and Talban by the help of anti American countries have begun gorilla war in a horrible manner. It is the result of wrong war strategy. I Agha Dilbar desire to solve all above mentioned problems in a meeting with President Barrack Obama by adopting new revolutionary planning by bringing an end to present gorilla war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the result the World can enter in a peaceful, advanced and progressive world, May it be so.
I Agha Dilbar have a new War Strategy to achieve success through Table Talk between Talban, Pakistan and American Govts. 90% of Talban that are fighting against Pak Army belong from Swat and Tribal Areas of NWFP. I can provide America all realistic facts in such manner that their implementation could convert these Talban into Patriotic Citizens of Pakistan. In this War Strategy Pakistan Gov will never send his Heavy Artillery, Tanks, Cannons and Air craft in war. In this way 5-million persons will never Displaced. In the end Talban by their will handover, their Weapons to Pakistan Gov, they will come to Table Talk and Suicide Bombing will come to an end in Pakistan. Through this War Strategy Pakistani and American Govts can save expenses on war. Through this planning American and Pakistani Govts can utilize their saving on war budgets for development of Schools, Hospitals, Colonies, Markets, Roads, Bridges, Dams, Canals and Industries of Swat and Tribal Areas of NWFP that are war affected. On account of present war strategy, Billion Dollars are being wasted yearly.
This war can cause Fall of America instead of continuation of war; my best suggestion for America must keep his Supper Power on the World and should conquer the World instead of war, but by his No-1 scientific technology spending on agriculture, trade, education, scientific development and tourism, all round the World. Making an end to Economic Crisis in America.
A new Global Package is being offered for your kind honor. America will have to make complete and final announcement that in future all Multinational American Companies to get free land on 20-years lease and will set up under the BOOT agreement (in undeveloped and poor countries) factories, mills five star hotels, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, air companies, shipping companies, latest railway, bus transport and steel mills. All these companies will be bound to handover without any cost to under developed and poor countries well as their machinery and transport after 20-yaars. A new suggestion in connection with Global Peace is offered that in return of export American Agriculture and Industrial Products, will give his 50% prophet to the exporting countries and utilize as Aid on the development of agriculture, industry, trade, education and tourism. This suggestion, making an end to American Economic Crisis and get full support to enhance his Foreign Public Relation
. May it be so?
To make successful American Foreign Policy on Global Level the following planning is put before:
a) America will have to provide free scholar ships at least to ten top master students (in each country) of medical and science in underdeveloped and poor countries of the world
b) Highly educated and well trained one hundred cultural groups (each group contains 100 persons) will have to arrange one hundred cultural shows for three months in big cities of underdeveloped and poor countries.
c) America will have to arrange exhibitions through his Embassies for his latest products, in the underdeveloped and poor countries .All these mentioned above industrial exhibitions will be arranged continuously for two months. In the above mentioned exhibitions present products will be sold except export order booking. In mentioned above exhibitions, American Cultural Programs will have to arrange and American Traditional Dishes will be kept for sale. In these exhibitions American Tourism Stalls will also be set of.

Following rules and regulations will be undertaken for the progress and prosperity of American students.
a) Among metric, fsc, bsc, (engineering).mbbs, llb, ca and diploma holders in all institutions, all those receiving degrees at the state level, ten each from girls and boys by cash prizes will be announced on behalf of the gov during invitation on lunch.
b) For above mentioned top ten intelligent students boys and girls each, tours for different historical and healthy sites will be arranged free of cast.
c) Talent schools of international level will be set up over the country at the district level, in which students of extra-ordinary sports talent taught from class one to fsc level.
d) American states gov will announce free transport, free lunch during education to all school, college and university students.
Minimize the aforesaid differences, which I will deliver to president
the increasing distress and hatred between the Muslim world and America is the major cause of week relationship on public and government level. As a sincere friend I have practical suggestions to Barack Obama in my official visit to America.
I request the government of America to allow me to describe (first of all my briefing with president’s advisors). My one thousand plans & ideas for changing the world before one to one meeting with the president Barac obama.thanks
I Agha Dilbar have sent Ten Million research Peace Letters to International Community from 9/11 incident till today. This letter is my Great Peace Mission plan which is continued. Present Global Economic Crisis is the result of War on Terror. This Crisis if further accelerates could initiate a 111-World War. Please hear my Voice of Truth; I can save the World, for my Great Peace Mission, with the help of President Barrack Obama, Peace and Prosperity.
The Government of America will announce to provide free home facility to employees after 20 year of service as per following rules and regulations.

1. For providing free home facility to their employees after retirement the government will deduct 2 ½% amounts for their monthly salaries.
2. The government of America will deduct 2 ½% amounts of salaries to the employee and will deposit the same in government treasury which shall be paid to the housing company on monthly basis.
3. The housing company shall provide beautiful home to the government or non government employee after 20 year of service.
4. The people not acquiring home after 20 year of service shall be paid in whole by deducted total amount from their salaries during their employment

Mr. Barack Obama you are not only the Leader of America, you are Great Leader of the World. In this connection I am waiting for your Email response, dated 2.10.2009.
Please Confirm.
Thank you, God blesses you and God bless America.
Agha Dilbar (founder)
International Revolution Movement
64-neelum block ait Lahore (Pakistan)
Phone: 0092427830084,0092427830084
Cell 03224628349

This Open Letter has been sent One Lak (100000) to International Community for the welfare of Humanity till today. I Agha Dilbar authorize Newspapers, Magazines, Internet, to Publish and Radio, T.V. Channels to broadcast this letter all round the World

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