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Alderman for & local organizer against the Olympics

Wednesday 16 September, 2009

I attended another Chicago Olympics event, Chicago 2016: The Thrill of Victory or the Agony of Defeat? this time @ the Chicago Historical Museum.  It featured Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, in whose ward much of the development for the Olympics would fall, & Jay Travis, the executive director of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), which represents neighborhoods where much Olympic construction would happen as well.  The handouts included the documents created by The Civic Federation which reviewed the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid, which can be found here & the summary here.

Here’s what was said that’s not contained in those documents:

  • the US federal government makes no investments before an Olympic city is named, only afterwards
  • an MOU is not legally binding, but an ordinance is the law
  • Jay is still concerned about displacement, rising prices, long-term employment, & eminent domain issues
  • 1/4-ly reports to the city council will provide transparency
  • the bottom line is the alderman believes that with the financial guarantees & insurance, the finances for the Chicago 2016 Olympics are secure.
  • Q&A resulted in typical Chicago town-hall fashion being reduced to incendiary accusations of the alderman’s husband benefiting from real-estate deals coming out of the Olympics.

What surprises me is that the community organizers fail to recognize the long-term economic benefits gained by hosting the Summer Olympics.  There are risks, & they are correct to have them addressed, but if Chicago can get the Olympics, I don’t think there’s any question it will be good for the city.

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