2016 Community Meetings Getting Uglier

As reported by the Provocateur:

Reporting from the 44th, 46th, and 48th Ward Olympics Community Meeting

Now, I went to another one of these a couple weeks back. The difference was that this particular “town hall” was put on entirely by the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee. As such, this was something akin to a public propaganda campaign tour. The Olympic committee is holding one in each of the city’s 50 wards. The presentation was a big dog and pony show. It had two former Olympians, both now local college softball coaches, on the stage to describe the Olympic experience. They put on a quick power point presentation in which the committee assures the city that: there will be $22.5 billion in economic activity, 315,000 jobs created, and that the city would not pay one single dime t put on the games. It’s important to note that these numbers come from a study commissioned from the Olympic Committee itself.

The real fireworks started when the questions started. The questions were about 75-25 skeptical to supporting. The questions ranged from skeptical budgetary issues, displacement of the poor, transparency, to statements of support for how exciting it would be to have Chicago host the Olympics.

One questioner summed up the cynicism of the entire exercise. She wondered why these town halls were being held now a couple months before the bid is decided and not a year and two ago. The bid was officially kicked off in March of 2007. There was little media attention about, and the mayor even snuck in a commitment of $500 million from the city to pay for the games in 2007. (even though he continues to guarantee that the city will pay no money to host the games) The reason they’re doing these dog and pony shows now is because the bid has finally received some serious negative publicity in the last few months. First, the mayor sprung on the city the need to sign a host city contract in May which would hold the city liable for any and all expenses above and beyond that which the IOC would set aside in the beginning. Then, there was the revelation that Michael Scott, a major player in the Olympic Committee, secured a sweetheart land contract near Washington Park, where some of the events would be held. Finally, there have been a series of scandals and the debacle regarding the parking meter. As such, one could call these late scheduled town hall meetings a sort of damage control.  Continue reading…

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One response to “2016 Community Meetings Getting Uglier

  1. I have gone to three of these meetings, and there has been almost no support. Ryan was shouted down at the 47th ward meeting. I hope the IOC is paying attention to the tone of these meetings.

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