Monthly Archives: April 2009

High School Students Ask More Questions Than Chicago’s So-Called Watch Dog Groups

A member of the No Games Chicago Coalition visited a public high school history class on Thursday, April 30. The students were studying the Olympic bid process. They had one large, over-arching question:

“What will be the impact of the Olympic Games on the poor, working class and people of color?”

Here is the complete list of questions they asked. These are EXACTLY the sorts of questions that the 2016 Committee has ducked. These are the questions our so-called civic watchdog groups SHOULD HAVE been asking.

Thank you to the students of the history classes from the north side public school for putting these questions together. No Games will not disclose the name of the school or your teacher unless you give us permission.

CHICAGO PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WANT TO KNOW:

  • Do you think the Olympics will benefit more than just the upper, wealthy class?
  • According to the proposal, at what point is Chicago going to see the profits from the Olympics?
  • How might the Olympics affect prices and goods and services in Chicago?
  • Will the Olympics provide jobs for Chicagoans? For who and for how long?
  • How does the city plan to pay for the Olympics without uses public dollars?
  • What do you think about Obama’s support for the Chicago Olympic bid?
  • How do you think the Olympics will affect housing costs in the city? What will happen to the Olympic village housing after the Olympics? How will it affect affordable housing access in Chicago?
  • What neighborhoods will be most affected by the Olympics and how?
  • How will the Olympic facilities be used after the Olympics are finished?
  • How will the Olympics affect taxes for Chicagoans
  • Who are the private financial backers that the city is suppose to have lined up to back the Olympics?
  • What will be the total cost of bring the Olympics to Chicago?
  • Will the Olympics have an affect on public transportation in Chicago? How will all the extra people in the city be transported around the city?
  • What can people do if they want the mayor and Chicago 2016 to know that they don’t want the Olympics?
  • Can you point us to any important resources (Internet, organizations, databases, etc.) that could help us with our research about the affects the Olympics might have on Chicago?
  • Why do you think Washington Park has been chosen as a central site for the Olympics?
  • What do you think the purpose / motivation is for bringing the Olympics to Chicago?
  • Can you tell us more about your own background and how that has affected your opinions on the Chicago Olympic bid? Where are you from? Where do you work? Etc.
  • Does race (Black, white, Latino, etc.) play a role in the politics of this Olympic bid?
  • We’ve heard some about the affects the Olympics might have on historically Black neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side… but what about the affects they might have on Latinos in the city?
  • What other important areas could this kind of money be spent that would be a greater benefit to Chicago, specifically low-income, working class and people of color in Chicago?
  • What sort of actions have you and nogameschicago taken? In what ways have these actions been effective?
  • What businesses and corporations are behind this Olympic bid? How do they stand to gain from it?
  • How does the Chicago bid seem to currently compare to the other cities that are competing for the 2016 games?
  • How does the Olympic plan relate to the South Side Bud Billiken parade?

Don’t these students deserve to have their questions answered?

London Olympic Excesses a Preview of Things to Come

Simon Jenkins writes in the London Guardian, ” Any fool can raise a tax. But it takes a gutless one to splurge it on this stuff. Austerity vanishes when it comes to the prestige projects saddled on Britain. Ministers fear the IOC more than the IMF.”  He writes at the witless and seemingly endless river of money being wasted on the London games…

London yesterday witnessed a surreal scene. The panjandrums of the International Olympic Committee came to town to congratulate Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling on spending so much money. The two of them were well up to the mark, on course to blow the £9bn required for the committee’s 2012 Stratford extravaganza. Members were said to be mightily pleased with their ­humble servants.

The IOC is still demanding that London “build in” obsolescence to its facilities, ensuring that buildings are so located and designed as to shriek “Olympics” and be useless for anything else. The Athens site is gathering weeds, and Beijing’s stupendous stadium has yet to find another purpose.

The biggest scam is the proclaimed need for an “Olympic village”, with detailed specifications that require costly conversion for re-use when the games are over. In Barcelona this cost was said to be more than that of building the village in the first place.

There is clearly a dark side to hosting the Olympics. Wo is telling that story? Will some organization with a staff, office and a telephone PLEASE do the research needed to give the citizens of Chicago the information we at No Games have come across?

So-Called “Green Mayor” Moves to Raze Historic Hospital Campus

Lynn Becker writes in the April 23rd Chicago Reader that the bulldozers are coming to the Michael Reese Hospital campus.

On June 4, Mayor Daley will be recognized by the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., as one of their “Visionaries in Sustainability” for his “long dedication to a sustainable urban environment.” Yet within a month, if his administration has its way, bulldozers could be moving in to demolish and discard at least 28 of the 29 buildings on the former campus of Michael Reese Hospital. Last week the city opened the bidding process for the job.

rush_razeThe Michael Reese complex includes 1.6 million square feet of building space, representing over a million barrels of crude oil, the primary product from which gasoline is distilled. Demolishing Michael Reese will create more than 120,000 tons of debris, enough to fill nearly 800 train boxcars that together would take up seven miles of track. Even if some of the debris is recycled, as required by city law, the Michael Reese tear-down plan is clearly adding to a problem: of the estimated 164 million tons of building-related waste generated nationwide each year, 53 percent comes from demolition, according to the U.S. EPA.

Once all Michael Reese is rubble, expensively smashed and carted away, then the mayor is expecting to sell off the site to a developer willing to commit $1.1 billion to construct more buildings that can house the 15,000 athletes participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics, the sugar plum that ate Daley’s brain.

Housing that many people would take much more space than the Michael Reese buildings have to offer, but based on the report cited by Moe, just replacing Reese’s current 1.6 million square feet with new construction would release as much carbon into the atmosphere as a car driving 89,600,000 miles. At 20 miles a gallon, that’s the equivalent of another 200,000 barrels of crude. And, according to Moe, even if 40 percent of the construction materials are recycled and energy efficiency is maximized, it will take 65 years for a new building to recover the embodied energy lost in a tear-down.

Oh well. So much for claims of being “green.” And then there’s the matter of ripping up priceless public land to build $900 million of sports facilities, many of which will then be torn down. You know what would be REALLY green? How about spending public money to EXPAND our park system and create MORE green space in neighborhoods that sorely lack parks and playgrounds?

Mayor Orders Olympic Branding Police to Monitor Entire City

Not only has the city and pledged hundreds of millions to the games, not only are we  promising to destroy priceless public parks and turn acres of land and lakefront over to a private organization, not only are we writing a blank check for security for the games, not only have we spent $86 million we don’t have to buy a hospital – but – we have also pledged to create a “Brand Protection Commission” to monitor all things in the city of Chicago to ensure that the IOC is not ripped off.

This is not fiction. This is an Executive Order signed by Mayor Daley:

WHEREAS, in the City of Chicago Olympic Approvals Ordinance, enacted by an act of the City of Chicago City Council on January 13, 2009, the City Council authorized the Mayor to appoint members to an Olympic Brand Protection Commission to assist the Chicago Organizing Committee for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games (hereafter “CHICOG”) in protecting the Olympic and Paralympic marks and preventing ambush marketing at the 2016 Games;

Develop and recommend to the City Council supplemental legislation in order to address brand protection and ambush marketing during the Games Period, including legislation to address street vending, ticket scalping, signage, zoning, traffic and parking and to provide supplemental penalties for violations of existing legislation (including injunctive relief and/or fines), to be presented to the City Council for passage no later than January 1,2014.

We don’t want to be monitored by a Brand Prtoection Commission. They would probably sue us to take down this site.  Say “NO!” to the 2016 Olympic bid and tell the Mayor to monitor the corruption, incompetence, rip offs, self-dealing, privatizations and service cuts that are plaguing this great city. Download the Executive Order.

Chicago Broke But Finds $86 Million to Buy Hospital and Tear It Down

The New York Times reports today that although the city is $300 million in the red, it is proceeding with plans to purchase the Michael Reese Hospital site and tear it down for the Olympic Village.

Just weeks after inspectors with the International Olympic Committee visited here as part of a bid for the 2016 Games, city officials appeared to be moving ahead with a deal to pay $86 million for a hospital campus that they hope to convert into the Olympic Village.

Last week, the city put out a preliminary request for bids from demolition contractors to tear down and clean up the 29 buildings on the 40-acre site of Michael Reese Hospital. The city said plans to buy the property and buildings from Medline Industries should be completed by late June.

Don’t we need MORE access to health care, not LESS? Come on, Chicago – wake up. Say “NO!” to the 2016 Olympic bid.

Defender Reports IOC Listening to 2016 Protesters

Wendell Hutson writes in Wednesday’s Chicago Defender that the IOC Evaluation Commission has takens note of No Games’s objections to holding the 2016 Olympics in Chicago.

After meeting with protest groups while visiting Chicago last week, members of the International Olympic Committee’s Evaluation Commission said they are concerned about possible displacement should Chicago win the 2016 summer Games.

Several Chicago protest groups voiced their concerns about displacement during the IOC’s visit including No Games Chicago, which met with the evaluation group.

“We met for 15 minutes with the IOC and told them about the number of projects here that ran past deadline and its budget,” said Willie J.R. Fleming, a co-organizer for No Games Chicago. “Look at the redevelopment of public housing by the CHA and Millennium Park. No Games is not anti-Olympic, but we are for accountability.”

Gilbert Felli, an IOC member, said after meeting with No Games Chicago and Housing Bronzeville, another community organization that is concerned about displacement, it now plans to wait and see how Chicago 2016 will address displacement concerns.

“This organization (No Games Chicago) is very concerned about displacement from the Olympics, which is always a concern with residents,” said Felli. “It’s always difficult to build housing for the Olympics and not displace anyone, and they (Chicago 2016) need to address this issue.”

Thanks to J.R. and Bob Quellos, a No Games co-founder who also met with the IOC members, as well as all the No games members who worked on the rally, the action at the Fairmount and all the other outreach efforts. Our voice was heard. Despite the biggest PR blitz in memory from the 2016 Committee. we succeded in raising serious questions about the validity of the Olympic bid.


Tribune Reports Olympic Claims of Benefit Just Another Soap Bubble

Steve Chapman reports online the results of a recent economic study by scholars from the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. These authors confirm what No Games has said from the beginning, namely that grandiose claims of economic benefits from producing the Olympics is just another soap bubble manufactured by the 2016 Committee and blown at the tax payers of Chicago.  Only this one has burst.

Supporters of the Chicago 2016 Olympics bid claim the games would be a big economic boost–both in tourism during and after the actual games and through the construction and other preparations that would take place in the next seven years. What they don’t publicize is that most economists who have looked at such events say we shouldn’t believe the hype. A new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research reconfirms that conclusion.

Andrew Rose of the Haas School of Business Administration at the University of California, Berkeley and Mark Spiegel of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco review the studies and report: “The costs of holding such events seem considerable. Further, any enduring benefits derive mostly from infrastructure investments that the host city could choose to make independently of the games.”

They go on: “Much of the spending on the event by local citizens is a substitute from a different leisure activity or consumption good, rather than true additional spending. Moreover, the projects associated with the games typically seem to be white elephants, such as poorly-used sporting facilities associated with idiosyncratic Olympic sports, or hotels and transportation infrastructure built to accommodate a one-time peak demand of just three weeks.”

They document one odd, surprising benefit: Countries that host the Olympics see their exports rise substantially. But countries that merely bid unsuccessfully for the games get the same boost.

In Chicago, we can assume, some people favored by City Hall will make a lot of money off the deal. But the rest of us have about as much chance of realizing an economic benefit as we do of winning the pole vault.

Come on, Chicago, wise up. Say “NO!” to the 2016 bid. Visit our TAKE ACTION page and take some action.