A few weeks back an old friend called to say he could get me $25,000 from Very Important People if I would “blog in favor of the Olympics.”
For those of you who may have been comatose in Central Waziristan for the past year or two, bringing the 2016 games to Chicago is something Mayor Daley wants more than oxygen itself.
“I am still agnostic on the Olympics,” say I.
This friend is indeed close to the mayor, but rarely actually represents him in such dealings. He is also
close to many wealthy developers.
Through the years this friend, with whom I occasionally cooperate on a political project, has tried to lure me over to the Dark Side, suggesting that this Daley or the preceding one would welcome me with open arms if only I would endorse or work for such and such a candidate. My sense always is that he is free-lancing these offers of municipal largesse rather than being a direct emissary, but
I never know for sure because I never take him up on them.
“Rose,” says this friend, “forget agnostic. You are now old enough to sell out and nobody would blame you. I’m talking about $25,000 cash, which is way more than you get for a lousy column.”
“Is this a firm offer?” ask I.
“I’ll go to those people and get back to you before you leave for Paris,” says he.
Of course I never hear back. I am apparently not as saleable a commodity as I once may have been.
It is clear, however, that the mayor and his business confederates are spending a lot of money as well as much political capital buying up the opposition–apparently even endorsing a sometimes reform
alderwoman for the presidency of the Cook County Board in exchange for her switching from anti- to pro-games.
This is one of the reasons my agnosticism has morphed to antagonism. Daley Inc. just wants
this thing too much, which is always a dangerous sign. (Whether a firm offer of that 25-large would have swayed me in the other direction is something strictly between my shrink and me.)
I admit I am not a big follower of Olympic sports, though I enjoy watching an occasional hour
of gymnastics and the Dirty Old Man inside me sometimes sneaks a peek at women’s beach volleyball.
I also love Chicago a lot, despite its political acne, and wouldn’t mind having the world see it in a new light. Millennium Park, for example, is so wonderful I can almost forgive Daley his past sins.
But what I see more and more is the old non-Olympic game of Chicago-style political scam. Daley and his business crowd are in this for more than civic glory.
More like fun and profit at taxpayer expense, desecration of parklands and a stiff-arm to minority communities. (Most minority leadership, however, has been bought.)
Building the necessary infrastructure, housing and sports facilities–in effect one of Chicago’s largest-ever public works projects–will be a
fiscal Niagara for the development and hospitality crowd.
Why do you think they’re so eager to put up the front money?
One look at the planning map also shows the whole thing resembles several past boondoggles designed have the city pay for infrastructure along the south lakefront and stymie expanding black communities; the World’s Fair, rejected by Harold Washington, was one. All of them were part of what we used to call “the master plan.”
Here they go again.
Why do you suppose the master builders won’t make all their records and proceedings public?
Would they show that private funding will not cover the multibillion-dollar deficits the games are sure to bring?
Daley says the city’s financial commitment will be limited, but he won’t permit a City Council ordinance to cap the amount of tax money we taxpayers will
have to cover. He’s been caught in several little fibs
about exactly what long-term fiscal commitments he made to the International Olympic Committee.
Would it be too paranoid to suggest that Daley might have much more than personal grandeur at stake here?
He will not be mayor forever-maybe not after 2011, let alone 2015. Could this be a little retirement planning? Could all those fat-cats he will be
enriching (and those already enriched) perhaps return the favor once he is out of office with all sorts of sinecures, consulting contracts and other comforts of old age?
Could this be an Olympian IRA–the Chicago way?
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