the International Olympic Committee so stupid that it is willing to
accept the word of a mayor of a near-bankrupt city that it will cover
any of the Games' huge losses if it comes to Chicago?
Is the committee stupid enough to believe that Daley is a king and
can commit Chicago to paying hundreds of millions of dollars all by
Of all the stupid things that the committee has done to the Games
(such as cheapening them by letting in professional athletes), this has
to rank right up there with the worst. Daley, in a reversal, said he
now will sign the standard contract that puts Chicago (and, practically
speaking) Illinois on the hook for $500 million or more if the 2016
Games here are a bust.
Not to worry, Daley still insists, the private group that is pushing
the games will take out extra insurance to cover that
half-billion-dollars if something goes wrong. To which I say: then let
the local 2016 committee, headed by Patrick Ryan, sign the damn thing,
and let those who are pushing this enterprise on Chicago pledge their
own personal fortunes to the Games' success. After all, a good part of
their enthusiasm is the dollar signs ringing up in their eyes over the
prospects of the money that the Games will bring to their businesses.
I don't recall anyone asking the taxpayers if they want to sign on
to this kind of obligation, when the mayor already is mining every
possible tax, talking about service cutbacks and laying off hundreds of
employees. It's all right to be far-sighted by proposing these kinds of
big plans, but they ought to be (1) certifiably realistic, (2) securely
and transparently funded and (3) widely supported by the public. Oh,
and (4) they must offer a reasonable expectation that the cost and
inconvenience of holding the Olympics are substantially less than the
benefits that will accrue to the city and state.
Daley's proposal hasn't met even one of these tests, and that's
before he, in a king-like way, offered the Chicago treasury as a lure
for the Games. Daley and his minions, of course "had" to commit, or the
Games would have been lost to one of the three finalist cities that
have national backing.
Then let the Games go elsewhere.
President Barack Obama has pledged his "full support" for his
hometown of Chicago to host the Games, but with his now-routine
trillion-dollar raids on the U.S. Treasury, it's doubtful that his
pledge is nothing more than words. What the committee will have is a
document with Daley's signature obligating the city to full financial
responsibility for a Chicago 2016 Summer Games. The contract requires
the city and the Olympic organizing committee to assume unlimited
financial liability for the "planning, organization and staging of the
The Olympic committee, if it has any sense, will require something
more than His Majesty's signature. In a democracy, there's usually a
requirement for legislative approval of some sort for a commitment of
money this large. Sure, Daley, when he comes back from kissing up to
the Olympic committee, will instruct the servile City Council to back
his play with some sort of cockamamie funding scheme that will have all
the appearances of not costing taxpayers anything.
But that will be interesting to watch. Will the aldermen be willing
to embarrass themselves again after "deliberating" only moments before
"approving" Daley's controversial parking meter scheme? How long will
they willingly suit up in the duds of fools and court jesters? Most of
them probably would cave before His Majesty, seeing as how most of them
were originally appointed by Daley, and wouldn't risk his
administration withholding city services from their wards in
retaliation for their independence.
No lawyer I, but without some firmer contract, executed according to
reasonable legal standards, wouldn't the Olympic committee have some
serious problems if the Games here tanked and the city couldn't make up
the difference? Even before the Games, wouldn't the city and the
committee find themselves entangled in a costly and extended citizen's
suit arguing that the contract wasn't properly executed? No doubt,
Daley would figure that such a lawsuit wouldn't be a problem in a court
system that he and his cronies control.
And so it goes.
Originally, I was somewhat neutral about the project in the naïve
hope that perhaps it could be accomplished without the usual Chicago
shenanigans and that it might be a good thing for the city. Silly me.
The funding and beneficiaries of this endeavor, opaque from the
beginning, are becoming increasing cloudy and more prone to legitimate
questions and concerns. Questions that I'm sure that Daley, as is his
practice, will ignore.
This commentary also appeared in the Chicago Daily Observer