The [Thursday] Papers
By Steve Rhodes
BREAKING: Blago indictment to come today.
The [Thursday] Papers
"And Tuesday, about 60 people joined Mayor Daley and Chicago 2016 CEO Pat Ryan to unveil a poll of Chicago area residents showing 78 percent favor bringing the 2016 Summer Olympics here - up a percentage point from a February poll," the Sun-Times reports.
Did you hear that everyone? Up a full percentage point!
Of course, this is a magic poll with no margin of error.
And the fact that the poll was conducted by Chicago 2016 doesn't mean it's tainted - even though a Tribune poll found that "75 percent of all those surveyed said they were against the use of tax money to cover any financial shortfalls."
The IOC, however, requires just such a guarantee.
But if we want to take that poll at face value - something we were taught in Journalism 101 not to do - we might look at it another way: Despite Chicago 2016's massive public relations campaign and virtual control of the message distributed through our daily newspapers and local TV stations, support for the Olympic bid hasn't budged.
Sure, that's not a lot of room for improvement when you're at 78 percent, but how much effort has been expended to keep that number from falling?
The Tribune, too, falls for the alleged poll uptick. "Public support has inched up 1 percentage point in recent months," the paper says - again ignoring its own poll in favor of the tray of sweets Chicago 2016 hands them.
And oh is that tray filled with sweets! We can just eat 'em up and slip into a sugar coma instead of actually thinking for ourselves! (I'll say "inched" - if this was over "recent months" that number must have been moving up by tenths of tenths of tenths of a percentage point daily!)
"With a price tag of about $4.8 billion, the Games could generate $13.7 billion in 'economic activity' for Chicago alone, according to a study commissioned by . . . Chicago 2016." (ellipses mine; I couldn't resist.)
I guess the bankruptcy courts don't allow newspapers to present views - some might say "facts" - that conflict with official proclamations.
Or maybe the Sun-Times just couldn't afford to call, say, Allen Sanderson, the reknown University of Chicago sports economist.
Hint to Sun-Times: Like your online edition, Google is free.
"There is so much boosterism that the overwhelming tendency is to vastly overstate the benefits and vastly understate the costs," Sanderson - who studies such things for a living - warned us two years ago in the Wall Street Journal
It's just too bad that boosterism is coming from the press - the institution that is supposed to think critically about official claims and the use of taxpayer dollars.
And it can't really be the bankruptcies of the paper that are holding them back. After all, the also-in-bankruptcy Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky continues to find time to, you know, actually study the numbers and the historical perspective of past Games.
"I'm here to tell you some things about Chicago you'll never hear from Mayor Daley, who's acting like a used-car salesman, trying to sell you an old beater without letting you look under the hood," Joravsky writes in an open letter to the IOC today.
Of course, local reporters besides Joravsky haven't shown much interest in looking under the hood. They're too busy being entranced by the sparkly prototype.
And can we please retire all references to making no little plans? I'm shocked - shocked - to see this ridiculous phrase wheeled out again.
"If Daniel Burnham were alive today, he'd be proud of his hometown," the Sun-Times editorial page claims this morning. "On the centennial of his sweeping 1909 Plan of Chicago, his city is again making 'no little plans'."
Ugh and a half.
"If done right, the Olympics and its afterglow would mean new jobs, new tourists, extra tax revenue and new housing, including affordable housing units, for Chicago and its residents," the Sun-Times says.
And would holding the Games here also cure cancer?
"[A] well-run Games could generate new tax dollars to help improve the very services every Chicagoan needs and deserves."
But all evidence is to the contrary - evidence I'm sure the Sun-Times's three-person editorial board failed to confront Ryan with on his recent visit there.
"Daniel Burnham exhorted us to 'make no little plans'," Sanderson wrote last fall in Chicago Life. "The admonishment not to make huge, unwise ones is equally applicable. In the past half-century, the ex ante promises of most Olympic Games far surpass the ex post reality."
* Dear IOC: Mayor Daley Is Out Of Control.
* Dear IOC: Don't Pick Us.
Apparently it's okay for mayor and his pals to squander our money, but not Todd Stroger.
The Daley Show
* Just days after we glimpsed the inner workings of the now-defunct Hispanic Democratic Organization and rampant cronyism in City Hall as laid out in the trial - and conviction - of former Streets and San Commissioner Al Sanchez, the city has awarded a lucrative contract that suggests business is indeed as usual in the Daley administration.
* It's harder to override a veto by the president of the Cook County Board than it is to override a veto by the president of the United States.
Tribune Fools' Day
Do It Like the Sox Do!
Down For The Countess
The Beachwood Tip Line: In and out.
Posted on April 2, 2009
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