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The [Thursday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

Welcome, Sochi!

You're in the club.


Ed Sherman: "Traffic shouldn't snarl Olympic fever."

The only traffic we're worried about is the congestion in our wallets from so many people digging in there at the same time.


Greg Hinz: "You know that electronic parking meter system we've been carping about in Chicago? Well, beautiful Copenhagen - which, despite its charming medieval center, overall is as sleek and modern and smoothly functioning as its furniture - has the same system in place. Right down the street from my hotel you pay at a box with plastic, just like in Chicago."

Except theirs work.

And weren't installed via a backroom deal that soaked the taxpayers. It's not the boxes making people mad, Greg. It's the shadowy, greedy incompetence behind them.

(See Dan L.'s comment on this post. Also, inspired by Don B.: What about the cost of adding all those federal prosecutors and all those investigations into Olympic malfeasance we'll have to have? Trials cost millions.)

Ald. Ginger Rugai: "I am convinced that it is not a risk for us."

Then why are we spending so much money on all those insurance policies?

Rhodes: If the city has to transform its image after 20 years of Daley, what does that say?

Beachwood reader: How come nobody's reporting the town where the Chicago delegation is staying? Because it's funny.

Michelle Obama: Talking about what the Games would mean for kids living in poverty: "I just think, wouldn't it be great if that kind of spirit was happening right down the street in our community? Just think of that. Kids and communities across the city, in Austin, kids who grew up in Cabrini, kids who live so far from the city. Now just imagine if all all of that was happening right in their own backyard. That's what I think about."

Okay, I'm imagining.

Poor kids. All that money for a two-week party and their textbooks still have Ronald Reagan as president.

Sun-Times Headline: "6 charged in damage to Olympic banner."

But cops still haven't caught the vandals who broke into Meigs Field six years ago and carved up the runway.

Beachwood Terry: I don't care for the Olympics wherever they are held. Many of the sports are two-bit hobbies; many of the amateurs are shams; in the team sports, why do I want to see the same professional players I see now, just divided up by country instead of franchise? And the whole 'Olympic Movement' grandiosity and corrupt twits who peddle it make me ill."

Michelle Obama: "I know Mayor Daley, and he's going to make sure that these games go off without a hitch . . . It's not called the 'City That Works' for nothing."

Michelle Obama, reformer.

Rhodes: Is there any doubt that if Chicago wins the Games, cheers will go up in the city's newsrooms and reporters will exchange high-fives?

Richard M. Daley: "Mr. Daley, who didn't attend the meetings, has responded to questions about the Games' risks by asking rhetorically: If the Olympics are such a bum deal, why are so many cities vying for the 2016 Games?"

"Most American cities chose not to bid on the 2016 summer Olympics and with good reason," Steve Bartin writes at newgeography. "With the exception of the 1984 Los Angeles games, the Olympics has proved a big time money loser in city after city. More often than not, it has been staged more for the prestige - think of Berlin in 1936 or China in 2008 - it brings to regimes, particularly autocratic ones.

"In Chicago, prestige is important, but graft is the real king. In Chicago, one of the most corrupt big cities, the Olympics represents, more than anything, a grand chance for a giant heist."

The Economist: "But is staging the Olympics such a great prize? The pluses may seem obvious. Big building projects will employ lots of people who will spend their wages in the rest of the economy. Railways and roads will be built that might otherwise have stayed on the drawing board for years. Visitors will come from far and wide, either for the games or as tourists afterwards. That all sounds especially alluring in a recession. Chicago's organisers paid for a study that reckons on a $22.5 billion boost for the Illinois economy (more than $1,700 per person) and 315,000 'job years.' Allen Sanderson, of the University of Chicago, calls that 'ludicrous.'

"The pro-Olympics lobby tends to downplay the disadvantages. Building in the host city may push up wages and prices and crowd out investment elsewhere. Hurrying up building projects raises costs. What suits the games may not be best for the city afterwards. Not every visitor during the games is an extra one; tourists may time long-wished-for trips to watch the sport. Crowds or inflated hotel prices may deter others from coming."

Rhodes: Obama's Real Olympic Risk.

Michelle Obama: We're Midwestern folks, and there's a bit of Southern hospitality that comes along with that place. We know how to treat our visitors with respect and with open arms."

We just don't treat the folks who live here very well.

Mary Schmich: "[W]e shouldn't let our cynicism, however realistic when applied to certain aspects of city life, corrupt our view of the Olympic possibilities."

Certain aspects like the city's record with big projects?

Rhodes: Funny how we're told to be "realistic" when it comes to corruption, poverty, health care . . . but when it comes to the pet projects of elites, we're patted on the head and told to dream . . .

Kristen McQueary: "I'm tired of the whiners - the people who don't want Chicago to host the games; who relish the opportunity to quarterback through anonymous blog postings; who lament Chicago's problems without doing a single thing to make them better; who complain about their tax dollars spent on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase Chicago while they blow $100 a week on fancy coffee and restaurant tabs; who drop chump change into the Sunday church offering and consider their community service completed; who can't see beyond their own tiny space on earth to appreciate the honor of hosting the world, right here in Chicago."

The "whiners" are the only evidence of democracy in the city, willing to take on an autocratic mayor and his corrupt power structure to fight for a city built on justice, compassion and the rule of law instead of clout, ego and greed. They also include the very few journalists who know how to do their job instead of parochial cheerleaders easily gulled by a slick PR apparatus. And I'm sure you drop far more dough at Starbucks, Kristen, than they do. I'll shut up now, and just let the Richard M. Daleys and Pat Ryans of the world run roughshod over core journalistic values like truth, facts, honesty, transparency and accountability.


Hey facts, quit whining!

Ben Joravsky: "I guess our corporate and civic bigwigs have decided it's in their best interest to go along to get along. This is very much a one-man town - Mayor Daley calls the shots. Most players here know that if they want anything they have to go through him. As several told me on the condition that I not use their names (they're not eager to face the mayor's wrath for talking), they see their Olympic support as either payback for things they got in the past or a down payment on things they hope to get in the future. Many of the most generous contributors to the Olympic cause are either city contractors or leaders of institutions who count on city funding to operate."

So beneath the surface our local bigwigs are just a bunch of whiners too.

Rhodes: The Olympic Blame Game.

CTA Tattler: "I don't always trust Mayor Daley, but I do believe him when he says the citizens of Chicago won't have to pay one dime of any potential cost overruns, because I don't think there will be any."

I don't even know you anymore, Tattler.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Whiners welcome.


Posted on October 1, 2009

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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