The [Wednesday] Papers
The city council will approve the mayor's Olympic financing scheme today under just the conditions he planned for all along: in the dark.
And just in time.
Because now the facts are starting to trickle out. Too little, too late, to be sure. But enough to mark the mayor as a liar, if only the media wasn't so afraid of that word. After all, he did not tell the truth. And he was asked to multiple times.
"Mayor Daley said Tuesday he knew 'at the beginning' that city tax dollars would have to guarantee Chicago's Olympic operating budget, but he didn't fess up about it because 'we're not putting any actual money up,'" the Sun-Times reports.
He's just using play money. Hope the USOC doesn't find out.
"In a stuttering response to a reporter's question, Daley said he knew 'at the beginning' of the bidding process that city money would have to be put on the table. Daley said he kept quiet - not because he wanted to get past the mayoral election - but because 'we're not putting any direct money into it.'
No, apparently the money is coming directly from McPier to the city, and then directly to the Olympics. But we'll get to that later.
"A few hours later, mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard clarified Daley's remarks. Heard said Daley knew about the demand for an Olympic guarantee 'at the beginning.' But until last week, he did not know that private market guarantees would be insufficient."
He's not lying, he's just stupid?
Nice try, Jackie.
According to a report by David Greising in today's Tribune, the city worked out an agreement in January with the Metropolitan Pier & Expostion Authority that runs McCormick Place and Navy Pier "to transfer up to $125 million from the sale of public assets to the Olympic construction effort."
Greising calls the McPier funding plan "a direct investment." McPier is a tax-assessing government agency overseen by a board named by the mayor and the governor.
McPier is just one piece of the complex, multi-layered financial package behind the city's Olympic bid - a package city officials don't want you to see. Instead, they distract easily led reporters with exciting visions of kayaking courses and party sites. And the city council? They're on a need-to-know basis, and the mayor concluded a long time ago that they don't need to know - much.
"[Pat] Ryan and other Chicago 2016 officials generally have refused to discuss details of their financial projections," Greising writes. "They cite a need for secrecy in the face of competition from Los Angeles."
Right. L.A. is just dying to steal Chicago's formula for blowing budgets through the roof delivering overdue projects.
"However, in private meetings with aldermen in advance of Wednesday's vote, Ryan has begun to reveal some details of his financial plan."
According to Greising, those (scanty) details include taking in a projected $652 million in broadcast rights and $326 million from corporate sponsorships. All told, Ryan projects $3.4 billion in revenue against $2.9 billion in expenses, for a $525 million profit.
Right. And I've got some Olympics in London I'd like to sell you.
In fact, Greising writes that "The Chicago funds are optimistic when compared to those of London's bid for the 2012 Games. London, in its bid, projected $600 million in revenue from the International Olympic Committee and another $300 million from global sponsors."
Meanwhile, the president of The Civic Federation, Lawrence Msall, as usual, "urged" full transparency. "The public has a right to know the details of how public funds are being used."
Msall hasn't, to my knowledge, withdrawn his support of the mayor, or urged the city council to reject the city's Olympic financing, or produced his own analysis, or urged a Freedom of Information request to the city for all documents related to its involvement with the quasi-private Chicago 2016 group, or the work product of the city's chief financial officer, and backed it with the will to take the city to court to get it.
It's nice to urge from the sidelines. It's another thing to do something.
Hey, give the mayor credit. Once again he has managed to outsmart all parties involved by steamrolling a secret plan through a gamed-system. And the next time he makes a ridiculous claim about taxpayer money or his culpability in some scandal, the media will once again take his word for it, despite 18 years' proof that that's never a good idea. It's certainly not journalism.
You have to wonder how long the media would have bought the mayor's line if it wasn't for Bob speaking out of turn. Chances are the plan the city council will pass today would have been even more vague than it already is, as well. Still, why not actually just ask the city council to sign a blank check? I mean, literally? A huge big blank check, like the ones they give lottery winners? It'd be a helluva lot more honest.
* The [Olympic Tax] Papers. We hate to say we told you so, but we'll be saying it for about nine more years.
* Chicago 2016 vs. Baghdad 2016. They have a better pool.
Also In Today's Reporter
The Beachwood Tip Line: Three times a latte.
Posted on March 14, 2007
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