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Dear Manny Flores

By Matt Farmer

Dear Alderman Flores:

I'm not a resident of the First Ward; I live in Alderman Stone's ward. As a concerned Chicago taxpayer, I've done my best to follow the ongoing debate concerning Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics. I watched with interest when you proposed an ordinance capping taxpayer risk at $500 million. I was disheartened to learn that you no longer support such a cap, and I do understand your stated reason for that decision. I do not write today to ask you to revisit that decision. I write to encourage you to seek maximum transparency for all of the Chicago 2016 team's activities, should our city be awarded the Summer Games.

I generally agree with the "principles" of "transparency and accountability" you set out in your August 2 Op-Ed piece in the Tribune, but I urge you to augment your list by making the 2016 Bid Committee and (its soon-to-be alter ego) the Chicago Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The Tribune's David Greising explained eloquently in two columns this week why we taxpayers need such protection:

* "Public On Hook Deserves Look Into Chicago's Olympic Bid"

* "Time To Hold 2016 Olympics Committee's Feet To Flame On Open Records"


At a Chicago 2016 community meeting at Wright College (not my community, but Alderman Stone did not schedule such a meeting in the 50th Ward), I asked Lori Healey, the mayor's former chief of staff, to explain to the crowd why a FOIA requirement would be a "bad idea."

I found her answer - which cited the IOC's need to maintain proprietary information - wholly non-persuasive.

I urged three of your colleagues who attended the meeting (Ald. Allen, Ald. Levar, and Ald. Doherty) to support such a measure, but from their reactions I may as well have been asking Sarah Palin to support restrictions on firearms.

This city needs leaders, Alderman Flores. The history and scope of public corruption in Chicago is staggering, and it is a national disgrace. Ms. Healey and company tell us they will be open and transparent, but the respective political pedigrees of the folks in charge of Chicago 2016 give me (and many others) pause.

In closing, I'll ask you what I asked Ms. Healey: tell me why it's a bad idea to subject Chicago's 2016 committees (whatever they ultimately call themselves) to the Freedom of Information Act. As of now, $500 million of Chicago taxpayer money remains on the hook for this adventure - and that's enough of a hook for you to subject those committees to FOIA requirements.

I've copied the offices of some of your more progressive colleagues on this message with the hope that they, too, push for transparency. Reaction, rather than action, was the order of the day for the City Council when it came to Chicago's parking meter mess. Please learn from the past and get out in front on the issue of 2016 transparency. Put some teeth in the disclosure and reporting requirements you propose. Our city is damn near broke and our track record for good government is laughable.

Thanks for your time. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

Sincerely,

Matt Farmer

-

Also from Matt Farmer:
* Good King Rich



Permalink

Posted on August 17, 2009


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