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Goodbye IOC!

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Organization Details City and State Budget Deficits, Corruption, and History of Construction Boondoggles

CHICAGO, April 7 - Members of No Games Chicago met today at the Fairmont Hotel with six representatives of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Following a number of actions aimed at pressuring the IOC to take note of community disapproval of the bid, the 30-minute meeting occurred on the last day of the IOC's review of Chicago as potential host city.

As Lori Healy and Ron Huberman Arnold Randall of the Chicago 2016 Bid Committee silently observed, No Games Chicago discussed the poor economic situation Chicago is in as potential host city, with astronomical budget deficits on the city and state levels (facts below). In addition, the notorious and publicly embarrassing corruption at various levels of Chicago and Illinois politics were discussed, as well as the long history of the mismanagement and cost overruns related to mega-construction projects, including Millennium Park, the Block 37 "super-station," the CHA Plan for Transformation, Soldier Field, and more. No Games concluded their presentation by urging the IOC to read and consider Chicago Reader journalist Ben Joravsky's "An Open Letter to the IOC."

The IOC representatives reportedly promised to read the article, listened intently, took copious notes and were very appreciative of the information shared. Also present were two members of Housing Bronzeville.

Quick Facts:

* The overall cost of London's 2012 Games has quadrupled, from an originally projected $2.35 billion pounds to $9 billion pounds, while the construction of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Village athlete housing alone has put the entire City of Vancouver at risk of bankruptcy

* The City of Chicago has pledged $500 million towards the Games as an emergency fund, despite running an approximate $200 million deficit; $461 million GBP of a similar fund set up in London for the 2012 Games was depleted in January 2009 to cover cost overruns there.

* Despite an $11.6 billion deficit, the State of Illinois has put $250 million of taxpayer dollars on the line for the Games.



"If the economy continues to tank, the city budget could fall $200 million short by year's end, the mayor's top aide said today . . . A quarter of the way through the budget year, City Hall is short about $33 million, even after $31 million in cost-cutting, Chief of Staff Paul Volpe said . . . 'It could be upwards of $200 million (by the end of the year) just based on these first two months and how we closed out the final quarter of last year,' he said, noting that income, sales and real estate transfer taxes all were well below projections."

Source: "Bad budget news, no Mayor Daley - must be Friday."

"The Chicago Transit Authority is warning once again of service cuts and rate hikes, but the agency says they will only happen as a last resort . . . The transit agency is now facing a $155 million budget deficit, which they will plug in part with internal cuts . . .But if there is still a shortfall after that, the CTA may be forced to reduce service and increase fares."

Source: "CTA: Service Cuts, Fare Hikes A Last Resort."

"District leaders say between now and June they will lay out a series of steps to close the budget. They have some ideas, but nothing is firm just yet. They did say they would like more money from the state, and they did say there would be trimming . . . 'The projected $475 million budget deficit that Mr. Huberman has outlined today is very real, and very serious,' said Board of Education President Michael Scott."

Source: "Schools Budget Crisis: $475 Million Deficit."

"Gov. Pat Quinn is asking lawmakers to significantly hike the state's income tax as Illinois grapples with what he calls the 'greatest crisis of modern times' . . . The tax increase is necessary to close a $11.5 billion deficit and part of a broader plan to reform state government, Quinn told the General Assembly on Wednesday . . . He said Illinois also needs to limit government spending, overhaul state pension systems, repair crumbling roads and bridges and fight public corruption. 'To be direct and honest: Our state is facing its greatest crisis of modern times,' Quinn told lawmakers in formally presenting his budget. 'Pass this budget and let's begin a new era of reform, responsibility and recovery.'"

Source: "Ill. Gov faces 'greatest crisis of modern times.'"

"Mayor Daley is apologizing for corruption in his administration. He is reacting to the conviction of former Streets and Sanitation commissioner Al Sanchez, who was found guilty of trading city jobs for political favors Monday . . . Sanchez is the highest-ranking former city official to be convicted in the federal investigation into city hiring . . . It wasn't the first time Daley had faced such a situation. Donald Tomczak, his former deputy water commissioner - convicted in the Hired Truck scandal - was also accused of running a pro-Daley political army. And Robert Sorich, the mayor's former intergovernmental affairs director, is still in prison for a patronage scandal . . . In the Sanchez conviction, as in the others, the mayor would not say he knew anything. Former city clerk Jim Laski, a one-time Daley ally who did prison time in his own corruption case, told ABC7's Karen Jordan not to believe the mayor for a minute."

Source: "Daley 'sorry' about hiring abuses."

"If it isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor," Chicago FBI bureau chief Robert Grant said. "Even the most cynical agents in our office were shocked."

Source: "Fitzgerald: 'New low' in Illinois politics." Chicago Tribune, December 9, 2008.

In Chicago, civic construction delays and cost overruns are legendary. Millennium Park, the city's newest jewel downtown, came in four years behind schedule and three times over budget. In July of 2009, city officials finally admitted that a massive plan to revamp the Chicago Housing Authority originally slated to be finished by 2010 won't be completed until 2015.

In June of 2008, construction was halted on a "super-station" for planned express trains between Chicago-area airports and the Loop business district, with the Chicago Tribune reporting, "A combined $213 million has been spent on the project, yet there is not much more than a massive hole in the ground to show for it." Completing the station would cost an additional $100 million. There are no plans to do so, other than the mayor's assurance that the train lines will be open in time for the Olympics.

2. "It's huge, it's enormous, I don't know what they're complaining about," Oprah Winfrey said about Olympic protesters.

3. ""City Lucky That Oprah's Still Got Our Back: Shows civic pride with pitch to Olympic panel, first-rate studios."

- Richard Roeper, April 8, 2009

4. "Public Support Mixed On Summer Games In Chicago."


Is public support really "mixed"? According to the Tribune's own poll, 75 percent of all those surveyed said they were against the use of tax money to cover any financial shortfalls.

The Chicago bid guarantees tax money to cover financial shortfalls.


Tom Tresser from No Games Chicago asked on Chicago Tonight on Monday if Mayor Daley and Pat Ryan would put their homes up for collateral if they were so sure taxpayer guarantees wouldn't be tapped. We're awaiting their response.

5. Also on Chicago Tonight, Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, a candidate for Cook County board president, said she overcame early doubts about the Olympics by considering the benefits of Chicago being on a world stage.

Moderator Eddie Arruza pointed out that London, the host of the 2012 Summer Games, doesn't seem to be benefitting from being on the world stage. To the contrary, both London and Vancouver, host of the 2010 Winter Games, have been embarrassed on the world stage.

Preckwinkle said that London's problem is the massive infrastructure improvements they embarked upon along with hosting the Games. But isn't that what's being sold here?

Lester Munson said Chicago faced "a serious possibility of losing money" if it hosted the Games.

Preckwinkle ignored an Arruza question about the city council's lack of research into the history and financing of hosting the Games.


* Our Olympic Advice.

* Open Letter: Rock On, IOC!

* Dear IOC.


Posted on April 8, 2009

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