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Oct 1 / Elizabeth DiNovella

Say No to Chicago Olympics

President Barack Obama is traveling to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics. If the International Olympic Committee has any sense, it will resist his charms (and Oprah’s) and give the games to another city.

(John Smierciak, AP / September 29, 2009)

A Chicago police officer, left, scuffles with opponents of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics who were trying to damage an Olympic symbol being put up in Daley Plaza in Chicago, on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009.

The Olympics could be a financial disaster for the city. The range of taxpayer-linked costs runs in excess of $2.1 billion, reports the Chicago Tribune. The bid committee says much of the costs would be paid by federal tax dollars, but ultimately Chicago “taxpayers would be on the hook for any huge cost overruns.”

Huge cost overruns are a way of life for city projects. Just look at Millennium Park. The park, which is a hit locally and internationally, opened four years behind schedule. “Originally estimated to cost $150 million when plans were unveiled in 1998, the price tag ballooned to about $490 million by the time it opened in 2005,” the Tribune reported in March 2007. “Private donors covered roughly $220 million of the total, the city the remainder.”

Back then, the IOC was concerned about budgets gone wild. But now its members are going wild over Obama and Oprah in Copenhagen.

Then there’s the pesky matter of corruption, another way of life for the city. The Daley administration has been hounded by allegations of corruption for years. The Mayor has been able to rise above the fray, but some of his lieutenants are in prison. Federal investigators have found contracting irregularities and “massive fraud” in hiring practices.

Daley presides over a City Hall where people on the payroll have been accused of a dazzling displays of depravity–from nepotism to heroin dealing. All those juicy union contracts and land deals will be too much for some to resist.

Let’s hope the IOC is able to resist Obama’s overtures.

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