PI Original Angela Caputo Friday March 27th, 2009, 5:56pm

Olympic "Memorandum" Falls Short, Activists Plan IOC Protest

Earlier today, we reported
that recent stories suggesting that city officials and South Side activists had agreed on a community benefits agreement (CBA) that would guarantee
jobs and affordable housing as part of the potential 2016 Olympics bonanza were a bit ...

Earlier today, we reported that recent stories suggesting that city officials and South Side activists had agreed on a community benefits agreement (CBA) that would guarantee jobs and affordable housing as part of the potential 2016 Olympics bonanza were a bit premature. Knowing that the aldermen pushing the proposal were facing pressure from "higher up," Jay Travis of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) pointed out that the agreement touted yesterday was not legally binding and expressed concern that it might stay that way.

It looks like she was right.  And as a result, her organization is gearing up to protest during the International Olympic Committee's upcoming visit.

What came out of the Chicago City Council Finance Committee today is an ordinance that amounts to an aldermanic nod of support for the "memoradum of understanding" signed by both Chicago 2016 and the advisory community outreach committee yesterday.  Here's the relevant language approved by the committee:

The Mayor and members of the City council do hereby express the City of Chicago's support for Chicago 2016's execution of the Memorandum and the spirit and intent of the community-based initiatives and goals set forth therein. 

The Reader's Ben Joravsky sums up the obvious hole in the underlying memorandum:

The deal was ostensibly struck between Chicago 2016, the organization Mayor Daley put together to oversee the games, and the Outreach Advisory Council, a group put together by Chicago 2016. Think of it as Mayor Daley negotiating with himself.

The problem, of course, is enforcement. Because the city is not a party to the agreement, there is growing skepticism about whether Mayor Daley would actually take the Olympic committee to task if they tried to skirt the requirements down the road.

Now KOCO is planning to add their name to the list of protests planned during the IOC's visit to the city late next week. "We played by the rules. We took our ideas to our officials and tried to negotiate," Travis tells us. "Until the city puts forth the effort to protect its neighborhoods, we're going to be busy."

While the terms of the agreement obviously fall short of what activists have been pushing for, it's worth pointing out that there are some real opportunities here that were made possible because of the campaign led by the Communities for an Equitable Olympics (CEO 2016) coalition, with help at the negotiating table from Alds. Toni Preckwinkle (4th Ward) and Pat Dowell (3rd Ward).

Under the agreement, affordable housing has been upped to 30 percent. Ten percent of construction hours will be set aside for local apprentices.  And Chicago 2016 says that it will negotiate in good faith with unions representing service workers. Also encouraging is a pledge to apply transparency in reporting on contracts, minority business contracts, and jobs -- a provision similar to the long overdue TIF sunshine ordinance

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