After insisting for months that Chicago taxpayers wouldn't be on the hook for more than $500 million in cost overruns should the city land the 2016 Olympics, Mayor Daley reneged on this promise in June when he agreed to sign a blanket financial guarantee at the urging of ...
After insisting for months that Chicago taxpayers wouldn't be on the hook for more than $500 million in cost overruns should the city land the 2016 Olympics, Mayor Daley reneged on this promise in June when he agreed to sign a blanket financial guarantee at the urging of the International Olympic Committee. The flip-flop galvanized longtime opponents of the city's bid and also drew criticism from some unlikely sources, including Tribune business columnist David Greising who lambasted Daley in a June 19 column. "The same sort of hubris has caught up with other Olympic cities that lived to regret the cost," Griesing wrote.
In the months since, Greising has clearly continued to think hard about whether taxpayers can trust Daley -- and his secretive, closed-door management style -- with such a massive undertaking. In his column today, he offers city officials and the Chicago 2016 bid committee a way to build confidence among the public:
If Chicago's taxpayers are to offer an indispensable guarantee, they should get more than the world's biggest swim and track meet. They should get, in fact, a tool that will provide a close-up view into the wheeling, the dealing, the high jinks and palm greasing that will make the 2016 Games uniquely Chicago [...]
In other words, the City Council should insist -- and Chicago 2016 should agree -- that the organizing committee become subject to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act [...]
Chicago 2016's demand that it needs an unlimited financial guarantee, not to mention $500 million from the city and $250 million from the state, makes organizing a Chicago Olympics a very public matter [...]
Openness should be the price of putting taxpayers on the hook for the 2016 Games.
Greising's call comes at an important time. Indeed, Chicago 2016 representatives are already rebuffing the need for transparency.
On a related note, check back tomorrow for our dispatch from a meeting tonight between Chicago 2016 officials and several South Side communities.