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Game On!

By Kevin Robinson in News on Mar 14, 2007 1:50PM

2007_3_meigs_field.jpgWe here at Chicagoist haven't been shy about our skepticism of bringing the Olympics to Chicago. So we weren't too shocked to see, less than two weeks after Mayor Daley coasted to re-election, that the US Olympic Committee wanted the city to have "some skin in the game," committing the city (and therefore taxpayers) to guarantee the games to the tune of half a billion dollars.

On Monday what's left of the city council took the initial steps to approve the mayor's plans to bring the 2016 Summer Games to Chicago. Over the protests of some aldermen who say they have been shut out of the planning process, the council's Finance Committee unanimously approved the plan, sending it to the full council for a vote today. In particular, aldermen representing predominantly African-American wards wondered how the games would impact residents of their ward. "Right now the face of the Olympics is an elite white man's rich millionaire kind of party club, and that's what's being portrayed on the media," Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) told the Chicago Tribune. Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th), arguably one of the smartest and most independent members of the council, expressed concern over how the Olympic Village would end up affecting her ward, where it will be built. She told the Chicago 2016 committee that she is concerned that the village, which will be sold as mixed-income housing after the games, seems isolated from the rest of the neighborhood, and urged the Chicago 2016 committee to integrate it into the neighborhood. Even Tom Allen (38), usually a Daley ally, admitted that aldermen "act like we know what the heck we're voting on, and we really don't." As if proving this point to the rest of us, the Tribune ran a headline story this morning exposing that "part of Chicago's Olympic plan calls for the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, a government entity, to transfer up to $125 million from the sale of public assets to the Olympic construction effort."

Given Daley's inability to effectively manage any project that isn't directly connected to his own body, we're not sure we know what the city is voting for, either. As Daley starts playing shell games and bait-and-switch with public funds and the city council, the rest of us are left wondering what other deception we're in store for. One thing we are sure of, is that this $500 million, and the sale of public land to be swapped out for Olympic largess isn't the last we've heard of how much the city is going to have to cough up to get this disaster located here. We can reassure Freddrenna Lyle, however, that plenty of contracts will be awarded to minority women that are fat white men with names like Duff, should Chicago land the Olympics. But hey, it'll be good for the morale of the city, right?