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Aldermen Call For More Olympic Transparency

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jul 1, 2009 3:40PM

Photo by Shawn Econo
In a rare moment of aldermanic clarity, it seems some members of the city council don't believe what they're being told about the city's Olympic bid. Led by 1st Ward Alderman Manny Flores, a group of aldermen are asking for an independent third-party auditor to look through the city's bid book for potential cost overruns. "It is critically important that we pursue the bid in a financially responsible manner and also in a manner where we provide full transparency for the city of Chicago, and fully vetting and evaluating the merits of the Games," Flores told CBS2. "That's what the residents of the city want," Flores said. "They want the assurance they're not going to be put on the hook long term."

49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore, supporter of liberal causes and mayoral gadfly chimed in as well. "The Olympics are going to lose a lot of support in the City Council," he told CBS2. "They certainly will lose my support unless I have the assurance that this will not end up in huge cost overruns." And 8th Ward Alderman Sandi Jackson said that "until we have our feet firmly on the ground in terms of the city's finances, we should not be guaranteeing more debt for this city."

Even the city's inspector general, David Hoffman, (who may be eying the desk on City Hall's Fifth Floor) has his doubts. He told a crowd at Chicago's City Club that the secrecy around the bid's financing is "just the wrong approach for government. It's OK if you put something out there and it's not perfect. If some people who presented that idea aren't seen as perfect, that's OK. Let's not be so impressed with our own ideas. There's no monopoly on wisdom." Noting that the Olympics is a chance for Chicago to clean up its image, he said it could have the opposite effect. "The question for us, I think, with regard to the Olympics, will be what will we be showcasing? Cost overruns? Clout? Corruption? Or a model to ensure that corruption does not creep in?" Responding to the criticism that his agreements with the International Olympic Committee could leave Chicagoans on the hook for billions of dollars should the Games run into trouble, Mayor Daley denied making any agreements with the IOC. "I signed nothing," Daley said. "Please. I signed nothing."