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No Olympics, So Now What?

By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 2, 2009 4:00PM

The news hit Chicago hard today, as the IOC announced that the City by the Lake would not be hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics. Even more shocking, the city did not make it past the first round of voting. Mayor Daley's admonitions that the games are the best economic engine that the city has will be tested in the coming years, and an increasingly frustrated and angry electorate will be looking for leadership out of the financial and political swamp they've been dragged into.

With the Olympic shine brightening the shores of another city, most Chicagoans will soon be turning their focus back on the day-to-day issues that plague modern major cities: crime, economics and education. Add to that corruption and a city on the verge of bankruptcy, and you've got a recipe for what may be the most dramatic political struggle this city has seen since 1983. Daley's play to host the 2016 Olympics may not go down as the mayoral legacy the mayor had hoped for; rather than an attempt to reimagine Chicago as the Paris on the Prairie our planners envisioned, it could be remembered as his attempt to quickly rebuild a decimated patronage army, a last desperate attempt to hold power in the waning days of a corrupt mayor on the ropes.

As Ben Joravsky aptly observed, this city is still filled with "reporters around town who delight in exposing the murky details of inside deals, cost overruns, project delays, investigations" and the federal indictments that come with them. And while Daley has been making the rounds among the global elite, savvy and ambitious local politicians have quietly sharpening their knives, just in case the opportunity to make a name for themselves presents itself.

When Richard Daley returns to Chicago from Denmark, he won't be facing the adoring crowds he had hoped for. He's returning to a city that must cope with a soaring deficit, crime and corruption, and not least of all, a pissed off electorate. That isn't to say that his political obituary is written and or even published. Mayor Daley still has plenty of chances to hold onto his office in City Hall. It's just going to be a lot less fun. And if you listen carefully, you can hear the knives coming out.