Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Walsh Says No Olympics in Boston

It's the big story of the day:

"USOC, Boston organizers halt bid to host Olympics; Move comes after Walsh balks at guarantee to cover overruns" by Mark Arsenault and Michael Levenson Globe Staff  July 27, 2015

Boston’s improbable bid to host the 2024 Summer Games collapsed Monday after seven months and millions of dollars spent, ending a tumultuous effort racked by acrimonious debate, public relations blunders, and limited public support.

Bid organizers and the US Olympic Committee jointly agreed to pull the bid after Mayor Martin J. Walsh declared at a hastily scheduled news conference that he was not yet ready to put city taxpayers on the hook for any costs related to the Games if local Olympic organizers ran out of money.

Anticipation that the bid could unravel had been building steadily for months, because of low public support. Over the weekend, the Globe reported that the USOC was pressing Walsh to guarantee that the city would be the final backstop for Olympic cost overruns or revenue shortfalls, which raised new questions about the long-term fate of the bid.

“I cannot commit to putting the taxpayers at risk,’’ Walsh said at the news conference. “If committing to sign a guarantee today is what’s required to move forward, then Boston is no longer pursuing the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

With the USOC scheduled to discuss the Boston bid Monday, Walsh’s news conference seemed designed to preempt a decision from Olympic officials to dump the city.

The USOC turned immediately to finding a new bidder for the 2024 Summer Games, with two-time host Los Angeles the most likely contender. The death of the Boston Olympic effort may also lift the fortunes of a potential 2024 bid from Toronto, which just finished hosting the Pan Am Games.

The plan was laid out in full and hailed. The USOC said they were pleased with changes, although the bid was not certain. They denied that, of course, and claimed Los Angeles wasn’t being readied as backup even though there was no denying Los Angeles’s growing Olympics appeal. There may be an opening for Toronto; however, Boston avoided a record fiasco and you should be ‘heartened’ at that.

“The USOC would very much like to see an American city host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024,” Scott Blackmun, chief executive of the USOC, said in a statement. “We will immediately begin to explore whether we can do so on a basis consistent with our guiding principles, to which we remain firmly committed.”

Hours before the Boston effort crumbled, Governor Charlie Baker told the USOC that he would remain neutral on the bid until a state consultant, the Brattle Group, finished an analysis of the proposal from the bid committee, Boston 2024.

Baker later parried a series of questions from reporters Monday afternoon, careful not to apportion blame for the bid’s demise, or directly answer a query about whether he was more disappointed or relieved.

“I’m not going to question whatever decision the USOC makes,” Baker said. The Brattle report, due in August, will be made public, he said. The state will then get a chance to see how good or bad an idea it may have been.

An opposition group, No Boston Olympics, celebrated the termination of the bid. “We are a city with an important past and a bright future,” the group said.

“We got that way by thinking big, but also thinking smart. We need to move forward as a city, and today’s decision allows us to do that on our own terms, not the terms of the USOC or the [International Olympic Committee]. We’re better off for having passed on Boston 2024.”

A group led by former gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk said it would drop the campaign to put a question on the 2016 ballot that would have banned state aid for the Olympic bid.

Residents were to have their say even though money matters more. Was quite a reversal, and question has been answered.

Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, an unpaid member of the Boston 2024 board, sounded his disappointment in a Globe interview Monday.

What does Pedro think, sigh?


The USOC cited low poll numbers as the primary cause of the breakup with Boston 2024. 

I dumped all the polls in order to save time.

The standoff between the mayor and the USOC over signing the host city guarantee — a promise that Boston would cover any cost overruns — appeared to be the final blow that ended the bid....

Yes, that's the way it appears.


It was a big risk for him, but it was too close for comfort so he must have learned his le$$on.

Related: Globe Olympics Coverage Sucks Up All the Oxygen in Boston

I stopped breathing for a bit:

State leaders may hire consultant to review Olympics costs
Beacon Hill leaders seek Olympic consultant
City Council creates panel to assess impact of Olympics
City councilors press Olympics backers for details on financing

They grilled the former MBTA puke who is getting something like $370k for heading the committee.

USOC wants stronger backing from Walsh, Baker on Olympic bid

He tried to negotiate with them, but they didn't see things his way

Not only is there is no such thing as a risk-free Olympics, they are unavoidable and the risks could be hugeRound and round we go, and where it $tops, no one knows:

Boston 2024 grassroots campaign makes use of political players

Look at 'em all feeding at the committee trough. 

Olympics group airs finances, donor list
Boston 2024 counting on corporate America for $1.52 billion
Championship pedigree to join Boston 2024 board
Ray Flynn, Aly Raisman to join Boston 2024 board
Aly Raisman confident as she takes aim at Rio Olympics
In Olympics bid, risks and rewards for state’s top politicians
Olympics bid focus shifting from Fish
Red Sox executive Larry Lucchino in talks with Boston 2024
Shake-up in works for reeling Olympics group
Pagliuca takes over as Boston 2024 chairman

The USOC was getting impatient.

At least the whole effort was a way for the elite of Bo$ton to dole out some checks to each other.

"Mistakes, missed opportunities sank Boston’s Olympic bid" by Mark Arsenault Globe Staff  July 28, 2015

The pursuit of the 2024 Olympic Games was billed as Boston’s opportunity to compete against the world’s great cities, but the effort collapsed before even toeing up to the starting line.

As with many great disasters, it was not one thing that sank the bid, but an accumulation of mistakes and missed opportunities, a mishmashed message, unanswered attacks from aggressive opponents, and bad luck — in the form of 100-plus inches of snow.

Look, it's a disaster. Puh-leeze!

"The unprecedented storms that have buried Boston in recent weeks appear to have inflicted still more damage, sharply eroding public support for the city’s 2024 Olympic bid. Just as organizers have launched a major campaign designed to generate enthusiasm for the Games, a poll shows more Boston-area residents now oppose the bid than support it, a reversal from last month. The results raise an intriguing question: If public support for the Games continues to fall, it could spell trouble for the bid." 

The more snow that fell, the more they fell in the polls.

Supporters were never able to ignite much visible passion for the Games, and the public debate descended into a joyless cost-benefit analysis of financial risks and rewards, which seemed to inspire only the dissenters.

Well, it's pretty clear where the Globe's reporting sentiment lied.

In choosing Boston as the US bid city in January, the United States Olympic Committee hoped to create a new Olympic legacy in a place that had none. In one way, that happened: The abandoned Boston bid will stand in history alongside Denver’s decision to give back the 1976 Winter Games as a low point for the Olympic movement in America.

The failure is another false start for the USOC under chairman Larry Probst, who also headed the board during Chicago’s startling first-round loss six years ago in the contest for the 2016 Games, which will be held in Rio.

The United States last hosted an Olympics in 2002 — the Winter Games in Salt Lake City. The 1996 Atlanta Olympics are the most recent Summer Games in the United States. If another US city, probably Los Angeles, cannot be quickly substituted for Boston, America’s Olympic drought will reach at least 24 years; for the Summer Games it would reach at least 32 years.

Boston 2024 died Monday in a standoff between the USOC and Mayor Martin J. Walsh over the mayor’s hesitancy to put city taxpayers behind the Games in case organizers ran out of money.

But the effort had already been mortally wounded by controversy, public opposition, and Boston 2024’s inability to find a sales pitch to fire up supporters.

“Opposition to a bid is nothing new,” said Ed Hula, editor of “Around the Rings,” a trade publication that covers the Olympic movement. What distinguished the Boston debate, he said, was a palpable “lack of enthusiasm” for pursuing the Olympics.

The bid’s first chairman, Suffolk Construction chief John Fish, tried to promote the world’s most prestigious athletic event as a vast public planning exercise, which may have stirred the hearts of property developers but failed to resonate with the general public.

RelatedReports suggest Boston 2024 sought city’s help in funding bid

The numbers don’t add up, same as always -- and they minimized it by omitting the proposal that the city of Boston finance land and infrastructure costs by issuing tax increment financing bonds before backing off the plan (although they might still seek some public financing for infrastructure). The initial bid also took a rosy view of the pitfalls while the funding turned out to pose challenges.

“The conversation about the Olympics is not about the Olympics, it is about investing in the future,” Fish said at Curry College in 2014, according to a summary of his remarks on the school website. “Where do we want to be in 2030? What do we want our community to look like in that period of time?”

I want there to be a race track for the tours, and get those smelly fish people to move. I'm sure there are hidden costs, but the feds would have wasted money on it so it can't be a total lossThe debate came down to the “prospect of great reward, and the risk of great failure. ” 

Boston 2024 sold the Games as a chance to fix infrastructure, as a jobs program, and, in the second iteration of its bid in June, as a city-shaping economic development opportunity that would give rise to two new neighborhoods. 

Yes, they were going to fix the neglect of the public servants after all these years. The Olympics will leave a legacy in Franklin Park, but not in Brookline. The iconic courses would face a tall task in being built, although they could move gymnastics and basketball to the TD Garden. They won't be looking for any places to ride a bike now, and the tennis club in Dorchester won't get spruced up, nor will other area colleges.  The sounds of gunfire will not be heard in Billerica, and Allston no longer has an ally. Umass will no longer play a key role, and dreams of long ago are about to be razed. There is only one place to play volleyball, and it is not in Quincy (I'm done arguing about it).

“If Boston gets the Olympics, everybody in New England wins. That’s our viewpoint.... “The economic opportunity from hosting goes without saying.” 

Thankfully, they won't be coming to the Deerfield River.

Often lost in the local Olympic pitch: The Olympics and world-class sports.

“You’re going to want the Games because of the intangibles and the emotion and the excitement,” said an organizer of the 1996 Atlanta Games who followed Boston’s debate. “If you get caught up in the nitty-gritty, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

Problems dogged the local bid committee from practically the moment it made the USOC’s short list last year, including complaints about transparency and documents carefully guarded for months, the fee it agreed to pay former governor Deval Patrick for travel, and the redacted proposal for public financing of land costs and infrastructure.

Hiring Patrick for $7,500 a day for occasional travel may stand as Boston 2024’s most damaging miscalculation, which contributed to a sense that the bid committee had become a landing pad for the politically connected. Public scorn was harsh and Patrick announced he would forgo the fee.

That was the $en$e I had, yeah.

In the bad luck department, the city’s worst winter in recorded history with record snows. Throughout the transit crisis, Boston 2024 failed to articulate a compelling vision for how the Olympics could help fix the T.

Bad luck.

RelatedT repair facilities pose challenges to Olympic stadium

The Olympic group's solution could add millions to cost?

"A transportation scenario that could play out on the region’s busiest highways if Boston’s revised bid for the 2024 Olympic Games proves successful. It’s a potential pitfall of a feature — called “Games lanes’’ — that the International Olympic Committee urges host cities to implement so that athletes, IOC members, media, and sponsors can count on reliable journey times. Opponents of Boston hosting the 2024 Summer Games say the very idea of IOC officials being chauffeured along special lanes while commuters struggle to get to work epitomizes their position that this bid would work against ordinary residents. “We think it’s pretty outrageous that the princess of Liechtenstein and the duke of Luxembourg and the prince of Monaco and all these other unelected folks in the IOC feel that they should be given exclusive access to the highways that people like us drive on every single day,” said Chris Dempsey, cochairman of No Boston Olympics. “And that they have a chance to do that separate from the traffic, separate from any of the inconvenience that this is going to cause other people.” It may not come as much of a consolation to Boston 2024 opponents who believe the Games are being forced on them, but in authoritarian countries, Olympic-related traffic restrictions face little resistance and often go beyond Games lanes."

Look at the desperation there. 

You know, in authoritarian countries.... is that really the comparison the Globe reporter wanted to use to say you should be welcoming the Games? 

That's not consoling at all, and shows a frightening level of self-internalized values for a member of the media.

Also seeBoston 2024 stretches its definition of walkable Olympics

Gotta hop on the T to get there.

Now you can blame the T, but London mayor predicts Boston Olympics opposition will fade Monday’s snow delayed London mayor Boris Johnson’s arrival at the British Consulate in Kendall Square, The event came after the weather interfered with some of Johnson’s other plans, including an appearance at Harvard University’s Stem Cell Institute. Johnson is on a six-day tour of the United States." 

He jets over here to harangue about global warming.

In London, Games’ legacy came first

That's not the way the alternative media reported it at the time, or what the residents claimed! It was a big party for the global elite, and Bo$ton wanted theirs! 

May not get your mail on time, either.

Bad polls, and the negative public relations feedback loop they created, were a frequent problem for Boston 2024.

Opponents brought together right-leaning voters who feared government money would be used and voters on the left concerned about Olympic gentrification driving low-income residents out of their neighborhoods. The opposition group No Boston Olympics hammered the bid committee with a simple message: the Games are not worth putting taxpayer money at risk....

Look at the pro-Olympics Globe splitting us up into groups after we all came together.


RelatedTaxpayer risk is Boston 2024’s highest hurdle

Such cynical citizens in this bastion of corruption.

Ready for a lecture by one of the elite?

"New Boston a lot like Old Boston" by Shirley Leung Globe Columnist  July 28, 2015

And just like that, in a morning news conference followed by an afternoon press release, it was over, an unceremonious death that didn’t befit the massive dream.

No more comparisons with Paris and Rome, no torch-lit opening event nearly a decade in the offing, no transformation of entire swaths of the city that were nothing more than unheralded tow lots seven months ago.

There’s a way to spin this that should make people feel good, and it goes like this: We don’t do track meets here, we cure cancer. We have the world’s greatest universities and hospitals. We are smarter and more pragmatic than everyone else, and that applies to how we spend — or at least risk — our money. We don’t need the Olympics in Boston.

So why then does this feel as if the possibility just gave way to a skeptic’s reality, as if the old Boston just smothered the new?

Here’s the issue: New Boston acts a lot like Old Boston. We still put up a fierce fight when someone tries something novel. Given the chance to think big about our future, we tied ourselves up in the minutiae of tax breaks and traffic studies. Accusations quickly replaced ambitions.

Whose we?

We used to accept this as the way things got done — or didn’t. In a long-ago era, a cabal of businessmen worked with mayors behind the scenes to impose their vision on the city. It was known as the Vault, and it seemed that former Boston 2024 chairman John Fish and the United States Olympic Committee unwittingly followed their playbook.

Is it really that long ago?

It worked, for a while, as newly elected mayor Marty Walsh looked to get out of Tom Menino’s shadow.

But Walsh soon realized that while the Olympics might be a privately funded project, it’s got the public agenda at stake, and everyone needs to see every aspect of the plan. And thanks to Twitter and Facebook, everyone has a platform to blast their opinion to the world.

Yeah, too bad (thanks for coming, readers).

Too late. The damage was done. Boston 2024 had lost the public’s trust and never regained it — and the weak poll numbers reflected that.

It was nice that Walsh said at his Monday news conference that he had “no regrets” about pursuing the Olympics, but in the aftermath, we will be a region filled with them.

There’ll be regret that the Sportsmen’s Tennis center in Dorchester never got massive upgrades and a world stage. There’s regret in Quincy that one of the most popular Olympic sports, beach volleyball, will never be played on local sand.

There’ll be regret from everyday residents who, unlike some Olympic opponents, didn’t have the time or drive to take to Twitter hundreds of times a week to say they believe that Boston is big enough to attract the Games.

I’m with the legendary Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan on this one. He’s been to 11 Olympics. He loves them, and thinks Boston could have pulled one off — but needed stronger leadership from the start.

Here are my regrets. We could have hosted the Games on our terms. We could have made them sustainable. We could have posed little risk to taxpayers. We could have showed the rest of the world how it could be done. 

Then what was with all the secrecy, deception, and incompetence of the committee?

I regret that Mayor Walsh didn’t get a few more weeks to get comfortable with the insurance. I regret that Governor Charlie Baker didn’t get those weeks to digest his independent report. I regret that the USOC didn’t level with us about its desire to look elsewhere the entire time.

I regret that I spent my entire morning a more than two hours of the afternoon to do this.

“Boston is our city,” USOC member Dan Doctoroff said during the Globe and Fox 25’s televised debate last week.

There are many who notch this as a victory for Bostonians everywhere. No Boston Olympics and the naysayers certainly are, toasting each other at a Downtown Crossing pub Monday night. But this is no time for a celebration. 

She sounds bitter.

To the world, Boston is still the same old, same old — a difficult place to get anything done, a place where we’re happy as we are.

Now our regrets suddenly become Los Angeles’s opportunity.

Let’s only hope that our Olympic legacy isn’t about naysaying all the time.

If only our naysaying legacy was against war, huh?


She may have lifted me up once, but one lecturing letter offended more than just me. At least it justified the spending and kept the cash flowing to her heroes, whomever they may be at a given point in time. We know who the enemies are, and the games were beyond saving at that point. Now Kraft won't get to build a soccer stadium in Boston!!

So with all due respect, I'm going to stop talking about her:

"No Boston Olympics activists are heroes" by Joan Vennochi   July 28, 2015

You can call them cynics, spoilers, or naysayers for the role they played in killing Boston’s bid for the 2024 summer Olympics.

I call them heroes. 

Cat fight in the Globe newsroom!

“No elected official has publicly endorsed the group, they have not received significant financial backing, and their efforts have been limited to social media,” Boston’s Olympic backers wrote to the US Olympic Committee about a small band of opponents.

Three activists — Chris Dempsey, Kelley Gossett, and Liam Kerr — continued growing the movement so grossly underestimated by Boston 2024, and belittled by Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh as “10 people on Twitter.”

The activists behind No Boston Olympics questioned the public cost of hosting an Olympics. They demanded a true accounting of risk versus benefit for ordinary taxpayers — not just for wealthy developers.

Their persistence forced Boston 2024 to reboot its leadership and reluctantly reveal details behind its rosy pitch to the USOC. Because of concerns raised by these activists, public support for Boston 2024 lagged, and with it Walsh’s enthusiasm. Governor Charlie Baker wouldn’t get behind the bid either, and the USOC officially pulled the plug on Monday.

It was never personal, said Dempsey. It was always about the merits: “Is this good public policy?”

That was always the right question. If the honest answer is no, it’s a public service, not a crime, to say so. Naysayers, after all, helped make Boston the city it is.

They said no to King George III — who also underestimated the enemy — and yes to democracy.

And now look at us.

Rejecting the notion that education is only for the rich, they said yes to public schools and libraries. Naysayers opposed slavery and supported workers’ rights through the labor movement.

Doubt and skepticism are not dirty words. They are legitimate tools for assessing the best path to a future Boston that holds the greatest promise for the most people....


The people have spoken:

"End of Olympic effort gets mixed reaction from residents" by Travis Andersen, Jan Ransom and Rosa Nguyen Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent  July 27, 2015

Residents in Boston’s neighborhoods on Monday largely welcomed the news that the city’s bid to host the Olympics in 2024 had collapsed, though some people lamented a lost opportunity to change the face of the Hub for generations.

Why? Why does the state and its leaders need the impetus of the Olympics to fix everything? Just go do it!


Allyson McDonald, 42, who was jogging in the park with her husband, was flabbergasted to learn the bid had failed.

“It stinks,” said McDonald, of South Boston. “Who wouldn’t want the Olympics to come?”

It's unimaginable! 

McDonald noted that Los Angeles and Atlanta reported cash surpluses when they hosted the Games.

completely independent look by self-serving corporate non-profit says it would bring in billions.

She said that unlike more remote host cities in other nations, such as Sochi, Russia, Boston has a thriving economy that could make use of Olympic-inspired building upgrades after the event. The Globe ripped Russia

Some Dorchester residents were also stung by the news.

“That’s not right! We need more development,” said Giovanni Montague, 43. “To just stop pursuing it . . . why?”

At the Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center in the neighborhood, reaction was mixed....

"Amanda Achin, a Dorchester resident, said tonight was a night to celebrate. “I’m very excited,” she said. “I’m excited that the city won’t further become a police state, with hundreds of thousands of police; homeland security won’t be taking over our city; and our parks won’t be taken over by private companies.”

The Globe has talked to her a number of times(?); why cut that?



Let the Games Begin!
Let the Games Continue!
Let the Games End!

Globe Olympics Coverage Sucks Up All the Oxygen in Boston

Now what?

"First, MBTA. Second, the city and the BRA. Third, let’s fix the highways. Finally, let’s make peace."

I would like that last part first, thank you -- as a matter of principle.

Thus the story line comes to an end. The soft sell didn't work, and not even the magic of Manfredi could save it. They never got to yes. Other side did a better job of making its case despite the 20 meetings over 20 weeks. In the end, they were unable to appease(??) the opponents.

At least more money will be going to charity:

"Charities fear donations will drop if Boston hosts Olympics; Nonprofits seek a bigger voice in decision-making" by Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff  February 10, 2015

Although the Olympics elevated Atlanta’s reputation globally, a downside of that attention was that “people on the margins sensed us as a city with streets paved with gold.” 

Follow the yellow brick road!


A rosier view comes from Michael Durkin, president of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, who was working for the United Way in Atlanta in 1990, the year that city won its Olympics bid. He left before the Games were played but said he does not recall raising less money due to competition from the Olympics....

Indeed, national and international companies would be the source of a significant chunk of the funding for the estimated $4.7 billion operating cost of Boston’s Olympics, as would local corporate marketing and public relations budgets — money that may not have been earmarked for nonprofit causes anyway.

And donors often rise to the occasion. After the Boston Marathon bombings, for example, the One Fund raised more than $60 million in its first 90 days of existence. Yet “I can only think of, offhand, maybe one or two corporate supporters that said, ‘We’re not going to be able to give you guys as much because we’ve given to the One Fund,’” Durkin said. “I was worried like the dickens that that would be a huge drain, but it was not for us at the end of the day.”

The man leading the effort to land the Games, Suffolk Construction chief executive and Boston 2024 chairman John Fish, said he has considered the possibility that local nonprofits could be hurt by the Olympics, but added that “the reservoir of wealth in Boston for philanthropy is one of the strongest in the country.” 

And yet there are so many homeless and poor in a city loaded with wealth inequality.

Fish also said he believes the Olympics could result in more, not fewer, philanthropic dollars flowing to Boston’s nonprofits because the Games would raise the city’s profile internationally, potentially attracting a wider universe of donors.

Related: Corporate volunteers can be a burden for nonprofits

It's an art, really.

Meanwhile, the competition for donor dollars is already underway. Boston 2024, itself a nonprofit, is soliciting contributions on its website....

"Massachusetts taxpayers willing to part with a slice of their state refunds can choose from a list of charitable options right on the tax form: endangered wildlife, organ transplants, the Massachusetts US Olympic Fund. Huh? How, one wonders, did the Boston 2024 Olympic organizers swing this so quickly? They didn’t; the entry has nothing to do with Boston’s Olympic bid. It turns out that the Olympic Fund, listed fourth out of six donation options on the 2014 state tax return, has appeared on the form since 1996, and it goes to support US Olympic teams. But that may confuse taxpayers."

Also seeBid documents put cost of 2024 Games at $10b

The "city and the state will have to pick that slack up, big time," but don't you worry.

“When movers and shakers get together and want to do a big thing like this, they sometimes forget to include people often left out of the power structure,” said Jonathan Spack, the executive director of Third Sector New England, a Boston-based organization that provides a variety of resources to nonprofits....

Someone else they forgot! 

Latest Olympic plan leaves media without a home

Hey, don't mention it!


Everyone has a favorite game, right?


Start with the above-the-fold lead (sigh). Some games are so important.

"While the public picture of the collapse of the city’s Olympic bid centered on Walsh’s dramatic news conference on Monday, that was only the culmination of weeks of behind-the-scenes tensions and jostling between City Hall and the USOC....



Walsh makes graceful Olympic exit, but not without bruises

Boston can bid for another Olympics — but probably not soon

Olympics bid is dead, but Brattle report will live on

And around we go yet again.


Mayors call public safety, jobs top priorities

In discussing Olympic bid’s demise, don’t forget arts and culture

Patriots’ public relations based on defiance

What was on Tom Brady’s phone?

Robert Kraft blasts NFL over Deflategate penalty

Brady, Kraft explanations have inconsistencies worth exploring

Boston failed to deliver on ‘promises’ to USOC, IOC president says

Those last three all on the front page.


With Olympics bid dead, who’s ahead? And who took a hit?

After Olympics bid, John Fish is down but hardly out

Governor Baker makes an Olympic joke. Too soon?

What can we salvage from the Olympic bid?

Boston 2024 donors don’t regret writing checks

Thank you for giving Los Angeles another shot at the Games