A couple of weeks ago I correctly predicted that President Obama would go to Copenhagen to support Chicago’s Olympic bid. I incorrectly predicted that Chicago would be selected by the IOC as the site for the 2016 Olympics. Friday morning thousands of Chicagoans filled Daley Plaza to hear the disappointing news; Chicago received only 18 votes in the first round balloting, the fewest of the four competing cities.
As a Chicago homeowner and frequent visitor to the city, I’m both relieved and disappointed with the IOC decision. I’m relieved that the Chicago wasn’t allowed to take on this enormous task, because the city’s politicians have not evidenced a shred of fiscal responsibility over the last twenty years. There is little question in my mind that the $4.8 billion construction budget would have ended up costing Chicago’s taxpayers at least $20 billion by the time the Olympics was held. There is also the well-deserved perception that most of the money would have gone to political insiders and their friends.
Over the next few days people will speculate why Chicago was not selected. Some will blame Obama, some will blame US foreign policy, some will blame Bush, some will blame Michael Jordan, some will blame Oprah, some will blame the ongoing feud between the IOC and the US Olympic Committee, and some will blame no one, saying that Rio was selected mostly because the continent of South America truly deserved to host its first Olympic games.
What is really important for humbled Chicago is that its government and people move forward to reestablish its legacy as a great American city. Alas, ‘the city that works” is no longer an accurate description for the once proud capital of the Midwest. Fortunately, many of the problems that plague Chicago are rooted in political ineptness and are theoretically changeable. Unfortunately, the democratic machine that controls the city is well fed from taxing to death the businesses and individuals that make Chicago home. The city also imposes crushing rules and regulations on those who wish to prosper. The government that used to be wise enough to take a few eggs from the golden goose has lately pursued killing the goose. Chicago needs to again be the city where free-enterprise prospers with encouragement from city hall, not in spite of the city hall.
In spite of the above observations, I love Chicago like a crazy man. The place oozes excitement and energy. Despite its problems and contradictions, Chicago is a truly incredible place. Gifted writer Nelson Algren once said, “Loving Chicago is like loving a woman with a broken nose.”
Long-time Chicago Times columnist Irv Kupcinet may have summarized Chicago the best when he wrote: “I’ve reported murders, scandals, marriages, premieres and national political conventions. I’ve been amused, intrigued, outraged, enthralled and exasperated by Chicago. And I’ve come to love this American giant, viewing it as the most misunderstood, most underrated city in the world. There is none other quite like my City of Big Shoulders.”