Tag: Mayor Daley

Richie Daley Wants You to Guarantee the Olympics

Got money?  Are you ready to help bail out the Olympics if they fail in Chicago?

Richie Daley thinks you are, and he’s gone rogue making promises on behalf of the people of Chicago and the state of Illinois.

Perhaps the mocking tone isn’t quite appropriate.  This is Mayor Daley, after all.  For all his apparent whining at times, the man is a savvy pol, a one man governmental body, never to be dismissed or underestimated.

But I’m confused, and apparently he is also.  Just what is he promising on behalf of Chicago?  Good luck trying to interpret the Daley doublespeak.

From the Chicago Tribune, June 18:

Faced with losing the 2016 Summer Games to competing cities offering full government guarantees, Mayor Richard Daley made an about-face Wednesday and said the City of Chicago would sign a contract agreeing to take full financial responsibility for the Games.

In a worst-case situation, such as severe cost-overruns or a catastrophic event, the agreement could leave taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars or even more, a scenario Chicago’s bid team acknowledges but insists is far-fetched.

Bid officials said they can offer the guarantee because they plan to add another insurance policy worth a minimum of $500 million to existing guarantees, which they think creates an ample buffer for taxpayers.

The move surprised Chicago aldermen, who wondered why Daley had made a sweeping financial promise without bringing it to the City Council.

Chicago had tried to avoid the full commitment by offering to sign a modified version of the host-city contract with the International Olympic Committee. But Chicago’s package of limited guarantees has been an Achilles’ heel for the bid, since the other finalists — Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo — are offering full government guarantees.

On Wednesday, Daley disclosed his change of heart, a move that jeopardizes his long-standing pledge to limit potential taxpayer exposure.

So Mayor Daley is apparently ready to throw in everything and the kitchen sink to see the Olympics come to Chicago.  However, Daley muddied the waters earlier today with a news conference that promised, well, we’re not sure what he promised.

From the Trib’s Clout Street:

Mayor Richard Daley today attempted to dampen the political firestorm he sparked while overseas last week when he told Olympics officials that Chicago would financially guarantee the 2016 Summer Games.

His remarks this afternoon, however, only further confused the issue.

The mayor, back in Chicago and addressing the issue locally for the first time today, seemed to contradict his own statements in Switzerland, as well as the public remarks of Chicago 2016 chief Pat Ryan and International Olympics Committee President Jacques Rogge.

“We agreed to sign a host city agreement with the provisions of the city, state and the insurance policy as added on to the host city agreement. That’s what it’s going to be and that is our protection for the taxpayers of the city of Chicago,” Daley said today with Lori Healey, Chicago 2016 president and the mayor’s former chief of staff, at his side.

But that version is markedly different from Daley’s remarks immediately after emerging from his June 17 meeting with the IOC, when he told the Tribune he had just agreed to sign the host city contract “as is.”

In a subsequent interview last week, the IOC’s Rogge confirmed that Daley had agreed to sign the standard contract without modifications.

How much are Chicago and the rest of the state at risk if all of this goes south?

From Clout Street again:

For months, the mayor and Olympic bid leaders had pledged not to sign the blanket financial guarantee that could put taxpayers on the hook if there are cost overruns beyond the $750 million level the city and state already have agreed to cover.

So, which is it?  $750 million is aweful close to $1 billion.  How much can we afford?

Make no mistake: I would love to see the Olympics come to Chicago.  Every town, village and city in Cook County would benefit, financially and otherwise.  As an added plus, the experience would be completely awesome.

Frankly, I’m suspicious of Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.  None of these cities can afford to make outlandish financial guarantees, and the IOC must know this.  Neither can Chicago.

Here’s the problem: Illinois does nothing efficiently, and Chicago is even worse.  We know that Patronage City will dish out completely unnecessary contracts all over the state.  If all goes well and the Olympics in 2016 are a huge success, somehow, someway, Chicago and the state of Illinois will manage to lose an incredible amount of money.

It’s inevitable.  This is Illinois.

There must be a way of landing the Olympics without promising a credit card the size of Mayor Daley’s ego.

Two Chicago Teens Shot in the Head

It’s a sad sign of the times when the Chicago Sun-Times has taken to writing one “two-fer” article to report on couple of recent shooting deaths in Chicago.

Today’s paper carries one story about two unrelated homicides from Wednesday, December 3.  According to police, Sergio Dukes, 18, was shot in the head twice and once in the chest in the 9600 block of South Indiana Avenue, after leaving a high school basketball game at Harlan High School.  Christopher Hanford, 19, was shot in the face in the 900 block of North Lawler Avenue, according to police.

Detectives are investigating both incidents, and no one is yet in custody.

Two lives lost, one article with barely any details about the men who died. Two unrelated lives lost in two unrelated instances, and one article article to show.

My criticism is not with the Sun-Times.  I know revenues have been down, there are fewer reporters, and there are oh-so-many homicides in Chicago.

Rather, I’m calling our attention to who we are once again, who we have become.  We hear no outrage from Chicago’s City Council or Mayor Daley on these deaths.  These men were not shot at the city’s lucrative Taste of Chicago.  The pols are not posturing as they did this summer.  No one is calling Jodi Weis in to testify this time.

Two men shot dead and nary a whimper.

We need to ask the big questions about who we have become as a society.

One group not afraid to ask the big questions is CeaseFire Chicago.  I heard CeaseFire make a presentation once at a workshop at Prairie State College.  They involve themselves with gang members for the express purpose of lessening gang violence.

From their Web site:

The Chicago Project has designed and tested a new intervention — CeaseFire — that approaches violence in a fundamentally different way than other violence reduction efforts. CeaseFire works with community-based organizations and focuses on street-level outreach, conflict mediation, and the changing of community norms to reduce violence, particularly shootings.

CeaseFire relies on highly trained outreach workers and violence interrupters, faith leaders, and other community leaders to intervene in conflicts, or potential conflicts, and promote alternatives to violence. CeaseFire also involves cooperation with police and it depends heavily on a strong public education campaign to instill in people the message that shootings and violence are not acceptable. Finally, it calls for the strengthening of communities so they have the capacity to exercise informal social control and to mobilize forces — from businesses to faith leaders, residents and others — so they all work in concert to reverse the epidemic of violence that has been with us for too long.

The group has had funding issues in the past, but received $400,000 in grants this past summer, thanks to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis:

The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded two grants to CeaseFire to continue its violence intervention work in Chicago’s West Garfield Park and West Humboldt Park neighborhoods.

The grants from the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the Department of Justice total $400,000 and will allow CeaseFire, based at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health, to keep workers on the street to intervene and mediate conflicts and to stop shootings and killings.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Chicago) expressed strong support for CeaseFire as an integral part of a comprehensive strategy to stop violence, especially shootings, in Chicago and elsewhere.

“In recent months, the Chicago area has seen an alarming increase in gang-related shootings and violence. Half of all homicides in Chicago have been linked to gangs,” Durbin said.

“We must continue to fight gang violence through a comprehensive strategy that prioritizes gang enforcement, prevention and intervention measures. Today’s grant for the CeaseFire program will help strengthen the overall effort to reduce gang violence in the region,” Durbin said.

“CeaseFire is an evidence-based program that really works, and we’re very pleased to see that the Justice Department is responding by providing some resources to work with it,” said Davis.

A recent three-year evaluation of CeaseFire, commissioned by the Department of Justice, validated the CeaseFire model as an intervention that reduces shooting and killings and makes communities safer. The report, led by Wesley Skogan of Northwestern University, found the program to be “effective,” with “significant” and “moderate-to-large impact,” and with effects that are “immediate.”

In one of the many missteps of his administration, Gov. Rod Blagojevich cut the state’s entire $6.2 million allocation for CeaseFire in August 2007.  In the aftermath of these cuts, 96 of the program’s 130 conflict mediators lost their jobs, and gang violence escalated yet again in Chicago.

Thanks to Durbin and Davis, CeaseFire has some solvency again.

But it’s not enough.

Mayor Daley and the rest of us need to whine about the killings again.  The State of Illinois needs to fund CeaseFire again.

We can’t afford any more “two-fer” homicide articles in the Sun-Times.