Bringing the Olympics to Boston has been talked about my entire life, but despite decades of discussion, there’s still little to no public groundswell of support for the idea. So why does the legislature still have a committee looking at it? Today’s Boston Globe report by Michael Levenson makes clear that construction and consulting firms are desperate to get their hands in the multi-billion-dollar Olympics cookie jar.
How blatantly is the process being driven by the wealthy businessmen who’d profit from it? The committee’s chairman is Suffolk Construction chief executive John Fish:
Fish’s firm could benefit from all the construction projects that would have to be built to host the Olympics. But Fish insisted his role as a construction company executive would not influence his role as panel chairman charged with impartially examining the viability of a Boston Olympics.
Oh, I’m sure Fish only has our best interests in mind & would never put his own first! Even though Fish thinks our climate, clean our air, and job prospects should take a back seat to Fish not having to look at wind turbines.
Consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers is also hoping for a piece of the action. Here’s how far down their rep had to dig for an example of something that didn’t completely rip off taxpayers:
[Barry] Nearhos, speaking about the new airport and high-speed rail line built for the Games in Sochi, told the panel that not all the costs for the projects were borne by the Russian public. For example, a private company built one of the ski venues in Sochi, he said, and will operate it as a private resort after the Games.
There was this one ski venue that was built properly! You might assume taxpayers would build the ski resort & private companies would profit, but in at least this one case, you’d be wrong!
The meeting seemed to keep coming back to public funding that would generate private profits. For example, Fish was eager to push “public-private partnerships”:
At the commission meeting, Fish mused about using a public-private partnership to build an Olympic village, which he said could then be turned into housing for middle-income workers after the Games end. He also said facilities at the 100 colleges and universities in the area could be upgraded to host athletes and events.
Here’s the thing: If improving public transportation, building more apartments, and investing in higher education is such a good idea (and it is), why don’t we just do that? Why do we have to shovel subsidies at the scandal-ravaged International Olympic Committee and “public-private partnerships”?
But wait, there’s more! A British diplomat reassures us that London benefited from the Olympics, probably … if you don’t count the absurdly massive cost overruns:
Costs ballooned about 300 percent over initial estimates and the Olympics may not have resulted in a net economic gain for the city, she said.
“I can’t honestly say we’ve made a profit out of the Olympics,” Kitchens said. […]
And, after the budget was revised upward by 300 percent, “we stuck to it,” she said.
After we gouged taxpayers for three times more than we’d first promised, we tightened our belts! It’s like fiscal conservatism for people who think the Iraq War was fiscally conservative.
Let’s invest in making Boston a great place for the people who live there, not for people who might visit for a week in 2024.