Tuesday, the United Independent Party announced that it has officially partnered with Yes On 1, the organization that led the anti-gas tax initiative last year, to run a campaign for a ballot question that would protect taxpayers from the cost of a potential Boston 2024 Olympics. It’s a case of strange bedfellows, since the UIP opposed Question 1, but the groups agree on the need for preventing taxpayer money from being used for the Olympic games. The initiative would bar state funding from going towards anything other than transportation improvements.
Yesterday, during a radio debate with No Boston Olympics, Boston 2024 CEO Rich Davey was asked what he thought about the UIP initiative, responding, “I would vote yes on that, absolutely.” This is big news, since while Boston 2024 had previously said they’d support a statewide referendum, they’d been hazy on the specifics. Endorsing the UIP initiative, which is broad and binding, signifies that they’re willing to truly commit to not using taxpayer money for the Games.
So if even the bid committee supports a ban on using public money for the Olympics, why aren’t our elected officials getting on board? The legislature recently voted down an amendment to the same effect, instead opting to require a hearing before they spend any taxpayer money. How about the legislature listens to the will of the voters and passes the ban, so citizens don’t have to waste the time and money on a ballot initiative that does it for them?
HR's Kevin says
We all know that there is absolutely no way we can have the Olympics without massive public spending. You just simply have to pretend to yourself that the public money is only going to be spent on “infrastructure” projects that we would/should have done without the Olympics. It also pretends that public money will not be spent on overtime for Government workers in fire, safety, public works and other departments (and does anyone really believe that the Federal Government is really going to cover *all* the costs of security). It also pretends that the host city is not *required* to financially guarantee the Olympics.
The *only* iron-clad way to ensure that massive sums of public money will not be spent on the Olympics is to not host them.
While the UIP initiative would be binding and have some real teeth to it, making the state government unable to give funding (including bonds), you’re right that it wouldn’t stop all public spending. Ballot initiatives can’t bind municipalities, so Boston and surrounding communities could still end up footing some of the bill. And agreed, it would certainly at least cost the city in police overtime.
HR's Kevin says
Let’s be clear here, actual revenues generated by the Olympics in terms of ticket sales, merchandise, and broadcasting fees will only cover a small portion of the costs. Corporate donations will bring in some more revenue, but mostly at the cost of other charities. The rest has to come from the Government. There is no where else it can come from.
Personally, I am *far* more worried about municipal costs than state costs. As you not, this measure does not affect municipalities at all, and Boston looks like a huge money pot to Boston 2024. They see large tracts of highly valuable commercial land that will make billions for developers if they can wrested away from their current users. I don’t see how this ballot initiative is going to prevent them from exploiting every piece of real estate they can get their hands on.
Only Boston is forced to sign on the dotted line to being accountable to pay for any and all cost overruns.
So if a state initiative didn’t apply to Boston’s government, then the state initiative isn’t anywhere near enough protection for our state’s residents.
Boston simply can’t afford to take on this level of risk, and if a statewide ballot initiative can’t apply to Boston, then it’s time to pull the plug altogether.
(1) Given how many times Rich Davey has lied about the bid, there is no reason to believe he would not when asked this question.
(2) If you read the IOC Host City Framework that was just released earlier this week, you will see that there will certainly be a lot of public money–at all levels of government—used. Here’s a snippet:
(3) One form of public money that Falchuk’s amendment does not cover–but which Boston 2024 certainly wants–is tax incentives for development, and that’s a problematic piece of corporate welfare of its own.
News today reported that they will present a new plan to the USOC at their next meeting, which as of now still supports Boston, but wants to see more public support.
Kevin is right to point out that the line on what is publicly funded will be blurry no matter how you slice it, but I see the CEO’s willingness to embrace the principle as significant.
HR's Kevin says
They are at least recognizing that opposing the ballot initiative was going to be a huge loser for them.
I still wouldn’t say they are really listening in any genuine sense. They are still in no way living up their promises of transparency. Notice how we still have absolutely no financial details? I would be willing to bet when that when they finally have the 2.0 reveal, it will be very light on budget details.