Category Archives: Five Ring Circus

Olympic Hurdles

While Chicago reporters and pundits gleefully assume a President Obama increases the chances of the city winning the 2016 Olympics – as well as assuming that would be a good thing despite a mountain of evidence arguing otherwise – the frequently quoted outfit that calls itself “the original and most trusted formula for rating Olympic bids” just dropped Chicago from first to third in its rankings.

“Despite this week’s historic U.S. election victory by Barack Obama who has close ties to the city – Chicago’s bid fell to third behind Rio de Janeiro,” GamesBids states. “While President-elect Obama will certainly be a valuable asset to the Chicago bid team, it’s too early to determine whether his politics or involvement in the bid will have a significant impact on the final vote next October.”

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It Takes an Olympic Village

With the mayor’s Olympic Village plans in limbo, we here at Division Street Labs have learned of alternate sites being considered by the Chicago 2016 committee.

* Welcome back, Cabrini-Green!

* That giant ferris wheel planned for Navy Pier fits at least two to a car.

* Sending the Sox on a long road trip while Olympians camp out at The Cell.

* O’Hare’s concourses are already equipped to house long-term visitors.

* The Brown Line is converted to sleeper cars.

* Local pols say Oxford, Wisconsin has acceptable facilities.

The Beijing Transit Authority

“Chicago Mayor Richard Daley took a subway ride in Beijing on Wednesday as part of his efforts to scope out ways his city might refine its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics,” AP reports.

Daley was impressed, but said that “upgrading an aging public transportation system to be as nice as the one in Beijing isn’t cheap and finding the money to do it is difficult.

[UPDATE: The Trib has a photo of Daley on a train. A Division Street reader wonders if the mayor has ever been spotted on one of ours.]

[UPDATE 2: Here's an AP video report.]

“‘No one can spend this much money. I mean, no one can spend it. I don’t care. What country can spend this much money,’ he said.”

Um, apparently China can.

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Terminal Politics

“The Daley administration is forging ahead with planning for a new western terminal at O’Hare Airport – though it doesn’t yet have the money to design or build it and is not sure exactly how it will be used,” the Sun-Times reports in “City Seeks Ideas For New O’Hare Terminal.”

“City Hall has issued a ‘request for qualifications’ that asks design firms to plan for a range of possibilities for the new terminal.”

Here are some of the early front-runners:

* Millennium Park West. Frank Gehry will team up with Helmut Jahn to create a tribute to urban planning.

* Obama’s Midwest White House. Tony Rezko will be asked to buy the rest of neighboring Bensenville to seal the deal.

* The International Olympic Committee Terminal. Serving only members of the International Olympic Committee.

* The Legacy Airlines Museum. Preserving United and American in amber for posterity.

* Clout Terminal. No gates for planes, just McDonald’s and Connie’s outlets.

* O’Harrah’s. Loosest slots in the Midwest.

Money Matters

“[The governor] cut more than $240,000 for the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois, Springfield, and $800,000 to address the state’s DNA testing backlog. Another $1 million to offset the cost of videotaping police interrogations was cut,” Kristen McQueary reported on Sunday.

I thought of this while reading these stories today:

* “Olympic Bid Raises $12 Mil, $37 Mil To Go.”
* “Mich. Ave Riverwalk To Cost City $8.1 Mil.

I realize the funding sources for all of these things are different, but doesn’t it say something nonetheless about our priorities?

Daley’s Superstation

Former CTA chief Frank Kruesi is being fitted for the jacket for the absolute disaster that is the CTA Superstation – and maybe he’ll even do his boss a favor and wear it. But how does Rich Daley escape from responsibility for once again bungling a big project? Paging the IOC!

“With the new expenditures, the project – originally budgeted at $213 million – will have consumed about $320 million,” writes Ben Joravsky at Clout City.

“I remember when the City Council passed the funding for this project back in 2005. A few aldermen told me they voted for it because they had no choice – it was one of the mayor’s pet projects. Keep in mind, the Olympics is another one of Mayor Daley’s pet projects – which everyone, including Barack Obama – feels compelled to endorse.”

(As if he ever opposed a Daley project. Can anyone name one?)

“Let’s hope the IOC gives the games to Rio,” Joravsky writes. “It will be a miracle if this bunch gets through the games without driving us bankrupt.”

Of course, the Children’s Museum is another pet project destined to go the way of the Superstation, Soldier Field, the expensively screwed-up expansion project at O’Hare, the five-years-behind-schedule CHA “transformation,” the massively overrun 911 center and on and on . . . including Millennium Park, whose mesmerizing Bean seems to have put a spell on everyone who thinks it’s the model of urban planning. And all that is just for starters. (The city is TIF’d to the hilt; consult Joravsky for the skinny on that scheme.)

Is it too pat to say the emperor of city management has no clothes? I mean, I haven’t even mentioned torture, Meigs Field, Robert Sorich, the criminal response to the 1995 heat wave, the police department, or Daley’s Friends & Family Program, which conveniently slips the minds of all those Todd Stroger bashers.

Paging Mike Madigan! I think we’ve got a bill of particulars for impeachment must stronger than the stew of incompetence and corruption emanating from the governor’s office.

Let’s take a closer look at the Superstation, just to get a whiff.

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Losers’ Circle

There’ll be plenty of coverage to chew on about Chicago advancing to the next round in its bid for the 2016 Olympics, but for now, let’s mourn the losers. I was really pulling for Doha, Qatar, to sneak in there.

The News From Doha: It’s the middle of the night in Doha, so I guess the Gulf Times – apparently Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper – can be forgiven for not having gotten the news yet.

“The excitement is palpable and the tension unbearable as Qatar awaits its tryst with Olympic history when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reveals its Candidate City shortlist for the 2016 Games in Athens today,” the paper still says at 12:22 p.m. CST.

“Qatar couldn’t have chosen a better slogan to drive its Olympic dreams and it would be nothing short of a ‘Greek tragedy’ if the Doha-2016 Bid fails to get past the first hurdle.”

The News From Prague: Apparently they don’t publish bad news in The Prague Post because the Olympics aren’t mentioned anywhere – at least on the home page. The Czech Hunter S. Thompson, though, is going on a hunger strike. That’s something.

The News From Baku: Apparently they don’t publish bad news at AzerNEWS Online because the Olympics aren’t mentioned anywhere – at least on the home page. Azerbaijani billionaire Vagit Alekperov plans to buy England’s Tottenham football club, though. That’s something.

No wonder Doha, Prague and Baku were eliminated; their local media simply isn’t cooperating. I wonder if they have children’s museums there.