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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Those Chicagoans who opposed the Olympic bid did so coming from a place inside Chicago where they understand the politics of who would profit and who would lose. But the rebuff from the OIC had more to do with America than Chicago. The communication that lies beneath the decision is laid out in an article published at Salon titled "Chicago's Bid a Vulgar Display of Pelf and Power." The IOC was clearly making a statement, but most people just don't get it.

John Mortimer

San Francisco, CA

Oct 7 2009 - 11:43am

Web Letter

The results are in. Chicago came in last. Even Madrid and Tokyo did better. The question is, Did America come in last because of Obama's visit or despite it?

Is this the international line in the sand over America's war-mongering ways and treatment of its poorest citizens and Obama's fealty to those policies?

The president of Brazil, Lula, represents the opposite approach, being a peacemaker and advocate of the poorest. Rio won...

Michael McKinlay

Hercules, CA

Oct 2 2009 - 8:54pm

Web Letter

This article is filled with factual inaccuracies and half-truths. The Olympics would be a huge boost to Chicago's economy. Every Olympics in the US has been monetarily salient and most abroad have as well recently. Where the Olympics have not been a cash cow, organizers typically were focused on the impact to the city, which in turn was heavily subsidized by Olympic revenue, such as in Barcelona. With thousands of construction workers unemployed and city employees being forced into furlough days, the city is desperate for this economic shot in the arm.

Furthermore, the majority of Chicagoans support the Olympics. A recent AP article shows that public support is 72 percent; however, Mr. Zirin chooses to pluck the pole with the loaded question to support his argument. Most Chicagoans see gentrification as a good thing. Public housing developments have been a tragic failure and fuel the cycle of gang violence, segregation and extreme poverty. The Olympic village will become a mixed-income community and a percentage will become subsidized housing.

Finally, the Chicago bid is intended to beautify all parks used including Washington Park! Over seventy-five community groups have been brought to the table and have worked out an agreement with procurement targets at 40 percent for minority, disability and women-owned businesses. It’s amazing that so many people have been convinced that pumping tens of billions of dollars into there community on top of all the revenue that will be earned from the games is somehow a bad thing. But I guess when people with as big a soapbox as Mr. Zirin choose to blatantly mislead people, it becomes a bit clearer.

Nick Coklan

Chicago, IL

Oct 1 2009 - 9:00am

Web Letter

I have to completely disagree with this article. As a Chicagoan living in a developing part of the city (South Loop), I believe that the Olympics would rejuvenate this side of the city and increase property values. It is not true that 84 percent of Chicagoans don't want the Olympics. Actually, all of my neighbors want it badly. They see the great opportunity for the city.

I was truly offended to hear the author's description of the beautiful city of Chicago and the mayor. The author makes it sound like a rat-infested Mafia town. I disagree completely. The mayor has put plenty of resources into building the South Side (in which, incidentally, he lives and his family has resided forever). It has improved here so much in the past ten years that it is almost miraculous. As far as Daley's low approval rating, what politician has a high one at this point? Nobody.

In addition, public housing (which the author and the web letters defend so stoically) have been proven to be detrimental to the underprivileged by putting them in their own little place away from the others, a cruel form of segregation that is completely wrong--they need to be integrated with everyone else in order to really be part of society. That is the right and just way to solve the problem.

Chicago is a beautiful city, with the potential to be a world leader. We can accommodate the Olympics--we do have the resources, and the city and its people support it. We will be better for it.

I would say the author has been more than harsh with his words.

Tina Issa

Chicago, IL

Sep 29 2009 - 6:47pm

Web Letter

Ambivalence about the Chicago bid for haunts me. I live on the drive, overlooking the lake, the bird sanctuary and the free tennis courts that would be an Olympic venue. I fear the loss of the beauty and access to it. I have worked in government here and know almost everything is spoken for through clout and often incompetence.

But I love Chicago--and hope we might use the Olympics as an opportunity to move aside those who undeservedly feast at our table. We know their names and family skeins; shame on us if we don't remain vigilant against their greed.

This is a vibrant, beautiful and friendly city that should be shared with the world. I'm willing to take the chance.

Geraldine Conrad

Chicago, IL

Sep 24 2009 - 2:55pm

Web Letter

The people of Chicago have a twenty-year history with this mayor. If 84 percent don't want to pay for this fiasco, please trust that we have had a long time to experience our world with this guy Daley at the helm. We live in a very corrupt city in a very corrupt state, both of which are broke. The country is in a recession and this is not a good time to be gambling with our future and that of our children. There is considerable risk involved with financing this project, 100 percent of which is out of our control on October 3, as the IOC reserves the right to order anything built and we must comply. If the rest of the country thinks this is such a lucrative proposition, ask yourselves why the cities that already have the venues built don't scramble for them to come back. If Obama really cared about his adopted city or the country as a whole, and still wanted to host the games, he would encourage them to use an existing locale. The federal government must fund security, the state is committed for many millions, every American will be taxed for this opportunity for Chicago to be a terrorist target for a summer. Thanks, but no thanks.

Rhoda Whitehorse

Chicago, IL

Sep 23 2009 - 6:40pm

Web Letter

To a former Chicagoan, now observing from afar, this proposal sounds somewhat like what would happen if Bill Clinton proposed that the G-20 and the UN convene for a long weekend in Hope, Arkansas.

The biggest benefactor would be Wal-Mart and the taxpayers would have yet another (valid) reason to hate big government.

Ivan Hentschel

Cedar Creek, TX

Sep 23 2009 - 12:22pm

Web Letter

I've been following Zirin's articles for a while, and agree with a lot of what he has to say. But this latest piece got me thinking (and disagreeing with the author). The argument he makes for why the Olympics should not come to Chicago is the destruction of public housing and parks, graft and police violence. I see how these can happen, but don't these problems arise for any city the world that hosts the Olympics? If this is the case, then let's not have the Olympics at all. Or lets just pick one city that has the least amount of gentrification, fraud and police violence and hold it in that same venue every four years so we avoid spreading these problems all over the place.

The US is perceived by many as the only superpower left in the world. Chicago is one of its top five cities in terms of global recognition, population, culture and economic productivity. It's ridiculous to think that a world-class city like this isn't ready to host a Summer Olympic event. If Atlanta, Mexico City and Beijing can do it, I don't see why 84 percent of Chicago has issues dealing with the "problems" that it brings.

juan gonzalez

San Francisco, CA

Sep 23 2009 - 9:50am