According to DigBoston reporter Chris Faraone, Boston 2024 president Dan O'Connell mentioned state representative and Cambridge city councilor Tim Toomey by name as a supporter during a press conferences last Wednesday. Boston 2024 is the group trying to bring the Olympics to the city that year. "I do not know where he got that impression. I am opposed. Period," Toomey responded on Twitter.
In fact, in December, Toomey and other members of the Cambridge city council passed a resolution declaring their opposition to Boston 2024's bid for the Olympics.
Later in December, Toomey issued a scathing statement condemning Boston 2024 for its lack of transparency:
I have just one question for Boston 2024, the private group that put Boston into the running as a potential host for the 2024 Olympic Games: “Just who asked you, anyway?”
It certainly wasn’t the public. Not a single vote, public meeting or hearing preceded the submission of Boston 2024’s bid to the U.S. Olympic Committee this month. In fact, we don’t even know what is in the bid – when asked, the organizers have refused to reveal any of the bid documents to the public.
The idea that an undertaking as big as hosting the Olympic Games is even being contemplated without an ounce of public review, input or consent is deeply troublesome. The future of the greater Boston region, its citizens and our scarce tax dollars are being gambled with by a handful of unelected people who stand to reap huge profits if the International Olympic Committee selects Boston as host city.
So far, anyone who has dared to question the bid organizers has been met with answers that are the equivalent of “trust us.” This worrying lack of transparency, coupled with the half-truths that we are being sold about the Olympics – such as its low-ball price tag of $4.5 billion, which includes none of the public investment in transportation and security that will be required to prop up the Games – make any of the promises being thrown out by Boston 2024 tough to swallow.
We know from the history of the games that the promises made to host cities are rarely delivered upon. Local and state governments emerge from the games saddled with debt that puts important public projects on hold, while advertisers, corporate sponsors and fat-cat members of the IOC cash in. Public resources are stretched thin and important initiatives are put on hold as the attention of legislators and other public officials becomes dominated for years by Olympic preparation. Issues that are far more important than any sporting event ever could be – homelessness, hunger, workforce development and the education of our children – are pushed aside.
Even if it were true that hosting the Olympics would be the outside motivation we need to fix our transit system, I am very afraid that in doing so we would run the risk of prioritizing the interests and needs of the IOC and the Olympic Games over those of the MBTA ridership, who will have to live with whatever changes we make to the system decades after the closing ceremonies.
In Boston 2024, we see a small group of people promising us that we will all benefit from their success, and that once they have finished throwing a party for the world’s elite, the rest of us will get a crack at the leftovers the next morning. Those of us who have lived through the era of “trickle-down” economics – and who are still waiting, 30 years later, to see any benefit at all from tax cuts for top earners and deregulation of the financial industry – should be wary of this thinking.
If hosting the Olympic Games is as good of an idea as Boston 2024 says, they should be welcoming public input, not hiding from it. Unfortunately, the most transparent thing about this group so far has been how little they care about what the rest of us think.
By the time Boston 2024 had given its presentation to the US Olympic Committee and submitted its bid documents, the Cambridge city council had already passed its resolution opposing the Olympics. Nevertheless, Boston 2024's bid documents, which were released to the public this past Wednesday, still contained the following passage, which gives the implication that the city government is on board with the plan:
In addition to state officials, mayors of cities and towns outside of Boston have shared their support of our bid. While the City of Boston will be the official host city of the Games, Boston 2024 envisions strong collaboration with municipalities that may host venues or accommodations, and our partnership with their local leaders will be critical to our effort. The cities of Cambridge, Newton, Somerville, Medford and Lowell have already stepped up to the plate, and we expect more to join our Olympic quest in the coming months.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who has been working closely with Boston 2024, previously expressed outrage when two companies were found to have incorrect information on applications to open medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. Walsh urged the Department of Public Health to exclude any companies found to have inaccurate information on their applications.
One of the companies, Good Chemistry, erroneously claimed in its application that it had support from state lawmakers and city councilors.
While Walsh opposes allowing companies to open medical marijuana dispensaries if they misrepresent their political support, it remains to be seen whether he will cease to work with Boston 2024 for doing the same.