Boston 2024, the group trying to bring the Olympics to the city that year, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh have flip-flopped on the issue of whether there should be a vote on the games. According to The Boston Globe:
Chairman John Fish, who announced the proposal at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast Tuesday morning, added that even if the referendum passes statewide, Boston 2024 would not go forward with the Olympics if the group did not receive support from a majority of voters within the city of Boston.
Fish said his group would take the lead in gathering the signatures necessary to get the question on the ballot in November 2016.
Fish said he spoke with Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker Monday night, and they agreed with his decision to pursue a referendum. He also said the United States Olympic Committee endorsed the idea.
“All we ask is an opportunity to have a constructive dialogue with everybody in the Commonwealth … of how these games, the Olympic and Paralympic games, can benefit our community,’’ he said during the breakfast...
Separately, Walsh issued a statement endorsing the plan.
“The success of our bid for the Olympics depends on the support of residents and we should only move forward in a way that will bring the greatest benefit to the City and its neighborhoods,’’ Walsh said. “Over the next year, I encourage residents to engage in a conversation to learn more about what the Olympics could mean for Boston and the entire Commonwealth, and to put forward any suggestions or concerns.’’
Walsh had previously said he opposed a vote on the Olympics, even as he pursued a lawsuit to allow residents of Boston to vote on a proposed casino in Everett. Boston 2024 has shown such little care for public input that former president Dan O'Connell told WGBH that the group would move forward with its plan to host the Olympics regardless of concerns brought up by residents.
United Independent Party chairman Evan Falchuk has already been pursuing a statewide ballot question that would prevent tax dollars from being spent on the Olympics. Boston city councilor Josh Zakim has also proposed several non-binding ballot questions on the Olympics for Boston residents.
The move to support a ballot question seems to be part of an effort to rehabilitate Boston 2024's image. A recent WBUR/MassInc poll shows support for the Olympics has been rapidly decreasing, with just 36% of Boston area residents now in favor of hosting the games.
Boston 2024 may be hoping that, with their multimillion dollar budget, they can outspend the opposition and win over voters. They may also be hoping to control the wording of whatever question comes before voters.
A statement from the opposition group No Boston Olympics reads:
No Boston Olympics has always supported providing voters with a voice on the bid, and we are glad to see Boston2024 embrace that idea after months of rejecting it. The ballot language itself now becomes incredibly important. We hope to work constructively with Boston2024 to craft language that accurately and fully reflects the difficult choice facing our Commonwealth. We need to ask voters if taxpayers should be on the hook if things don't go according to Boston2024's plan.
We continue to explore supporting a non-binding citywide question this November. Boston2024's proposal impacts Boston residents differently than those in other communities, so it is appropriate to ask them different questions.
Evan Falchuk said that Boston 2024 seems to be trying to "stave [him] off," but that he will not stop pursuing his own ballot question.