Evan Falchuck, the former gubernatorial candidate and leader of the United Independent Party, announced yesterday that he is planning the launch of an exploratory process for a statewide ballot question on the 2024 Boston Olympics proposal.
According to a press release on the United Independent Party's website:
According to a January 12 poll of 1600 respondents conducted by Sage Consulting, 61% of Massachusetts’s residents oppose the Olympics if tax dollars are used to back the bid, with the majority of voters believing the Olympics will mean that other worthwhile priorities take a back seat.
“That finding, combined with the utter lack of transparency and concrete details we’re all seeing so far, are of great concern,” Falchuk said. "Like so many people in Massachusetts, I’m a sports fan and enjoy the competition of the Olympic Games. Yet we cannot avoid the reality that the Olympics are a business, and one with a track record of massive cost overruns where taxpayers end up stuck with a huge bill.”
Falchuk cited the woeful financial history of the Olympic Games as among the reasons why this exploratory process is needed. According to one comprehensive study of Olympic Games costs from 1976 to 2012, he noted, the average cost overrun from cost estimates initially presented was more than 200%. The findings come from Dr. Will Jennings, a researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science’s Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation.
"The Olympic bid represents the most important public policy decision facing the people of the Commonwealth in 2015 and beyond. Based on everything we have seen so far, one thing is certain: the public ought to have a right to vote on this,” Falchuk said. “As taxpayers and residents who will be directly affected, we all have a right to have our voices heard and heeded, and in the current circumstances, a ballot initiative may be the only way for that to happen."
The United Independent Party, officially created on Election Day 2014 as a major party in Massachusetts, continues to collect signatures for its “No Boston Olympics” petition drive from residents throughout the state who want their voices heard.
“In the years this quiet plan has been pushed by what one newspaper called a ‘Power Elite,’ taxpayers were not once asked if they want these games in Massachusetts – and certainly not whether they want the Olympics more than priorities like addressing underfunded services for seniors, veterans and kids in school," according to Falchuk. "At a time when we face a half-billion dollar budget gap, it would be a diversion of the public interest to use taxpayer money in this way. We plan to review closely the information released by Boston 2024 in the coming days and weeks, and will freely share what we find and our next steps."
Falchuk spoke several days ago about his support for a ballot question on the Olympics during an appearance on WGBH.
Dan O'Connell, president of Boston 2024, the group behind Boston's Olympics bid, responded to Falchuk during a separate WGBH appearance and said that he is against a vote on the Olympics. Several community meetings about the Olympics are planned around Boston, but O'Connell has said that nothing the public could possibly say at those meetings would lead his organization to stop moving forward with its bid.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has also said that there should be no vote on the Olympics, even for residents of Boston. Meanwhile, Walsh is suing Everett because he wants the people of Boston to be able to vote on a proposed casino in that city.
In addition to challenging the Olympics, Falchuk has other plans for his United Independent Party, including running several candidates in the 2016 election. The group became an officially registered party in Massachusetts during the last election, when Falchuk won over thee percent of the vote for the governor's office. Falchuk told WGBH the party's biggest priority for now is getting voters to register for the party so that they can keep their official status. "We are going to be the second party in Massachusetts. We intend to be the fastest growing party in Massachusetts," Falchuk told WGBH.