Depending on where you stood in the Boston 2024 debate, the failure of the Olympic bid is the fault of either:
A) The greedy and incompetent Boston 2024 committee or
B) The negative, backwards thinking, NIMBY, narrow-minded cynics who stand in the way of progress.
But whichever side of the ad hominem attack fence you’re on, we can all agree with one thing: The fact the USOC took the bid out back behind the barn and put it out of its misery is a triumph of the will of the people of Boston. Simply put, we as a people did not want this thing as it was presented to us. We didn’t trust what we were being told and ultimately shot the proposal down. You can all that negativity if you want, but to me the idea of healthy cynicism toward a small group of unelected, unaccountable, powerful people it the most positive force in the universe. Our country was built on it. And it’s worked out pretty much every time it’s ever been tried since.
Whatever else you think of No Boston Olympics and other similar opposition groups, they weren’t acting out of narrow self-interest. Unlike the original Boston 2024, they weren’t run by the owner of a construction firm or the head of the carpenter’s union who stood to make a buck out of their cause. They asked tough questions. They held the people in charge accountable. And ultimately they gave voice to a population who are sick of having powerful people not let little things like promises get in the way of gorging themselves at the public trough.
The Big Dig is the example everyone cites. But it’s just shorthand for dozens of similar examples. The MBTA. The Mass Pike toll booths that were supposed to come down by act of law in the late 1980s but are still standing. The trial court probation department. The “temporary” hike in the income tax. And on and on. We’ve been asked repeatedly to trust that this time we won’t get ripped off. And we won’t get fooled again.
Back when newspapers were a thing, they used to say you shouldn’t get into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. But we live in a world now where social media has leveled the playing field and given a voice to the not-so-well-connected. And the Olympic opposition groups used it to perfection. It was the Wikipedia definition of “grassroots.” It was democratic with a small “d.” They were the vox populi. They were a cyber “Les Miserables” storming the Bastille. The rebel scum who blew up the Death Star the USOC was threatening us with.
All you need to know about what the Boston 2024 bid was all about came Monday when, at the mere suggestion by Mayor Walsh that he wasn’t willing to guarantee public money to foot the bill for cost overages – two months before the deadline to sign guarantee – the kleptomaniacs at the USOC cut and ran. The came in to rob the joint and the first time Marty the security guard gave them the once over they dropped their weapons and ran for the getaway car. That should tell you what they were really after all along, and it wasn’t about showcasing sunny, fabulous Wollaston Beach to the volleyball-playing world.
So it’s to the undying credit of the mayor and the people of Boston that they demanded answers from these clowns instead of being led like sheeple to the financial slaughter. We are the Americans who invented the art of cynically opposing powerful people who are up to doing us no good, and 240 years later, we perfected it. Well done. The people of Boston have spoken.
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On Monday the United States Olympic Committee and Boston 2024 ‘jointly ended’ Boston’s bid for the 2024 Olympics.
“Thinking back on the Olympic bid, it was a great opportunity that we had here in the city potentially,” Walsh said. “I still view it that way. But we just couldn’t make it work.”
When asked about his press conference on Monday, Walsh clarified his reasoning for not giving his stamp of approval to the bid and how he had anticipated the bid would affect Boston residents.
“My statement was the right thing to do to let people know that I was not just going to sign an agreement that potentially could cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars if there were overruns, or if there were problems,” Walsh said. “I think the fact that we weren’t given an appropriate amount of time to be able to put a full bid together, that was unfortunate. New York and Los Angeles and Atlanta and Chicago, these other cities that went for the bid, they had a two-year period between the time they were selected by the USOC and when they had to put their application in to the IOC. … We were given several months.
“There were a lot of critics of the plan, and … a lot of it was based on taxpayers’ dollars. … I don’t think [taxpayers] fully understood what the commitment was by me or other people not to use taxpayers’ dollars. Certainly everyone knows today what the commitment was.”
Walsh said he didn’t think the bid was doomed from the start, however there were some aspects of the plan that bore too many potentially negative complications to ignore.
“I honestly felt that we could come up with a plan that would cover any overruns [the Olympic bid] might incur,” he said. “I looked at private developers building construction, the developer would have an insurance policy, the construction company would have an insurance policy and on top of that we were putting a blanket insurance policy to cover anything else. My concern was, ‘How do you cover it?’ I was unclear on, ‘How do you fully cover any potential overruns?’
“We talked to insurance companies and they were willing to look at it. Chicago had it down there and construction companies do it all the time, as do developers. They constantly have insurance in case of circumstances that are beyond the control of the construction project. So it happens already. But again, in the case of a company going bankrupt, that’s an unforeseen circumstance and the insurance covers that, but we weren’t able to get to that so I felt it was something that was important for us to finalize before I move forward.”
According to Walsh, he began to second-guess Boston 2024’s plan over the last week and a half, finally voicing his concerns at Monday’s press conference.
“I was optimistic until probably about a week and a half ago,” Walsh said. “I really felt that when Steve Pagliuca’s plan came out and he talked about his plan, I thought that it was a very good, solid plan. Obviously it would evolve and change. The revenue side of it I thought was a very good, well-thought and true plan as well. … When the [insurance plan] didn’t happen and then the USOC was starting to ask, ‘Where’s the Mayor in this?’ and one of the board members in the [Boston] Herald said yesterday, ‘We need the Mayor to be committed,’ if people didn’t realize that I was not committed to this thing then they wouldn’t know anything.
“I was actually excited about it. I thought that Boston hosting the Olympics would have been a great opportunity, but for about a week and a half now I thought that this thing was spinning our wheels here and we’re not gaining the traction we need on the ground. And then when they were insisting that I sign the document to cover any potential overruns, I knew that was something I wouldn’t do. … And that’s why yesterday happened.”
Instead of second-guessing what Boston 2024 could have done differently, Walsh suggests that the organization and the city should take lessons from the USOC bid experience.
“We all learned lessons. We were talking about building a $5 billion corporation in about three or four months here,” Walsh said. “Even City Hall, should we have been more involved at the higher level? Maybe. But I made it clear from the beginning that as mayor of the city of Boston, I’m going to continue to be mayor and the Olympics is only one piece of my day, not the entire day. For Steve Pagliuca, I would say there should be no regrets. He came in at a time and made some significant improvements and suggestions to the plan and some of those will be carried out afterwards.”
As far as Boston 2024’s plan for the renovation of the MBTA and Widett Circle are concerned, Walsh intends to incorporate the committee’s ideas into the city’s agenda in the future.
“We need to move forward with the T,” Walsh said. “There’s no question about that. The T needs to be upgraded, the T needs to be fixed. We’re talking about the city growing at an incredible clip, greater Boston is growing at a clip, and in order to grow economically you need to have a reliable, good and strong transportation system. I know the governor’s been working on that with the fiscal review board. He’s moving forward on that and at some point there will be an investment by the legislature and the governor to do something there.
“When it comes to Widett Circle, down the road we might be saying, ‘Thank god we had this conversation,’ because Widett Circle today generates about $800,000 in tax revenue and there’s potential when it’s fully built out to generate $150 million. We don’t necessarily need an Olympics to do that, but the Olympics got the conversation going, gave us some great ideas. Now we will look at that and pursue that and hopefully, potentially develop Widett Circle. When it comes to Harbor Point, there’s real potential down there to build additional housing as well as student housing for [University of Massachusetts-Boston], so some good conversation came out of this that we can incorporate into our Imagine Boston 2030 plan.”
The Mayor joined us to discuss the cities failed bid.
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Welter, 37, has already coached men, serving as linebackers and special teams coach with the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League. She also played for the Revolution briefly, as a running back and special teams player in 2014 — becoming the first woman to play a non-kicking position in a pro men’s league when she had two carries for minus-3 yards in the Revolution’s opening game that season.
‘Coaching is nothing more than teaching,’ Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Monday in a story on the team’s website. ‘One thing I have learned from players is, ‘How are you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don’t care if you’re the Green Hornet, man, I’ll listen.’ I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her.’
Added Arians: ‘She came for an OTA and I met her and I thought she was the type of person that could handle this in a very positive way for women and open that door.’
Arians noted that he talked to the team’s veteran players about Welter and ‘they were all very cool with it.’
Said Arians: ‘It’s not going to be a distraction in any way.’
Welter, who has a master’s degree in sports psychology and a PhD in psychology, is the second woman to join the league this offseason, as Sarah Thomas was hired as the first full-time female NFL official in April.
Tweeted Welter on Monday night: I am honored to be a part of this amazing team.
— Jonathan Martin, the victim in the Dolphins bullying scandal that dominated NFL news in 2013, reportedly will retire due to a back injury that would have required surgery for him to play again.
‘I hate to admit this, but he’d kill me,’ Bird said in an interview on ‘The Dan Patrick Show.’ ‘I’m 40 pounds more than I was when I played. I’m broken down. I really don’t care like I used to. I have a fight in me, but it’s not the fight that I once had. But it’d be a pretty close game.’
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 28, 1983, the Rangers replaced which former Red Sox manager with which other former Sox skipper?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: ‘I strongly believe that bringing the Olympic Games back to the United States would be good for our country and would have brought long-term benefits to Boston. However, no benefit is so great that it is worth handing over the financial future of our city, and our citizens were rightly hesitant to be supportive as a result.’ — Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, after the United States Olympic Committee ended the city’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Games
‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): With the Cubs trailing by a run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Kris Bryant hits a two-run home run for a walkoff win over the Rockies.
Orioles batter Matt Wieters leads off the 11th inning with a walkoff home run against the Braves.