The City Council's Finance Committee signed off
on an ordinance today that would provide the 2016 Olympic Bid Committee
with a taxpayer-funded blank check if Chicago indeed lands the 2016
games and exceeds its privately-funded budget. In what Ald. Manny
Flores (1st Ward) ...
The City Council's Finance Committee signed off on an ordinance today that would provide the 2016 Olympic Bid Committee with a taxpayer-funded blank check if Chicago indeed lands the 2016 games and exceeds its privately-funded budget. In what Ald. Manny Flores (1st Ward) tells us was "a fight until the end," a compromise ultimately emerged between his and the Daley administration's dueling proposals. The ordinance attaches some strings -- albeit loose ones -- to the unlimited taxpayer guarantee.
In typical fashion, while they agreed to certain provisions -- such as quarterly financial disclosure requirements -- City Hall was only willing to allow so much scrutiny. Most notably the administration rejected Flores' proposal to require the Inspector General to conduct an independent analysis of Olympic spending. Prior to the vote on the watered-down bill, Flores insisted that the Council show that "we are serious about oversight and that we are not just simply looking for window dressing to get us to the point where we think we can win the bid." Watch his remarks:
Nonetheless, a majority of Finance Committee members approved the compromise ordinance.
After months of media appearances calling for transparency and accountability to shield taxpayers from unfettered spending, Flores deserves credit for pushing the Daley administration in the right direction. But as certain local watchdogs have repeatedly noted, it's going to take more than this before taxpayers can rest assured they won't get taken for another ride.
The Sun-Times lays out the host of reporting requirements that the bid committee will now be expected to adhere to under the ordinance, which is expected to pass the full council tomorrow:
Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) and Budget Committee Chairman Carrie Austin (34th) will be ex-officio members of the Olympic Organizing Committee set to replace Chicago 2016 if the IOC chooses Chicago.
The City Council will also get quarterly reports on virtually all matters Olympics. They include: construction contracts, schedules and overruns; Olympic revenues and expenditures; forecasts of future revenues and expenses; staff diversity; minority contracting and insurance and copies of financial reports submitted to the IOC.
Flores tells us that, considering the unlimited financial guarantee, financial disclosure alone doesn't go far enough. "This sets the rules for engagement for how the process unfolds," he told us today. "We are not finished ... and we have seven years to demand more."
You can read the full ordinance below (click the button in the upper righthand corner to expand):