But it was only a matter of time before more activists began organizing against the Hub’s Olympic bid for 2024. It’s especially amazing that it took this long to hear from people in Jamaica Plain, that hot spot for progressive politics where, tomorrow night at 7pm, skeptics are hosting a meeting at First Baptist Church on Centre Street. From the announcement:
Governor Patrick, Mayor Walsh, and an assortment of some of Boston’s most powerful people have held several private meetings with the United States Olympics Committee. In approximately two months, this committee will choose a city as a nominee …
Rather than asking the people of Boston if we feel hosting the Olympics is in our best interests, this small group of prominent people are making decisions behind closed doors, while saying that they’ll hold public meetings after our city is chosen as a nominee …
This secretive, private committee is selling out the people of Boston. We say no. The people of Boston have the right to determine the future of our communities and our city.
Planners go on to address the arrogance of Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish, the Boston 2024 ringleader, as well as the ridiculous plan to bring, among other things, horse-dancing to Franklin Park. Their beef: people in that area and other places that would be impacted by construction (i.e.: everyone, everywhere) haven’t been consulted.
There don’t appear to be municipal plans to solicit much future input either, at least not before the US Olympic Committee picks their winner in two months. After a devastating Boston Globe column by Eric Wilbur last week titled, “Behind Closed Doors, Boston Has Nearly Secured a US Olympic Bid Whether You Like It Or Not,” Jim Braude and Margery Eagan grilled Mayor Walsh on their WGBH radio show, only to learn that Bostonians may soon be notified about developments, but not necessarily engaged or consulted. According to the mayor:
[We’ve] been a little slow on the one area that I think we have to do a better job on, is notifying the public … This has to be strengthened, tightened up — a lot better process moving forward …
The majority of the money that’s going to be raised here for an Olympic bid … it’s going to be private money … There will be city- and state-owned land that [stadiums] will be built on … The city will not be building stadiums.
For a glimpse of the effort to counter the increasingly aggressive PR campaign by Boston 2024, we asked Robin Jacks, an organizer of Monday’s event (and recent Dig contributor), what might be in store:
“At this point, it is difficult to say exactly what Boston should expect regarding resistance to this Olympics bid,” Jacks says. Speaking for herself and not any particular group or movement, she adds, “As far as I can tell, public sentiment is largely on our side. This is a real benefit, and it is a rare dynamic when it comes to the sort of organizing that I’m used to doing. Therefore, our main challenge is organizing and mobilizing citizens who are outraged that all of this is happening under our noses without our input or consent. We want to organize in every neighborhood, and for every community to feel like they have a voice.”
Jacks, who helped start Occupy Boston in 2011, urges those who can’t make it tomorrow to hold similar meetings in their communities. “There are many ways we can make our voices heard,” she says. “We are organizing because we are completely shut out of this process that will dramatically impact our lives for the next ten years and then some. It is completely shocking that all of these meetings have been happening behind closed doors and without any input from the community.”
Meanwhile, on today’s media front, the Globe broke out the pompoms yet again, running two separate headlines — one in the print version (“No new public funds needed for Olympics, backers say”), and another online for impressionable kiddies (“Boston bidders hope time is right for frugal Games”) — that leave little doubt the summer games would be the sexiest international ticket since Right Said Fred came to town. A few gems (emphasis ours):
By necessity, the Boston 2024 organizing group is planning a low-cost Olympics that builds as few structures as possible and makes wide use of temporary sports venues.
Critically, Boston’s roughly $4.5 billion Olympic operating budget would be funded without taxpayer money — so promises John Fish, the Suffolk Construction chief leading the effort to land the 2024 Games.
The sales pitch goes on for nine paragraphs before any real dissent enters, though the Globe is getting a bit better in response to residents. If organizers make an impact tomorrow and in coming weeks, there’s little doubt the paper of record, as well as all the sycophantic broadcast news schmucks who follow Globe reporters, will reflect more of the opinions that are likely to be voiced in JP.
“If Boston won’t give the people a voice, we will make our voices heard in the ways we know how,” Jacks says. “We are organized, we have platforms, and we won’t allow the city to pretend that we don’t exist so that they can individually profit off of everything that we stand to lose.”