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Letter To Charlie Baker: Choose Mass. Priorities Over Olympic Parties

Republican Gov.-elect Charlie Baker pictured on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (AP)
Republican Gov.-elect Charlie Baker pictured on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (AP)
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Editor's Note: This morning, No Boston Olympics, a group that opposes a Boston bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, is sending the following letter to Gov.-elect Charlie Baker. No Boston Olympics shared the letter with Cognoscenti exclusively.

Dear Gov.-elect Baker,

Congratulations on being chosen by the voters of Massachusetts to lead our Commonwealth. We know you will bring energy, focus and thought to the role.

You have begun to formulate plans and assemble a team that can accomplish the goals you talked about on the campaign trail: bringing prosperity to every corner of the Commonwealth, improving our public education system, streamlining regulation and helping foster the creation of new businesses and jobs. We share your passion for making Massachusetts great, which is why we are reaching out today.

There are many weighty issues that will require executive action when you take office on Jan. 8, but one decision that will have a significant impact on your time as governor must be made before you even take office.

An Olympic bidding process would overwhelm our civic conversation.

At a formal meeting, expected to be held before you are sworn in, the United States Olympic Committee is poised to select Boston as the sole U.S. bidder for the 2024 Summer Olympics. As governor-elect, you must decide before then whether you want your first term to be defined and dominated by a bidding process for a three-week party that would be thrown after you will have left office.

As a former secretary of administration and finance, you understand what a Boston bid would entail. The Worcester Telegram’s editorial opposing the bid pointed out, you were “far more cautious” than Attorney General Martha Coakley when asked about hosting the Games during the debates, and said you would not take a stance until you saw “more numbers.” That’s the fiscally prudent approach and one we support. Unfortunately, even as this major decision looms, Boston’s Olympic boosters said in a recent Boston Globe article that it’s too early for details to be shared publicly. But if the USOC selects Boston, won’t it be too late? As the sole U.S. bid, you, the mayor and other civic leaders will be under immense pressure from national and corporate interests to submit a bid that could win — even if this bid is not in the interests of Massachusetts taxpayers and voters.

An Olympic bidding process would overwhelm our civic conversation. Instead of talking about affordable housing, we will talk about an Olympic Village; instead of talking about building new schools, we’ll focus on building stadiums we don’t need; instead of competing for new businesses to locate in our state, we’ll be competing for the affection of the unelected, unaccountable IOC; instead of supporting today’s innovation economy, we’ll be fixated on three weeks of events nine years away.

If the USOC chooses Boston, in late 2016, boosters will present you with the official IOC bid documents, which require that you sign a contract that calls for the costs of the Games to be “entirely assumed, jointly and severally, by the Commonwealth and the Organizing Committee.” This is the blank check that every region must sign when it submits its bid — and it is the document that commits the Commonwealth’s taxpayers to covering any cost overruns, no matter the amount.

It is clear that you understand the weight of this decision and you respect the faith that Massachusetts voters have placed in you to guide the Commonwealth over the coming four years.

It is clear that you understand the weight of this decision and you respect the faith that Massachusetts voters have placed in you to guide the Commonwealth over the coming four years. We ask that you side with the majority of Globe poll respondents who opposed the games when asked to balance it with the Commonwealth’s priorities.

We look forward to speaking with your administration about this critical issue, but, given the timing, we respectfully request that, before it’s too late, you place a call to Larry Probst, the chair of the United States Olympic Committee. Tell him you will not sign a document that leaves Massachusetts taxpayers on the hook for a $10-20 billion Games. This would be a clear signal that your administration is dedicated to the "smarter, better, more efficient government" promised during your campaign, and would communicate to the IOC that the Commonwealth has far bigger and more important priorities than throwing a three-week party.

Sincerely,

Chris Dempsey
Co-Chair, No Boston Olympics


Related:

Chris Dempsey Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Chris Dempsey is co-chair of No Boston Olympics.

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