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Steve Donkin, Candidate for the Statehood-Green Nomination for 
Mayor in the September 10, 2002 Primary Election
Flyer on Olympics 
June 2002

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Cartoon of steamroller, captioned stop DC 2012 Olympic Bid




When will somebody in Washington come to his senses? is there anyone out there not blinded by Olympic greed? Is there anyone who will step up and say that ibis notion of playing host to the 2012 Summer Olympics in the Washington-Baltimore region is a bad idea for most of the people who will have to live with the promises made and the money spent? Who will step up and say, before this goes too far, that we should let the people of Washington decide if they want the 2012 Olympics? — Tom Loverro, sports columnist, in The Washington rimes, February 14, 2002

The Olympic Gaines used to be the model of competitive sportsmanship and a source of hope and inspiration to billions of people. Now, unfortunately, the games have been reduced in the eyes of their host cities to corporate Christmas trees on which are hung every private developer's pet project, from monolithic stadiums to high priced hotels, often funded by huge taxpayer subsidies. Sadly, D.C.'s current government stands ready to sell out our city for such boondoggles, which will burden the residents with debt and destroyed neighborhoods long after the Olympus have left town. — Steve Donkin, D.C. Statehood Green Party candidate for mayor

The District government should put additional money and efforts not into the Olympus but into building up the University of the District of Columbia as something that will have a lasting effect on the community All the past Olympic public-private partnerships have been all about the community giving and the business interests taking. — John Gloster, Ward 8 D.C. Statehood Green Party activist

Before the city spends one public dime on the Olympics, we need a full-service public hospital. Reopen D.C. General. — Adam Eidinger, D.C. Statehood GreenParty candidate for U.S. Representative

Communities in D.C. are being denied their right to self-determination. It is the ultimate insult that our school and health care budgets are being cut, while huge sums of public dollars are given away, without our input, to fund projects that will not benefit local people. D.C. has a long history of displacing residents under the guise of revitalization — just think back to the "urban renewal" wholesale demolition of Southwest D.C. Gentrification is causing displacement throughout the District, and the communities around the Anacostia River are threatened by a litany of development projects being pursued by the Williams Administration. The Olympics is simply a way to "fast forward" the process of displacement, and public financing of unwanted development projects. — Parisa Norouzi, D.C. resident and activist

How many homes and small businesses will be taken to accommodate venue building and road building for two weeks of spectacle? The poor, the homeless, the most vulnerable will suffer to benefit multinational corporations and local developers hell-bent on gentrification at the expense of the city's lower and moderate income citizens. We don't know the full impact the Olympus will have on our city because its advocates and our pliant elected officials won't tell us. — Thomas Smith, native Washingtonion, D.C. Statehood Green Party activist

Can you imagine what would happen to civil liberties if the Olympics were held here? Large areas of the city would be off limits. Political demonstrations would be restricted. More roads and public buildings would be shut down. Homeless people would be harassed. People carrying suitcases or briefcases or who "look suspicious" would be subject to search. Is this something we really want? — Gail Dixon, former member D.C. Board of Education, D.C. Statehood Green Party activist

With the hope of enticing major projects to our city, much needed money is diverted from our schools, libraries, recreational centers and social service programs to large corporations that are more than capable of paying their own way. If these same methods are used to win our 2012 Olympic bid, I worry that the damage to these essential city programs will be devastating. — Tom Briggs, Dunbar High school teacher

The United States acts as the champion of freedom and democracy around the world, yet we deny both to the citizens in our nation's capital. The Olympics Charter includes promotion of the "preservation of human dignity." If Washington, D.C. is selected as the 2012 summer site, citizens committed to the principle of self-government will make the case for the next 10 years in the world court of public opinion that we, ourselves, are in violation of the spirit of the Olympics Charter. What is now a national disgrace may well become the subject of international ridicule. — Dennis Jaffe, citizen activist

Ideas for projects like stadiums, convention centers, and the Olympic bid come from corporate planners, from the elite members of the Federal City Council, the Board of Trade, the fatcat development, real estate, hotel and other out-of-town lobbies that prop up politicians like Mayor Williams with big campaign checks. When you hear the Mayor's "One City" slogan, think about what it really means: schemes to divert taxpayers' money into handouts for wealthy cronies, privatize public resources and services, and turn D.C. into a feeding trough. — Scott McLarty, Statehood Green Party media coordinator

Olympic Bid Is Following Grand Prix Races Pattern

You may have read in the Washington Post in the spring of 2002 how the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission and city officials pushed through the July 2002 Grand Prix auto races at RFK Stadium-without ever holding a public hearing, conducting an environmental mental impact statement, or asking stadium neighborhood residents what they thought about noisy, polluting vehicles racing around their neighborhood in the middle of the sweltering summer.

Well, they're doing it again with the D.C. area bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. Mayor Williams cheerleads for the Olympic bid, but keeps the citizens in the dark as to what the real fiscal and quality of life impact will be. The D.C. Council sits on its hands, refusing to hold public hearings on this potential huge project that will have a substantial fiscal and social impact on D.C. residents. None of citizens' real concerns are answered in the advocates' press releases. Is all this secrecy because, as the San Francisco Bay Guardian reported in September 2001: "The truth is, the Olympic Games have always been a bad thing for the region that hosts them. They involve massive long-term changes to regional infrastructure to accommodate a two-week influx of tourists and athletes." And as Toronto University sociology professor Helen Jefferson Lenskyj, author of Inside the Olympic Industry, put it, the Olympic reality is that "the whole agenda is dominated by multinationals."

No Public Hearings, No Sense Of Priorities

Nobody — not Mayor Williams, not the D.C. Council, not Washington DC 2012 (the bid committee for the Washington/Baltimore region), not the autonomous D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission — has asked D.C. citizens, generally, or residents in the most affected neighborhoods, if they want the Olympics. There have been no public hearings on the desirability (or lack thereof) of holding the Olympics here. Why is our D.C. Council so timid? One council member has said the council could hold hearings if the city is chosen by the U.S. Olympic Committee as the U.S. bid city later this year. By then, it will be too late. In a time of tight budgets - when the old Control Board and Mayor Williams shut down the District's only public hospital (D.C. General), when elected officials slashed the schools system's capital budget and cut library hours, and when the city's school sports and recreation programs are severely underfunded — should we really be committing city funds and resources to a major undertaking that will in no way benefit education, health care and other key services and pressing needs of the city's residents?

No Cost Estimate Of Public Funds

Nobody has told the citizens how much in taxpayer funds the Olympics would cost us. Where is the money going to come from? Do not be misled by the "advocacy economics" of the Washington DC 2012 bid committee, or claims by some city officials that the Olympics is some sort of free lunch. Nowhere in modern Olympic history has this been the case for any host city. Larry Keating, associate professor of urban planning at Georgia Tech, estimated in his recent book on Atlanta that the 1996 Olympics cost Atlanta taxpayers $1 billion in hidden costs. An independent audit by the state of New South Wales in Australia reported that the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics cost taxpayers in that country $1.5 billion (in U.S. dollars). A.D. Frazier, the man who led the fundraising effort for Atlanta's successful 1996 bid, was quoted in the press in June 2000 as estimating that a successful bid for the 2012 Olympics "could cost $3 billion" in public funds over and above what the corporate sponsors kick in. And Mitt Romney, president of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, told The New York Times in January 2002: "I do know that it [the Olympics] is not a moneymaking proposition for the community" Federal taxpayers are not spared, either. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), citing General Accounting Office studies, noted that the 1996 Atlanta Olympics cost federal taxpayers $609 million and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics cost the federal treasury an estimated $1.3 billion. McCain called this latter figure "staggering" and amounted to "the American taxpayer being shaken down."

Economic Benefits Grossly Exaggerated

Advocates in every bid city always claim that the Olympic Games will spark an increase in tourism and provide a sharp boost for the local economy during the Games. Evidence suggests otherwise. According to columnist Neil deMause in The Village Voice, University of South Florida economist Philip Porter scrutinized tourism figures for Atlanta in July and August 1996 when the Olympics were in town-for consumer sales, hotel occupancy rates, and airport usage-and found "no notable differences from a typical Atlanta summer." The only spin-off Porter found was a boost in hotel room rates which did little for the local economy since "the money immediately leaks out of your community" because the major hotels are nationally owned. In Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter Olympics, many local business, restaurants, ski resorts-reported a decline in trade because, as the Financial Times reported, "many residents have taken holidays in order to avoid the games" and the number of locals who left town "have not been replaced by visitors staying in the city." The Salt Lake City mayor even made a public plea for local residents to come downtown to patronize shops and restaurants that were hurting for customers during the Olympics. In the 2000 Games in Australia, "the government lost more than $100 million, and a number of businesses that were counting on promises of gold instead were lit in financial straits," reported Thom Loverro in The Washington Times.

What Will Social, Environmental Impact Be?

Nobody has told the citizens what impact the Olympics would have on the environment, traffic and quality of life. No environmental impact study has been undertaken. Will air quality worsen (as in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics)? Will any houses or businesses be torn down (as happened in Atlanta where an estimated 30,000 low-income residents were evicted as 10,000 housing units were lost to accommodate the 1996 Olympics, including 4,000 public housing units that were razed)? Will thousands of homeless people be shuttled out of town and thousands more arrested (as also happened at Atlanta's Olympics under an Orwellian-named project called "Homeward Bound")? Will roads and parking lots have to be built? Is our planning to be dictated by Olympic needs, rather than the community's needs? Wit pressing needs or underfunded services will the District of Columbia and neighboring jurisdictions have to defer or cancel in order to fund the 2012 Olympics? As The Washington Post reported in a February 17, 2002 article on the District's chances for the 2012 bid, ". . .few other than the bid organizers grasp the power of the Olympics to consume a region, demanding a massive civic and governmental commitment to build sports venues, construct roads and provide security"

Olympic Games Spur Gentrification

Charles Rutheiser, professor of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University and author of the book Imagineering Atlanta told The Village Voice that the 1996 Olympics "allowed the downtown gentrification Atlanta business leaders had long sought." In the same vein, Anita Beaty, head of the Atlanta Taskforce for the Homeless, said: "The developers use the Olympics as the biggest development project they've ever had an opportunity to engage in. And then it's a steamroller. It keeps rolling."

Security Costs Alone — $1 Billion-plus?

Nobody has bothered to whisper to the citizens how much having the Olympics in D.C. would cost just for security alone. But we know from a General Accounting Office report and the press that security for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games cost U.S. taxpayers more than $300 million. Ten years from now, in a city that has many more potential targets than Utah, what will that figure be for just two weeks? D.C. is already in a lockdown mode in the aftermath of September 11, with all sorts of street and building closings and restrictions

on citizens' movements. Can you imagine how much of the District of Columbia will be off limits during the Olympics? During the Salt Lake City Games, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld noted (as reported in the Financial Times), "there were more troops in the Salt Lake City area to prevent a possible terrorist attack than in Afghanistan." The newspaper added, "it is clear that the high profile security presence has deterred locals from staying in the city" as well as keeping many visitors away. As Thom Loverro noted in his sports column in The Washington Times (February 14, 2002), if the Winter Olympics "staged in 2002 in the middle of nowhere" cost more than $300 million for security, "what will it cost for security in the Washington-Baltimore area 10 years from now for the much larger Summer Games? How about $1 billion?"

Unaccountable Bodies Drive The Bid Process

Unelected, unaccountable organizations, operating in secrecy, drive the Olympic Games bid process. Washington DC 2012, the bid committee for the Washington region, is an entirely private group representing the business elite of the city. The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission is an autonomous body over which the D.C. Council has nominal oversight authority but which, in actual practice, it never exercises. So, the commission goes its merry way, working secretly behind the scenes with business interests to bring the Olympics, Grand Prix races, and new baseball and soccer stadiums to the District of Columbia without ever having to ask local citizens if they want any of these things. As a May 31, 2002 Washington Post editorial commented, the sports commission "is virtually a law unto itself" and asked if the city had "created a monster." The editorial added, "the imperial Sports and Entertainment Commission — thanks to pliant elected leaders — never had it so good." Then we have the U.S. Olympic Committee, an independent private sector entity that makes the decision as to which U.S. bid city will be the U.S. nominee to be the host city. The USOC conducts all of its business with bid cities entirely in secret and does not seek out the views of the public but talks only to those business elites promoting their city's bid. Even the schedule of events during the USOC's visits to bid cities are kept secret. And towering over all of these unaccountable, unelected groups is the International Olympic Committee that makes the final decision on which bid city in the world gets to host the Olympic Games. Ordinary citizens have no voice in the process.

Stop This Secrecy Over The Olympics Bid!


CALL MAYOR WILLIAMS (202) 727-2980 · CALL COUNCIL MEMBERS (202) 724-8000

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