Point Counterpoint on the 2024 Olympics, Since San Francisco’s Bid Will End Tomorrow, Probably

Let’s start here:

“I truly believe this will advance our long-term interests,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said. “We believe that San Francisco’s 2024 vision of the Olympics is 100 percent aligned with our priorities as we see them today, both as a city and as a region.”

Yeah, sure, hook Ed Lee up to a lie detector and you’d see that he actually believes this statement. Except that it’s not true. Unless he thinks that the 2024 Olympics are worth $10 billion or so of cost overruns. Some would benefit from those overruns but most would not. This process of exaggerating benefits and minimizing costs is what got us in trouble with the disastrous, expensive, deadly, scandal-marred America’s Cup, which, of course, San Francisco declined to repeat.

And I can’t help but think that “2024 vision” sounds a lot like Vision Zero 2024*, another promise that hasn’t a chance in the world of coming true.

“Our mantra really is, ‘Can we host an Olympics and leave the Bay Area better off for having done that?’ ” Strandberg said. “If we can’t, you should hold us to the standard. That’s what we think about every day as we lay out our plans.”

How on Earth would we be able to hold Mr. Strandberg “accountable” post 2024, when we’ll be billions and billions over $4.5 billion? How much skin does he have in the Game? Not much, not much at all.

“It’s not relevant to include Games that were put on by sovereign states like Russia or China and compare them to how you would do something in the United States,” he said. “We’d never look at the Chinese economic system or the Russian political system and say, ‘That’s how we do it here.’ So, why would we assume that is how we would do an Olympic Games here?”

(Sovereign states? Is that some kind of insult? Not really. I wonder what phrase he’s thinking about when he says sovereign state.) In any event, the better comparisons are with London 2012, which overran by about $10 billion and Chicago 2016, which would had overrun by a similar amount. Or Greece? Can we talk about Greece? No, all right. And the reason to include Russia and China has more to do with the IOC, which has a real problem dealing with democracies.

So that’s the SJMN bit. It’s well-written, by Elliott Almond and Mark Emmons

Moving on, to SF Moderates, which used to be called Plan C, which used to be a right side of the aisle political group for gay property owners. It’s expanded its membership lately, but it’s still decidedly on the right side of SF’s political aisle. Begin:

But what if we could defy the naysayers and make it happen? Mayor Ed Lee has initiated the effort, emphasizing that the $4.5 billion price tag will come from private donors. I learned from the Miracle on Ice and from the 2010 Giants and Ashkon that you don’t stop believing just because someone says you can’t win.

So why didn’t we sign up for another America’s Cup? Perhaps the naysayers were absolutely correct? Yep.

The issue for anti-Olympics lobbyists appears to be possible cost overruns, which have averaged over 200 percent per Olympics according to a recent study. The assumption is that taxpayers will be on the hook for the extra $9 billion in average cost overruns. That’s a fair concern.

Oh OK, well, yes, that’s the “concern.”

The requirement is a guarantee of public money to cover cost overruns. There are ways to deal with that if the final bill is the sole concern.

Uh, no there’s not. Are you talking about cost overrun insurance from that Aon company? That’s never going to work. If everybody thinks the taxpayers will be on the hook for $10 billion, then the premium for such a policy would be about $10 billion, right? And if it’s not, then it has a host of exceptions and deductibles and caps and then let’s have future taxpayers pay off the bill.

But, let’s consider another view. There are private donors ready to pump in $4.5 billion into our local economy. How often does that happen? If we say no to this money, are we in a better position to reduce poverty or curb homelessness?

Yes, without the 2024 Olympics, we’ll be in a better position. Were you born yesterday?

While the anti-Olympics lobby eagerly points to the America’s Cup as proof that the Olympics will be bad for San Francisco, what about the San Francisco Giants?

But that stadium was privately financed, right? The IOC would never allow a privately-financed 2024 Olympics.

I hope it doesn’t get derailed by another just say no campaign.

No no no no no. This deal will never work out in the long run. Let’s hope San Francisco loses tomorrow.

*With an admirable goal, but it’s never going to happen. Transportation deaths are a people problem, not an infrastructure problem. Fundamentally.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply