No, our Olympic dreams didn't collapse because Bostonians are timid little tightwads

Some Globe columnist who isn't Shirley Leung took the time last week to wail about how we coulda been a world-class contenda, if only we weren't such penurious little bastards too scared to dream and spend big.

Not quite, as Evan Falchuk reminds us:

The Olympics died because voters weren't willing to "spend big?" That can't be it: Olympics organizers said, from the beginning, that taxpayers wouldn't have to "spend big," or even at all.

No, the Olympic bid died because Olympic organizers - and their enablers in our government - acted with disdain for democracy and transparency. What broke the back of the Olympics was the fact that we had organized a coalition of citizens to get a binding referendum on the Olympics, and organizers knew their plans couldn't survive the light of day.

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Where is Shirley?

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Maybe I'm not looking closely enough and maybe I haven't been on twitter enough to see her but where's Brian McGrory's golden girl, Shirley Leung? I've seen a couple of "UGH - will you Bostonians get over yourselves!" columns from her in the past couple of months but not much else.

Did the Globe come to its senses and realize she's just not a good business reporter and are trying to find a new place for her?

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Still There

Shirley L wote the "Bostonians of the Year" profile of John Fish and Chris Dempsey together: more recently she's been covering the Channel 7/NBC dispute and some cheerleading for our very popular governor. And you can always follow her on Twitter.

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I really thought you were joking.

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No such luck.

The article is really something to behold. Excerpts:

After its nod from the US Olympic Committee, Boston spent seven months on the world stage, mentioned in the same breath as Paris and Rome as contenders to host the sports extravaganza. Then almost as quickly as we got the go-ahead, we were out of the race, not beaten by a competitor, but suffering a loss brought on by ourselves. Los Angeles eagerly took our spot.

...the discussion identified priorities we can all agree on — the need for a stronger regional transportation system, more middle-class housing, and investment in parts of Boston that have been left behind, such as Dorchester’s Harambee Park and Franklin Park’s White Stadium. Along the way, the bid uncovered opportunities to rejuvenate neighborhoods from Widett Circle to South Boston’s Dorchester Avenue.

Ah, if only we'd written a blank check to Mr. Fish, and relied on his gentle warmth and largess to fix all our infrastructure, housing, and income inequality problems.

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Uh

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My LA-born-and-raised friend's reaction to the Olympics: THANKS A LOT.

So no, I don't think everyone in LA is so eager about this.

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So if you try to steal

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So if you try to steal billions from taxpayers Shirley will name you Bostonian of the year? What a joke.

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Globe Decision

She wrote the article and conducted the joint interview, but it was the Globe editorial decision to name them co-Bostonians of the year. It was, after all the major local story of the year.

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Shirley Leung stil has her job?

Shirley Leung loves business models where costs exceed revenue by $800,000,000 and elected leaders authorize the business venture to require taxpayers to cover the budget risk plus all cost overruns for the $4-$12 billion dollar's worth of construction projects that would take up to 10 years to complete.

You might think a business writer for the Globe would lose their job for that but no.

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Agree about olympics, but...

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I think Horowitz's overall point about spending is worth pondering. Good ol' boy deals like the olympics and the convention center expansion got what they deserved, and Falchuk is right that our investment decisions need much more transparency.

But I think we fall prey to a yankee pessimism (to borrow the term Anthony Flint used in his Big Dig retrospective) that no spending in this state can happen unless it is stuffed with pork and mismanagement.

The solution should not be to stop making important investments, but figuring out how to do them better and cheaper. Most other states seem to be able to occasionally build major projects on time, why not us? The Green Line Extension could be a poster child for trimming up and steamlining an important project, but we are very close to letting it just die on the vine instead. And, frankly, if we can't do a project this simple, what will we be able to do?

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it's not just us

I certainly agree that we should figure out how to make important investments and then how to carry them out efficiently - but I'm not sure Massachusetts is doing any worse than any other state on that front. That's no excuse, of course.

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Actually, MA has a bad rep with the Feds

That's why 93 Fast 14 was taken out of local hands. It was amusing to hear the whining afterword about the lack of kickbacks, too.

Massachusetts isn't the only state with such issues, true - but there are a number of other states where patronage culture is not anywhere near as strong that get more federal money because they don't waste it. I can't see contractors agreeing to, or politicians even negotiating, the kinds of terms that the efficient states operate under (quality and time bonuses with stiff nonperformance penalties).

The biggest part of the problem in MA is that so many different little groups - including cities and towns - sincerely believe that they are owed compensation and cash payouts whenever something is built around or near them. The Feds don't buy any of that anymore, beyond planned and budgeted mitigations.

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It's my fondest dream that

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It's my fondest dream that someone finds a way to put the GLX under federal supervision.

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Different level of oversight

MassDOT did not get to bid out the job, which is why my niece's firm in VT had oversight. They were happy to step in and say that they were running it, but they weren't.

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we are a parochial bunch

I don't dispute that the reason our infrastructure projects are either disastrously bloated or nonexistent is too many greasy palms. My point is just that infrastructure is in shambles across all 50 states, and they all have their own excuses. What a country.

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Citation needed

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Most other states seem to be able to occasionally build major projects on time...

Care to share a few examples?

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And there are Mass. examples

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Probably the biggest being Deer Island, which was completed on time and on budget, even as the Big Dig was going all Big Dig on us. So it is possible here.

Even the MBTA can do it - the Silver Line extension past Airport is, so far, on schedule (it's an interesting contrast to the Green Line extension given that it also involves reuse of an old rail line and construction of new stations).

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Hitting around the head

The solution should not be to stop making important investments, but figuring out how to do them better and cheaper.

Close, but I'd argue that this isn't quite the solution–I'm sure the city and state could easily bring in companies, engineers, etc. that can deliver work that is both efficient and exceptional.

The solution is to get people into power that will do this. We thought we had one in Marty. He even pulled the wool over our eyes by shaking things up at the BRA (minimally, in hindsight) soon after taking office. Hell, I was even naive enough to think we had one in Charlie for a minute with the MBTA shake ups...until he appointed a federal tax evader to lead the fix for a system that is as broken financially as it is physically, and then the panel ultimately just prescribed the same less-for-more "solution" we get every year or two.

Until we find the right leaders, let alone get them into office, the only thing "cheap" around here will be the promises.

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Great point

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I'm sure we can do great things here but when you've got backroom cabal politicians like Deleo, a guy who was a Big Dig insider in Baker and a mayor who's as easily distracted by shiny objects as Walsh, I'm not seeing the necessary leadership.

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Bostonians.... No

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The group of liberal out-of-towners who made up No Boston 2024 are absolutely tightwads.

Keep in mind these people protest primarily as a way to socialize. Its the same people at every protest.

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Aw, still butthurt, are we?

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Assuming you mean the grassroots effort, rather than the more professional No group, it was organized in JP, in part by a woman who at the time lived in JP (she's since moved to another Boston neighborhood). But that's probably not Boston enough for you.

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Marty's cousin - is that you?

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Hi again! Hadn't heard from you in a while.

Did you see them at every meeting because you were at every meeting?

Happy New Year to you and the Teamsters!

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Funny

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I thought it was out-of-town developers and local elites from places like Milton and Weston along with out-of-town construction union members from places like Quincy, Braintree, etc... who really wanted this to happen.

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Here's a tip

Instead of rallying to create an international boondoggle to construct things in a small area for a two week event, get out there and generate energy and rally the population to force KochBaker and the Great And General Court to completely rebuild and expand the transit systems in Boston and regional MA cities, linking them together with heavy rail.

Not as sexy as beach volleyball, but it would be a lasting win for everybody.

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I think we found

one of those Boston2024 interns who was really hoping for one of those sweet, sweet gigs once things go underway. I'm so sorry you weren't able to get your six-figure salary for "public outreach" in the end, since you're clearly doing a bang-up job.

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Interns?

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Nobody was working for free there. Even the Mayor's Chief of Staff's fiance had a nice sweet $100k a year job.

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Oh they had both

Besides the big-money jobs to connected insiders, almost completely focused on public outreach (and which they were so, so, so bad at), they also famously refused to pay their interns. Which is, technically, "not legal" but they never really responded to that charge and then the bid collapsed under its own mediocrity so it became moot.

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and after that failure

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Sara's in charge of the city planning effort. Boston desperately needs planning and a professional office (like every other city) to run it. Instead we get the failed Olympics person. It's just depressing.

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Indeed.

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Yeah, we liberal rabble-rousers are well known for our fiscal conservatism.

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Competence

Forget the arrogance, the disdain for democracy, and the lying. All true, but the major failing of Boston2024 was how bad they were at the things they were supposed to be good at. It is clear they had no idea what they were doing, no real plans, no expertise at creating real plans, etc.

They thought they could get along with leadership comprising a mediocre architect, a local construction magnate, and a professional sports team owner. They had no one in their organization with experience in large scale project management. They had no legal counsel with experience in a host of relevant issues, most importantly environmental law. They hired at least half a dozen PR and marketing firms and either received bad advice or ignored good advice. I could go on.

I argued repeatedly at the time that the biggest critics of Boston2024 should have been people who really wanted the Olympics in Boston. Because this band of incompetents has guaranteed that it will probably never happen.

But don't worry, they'll keep failing up. Manfredi will continue filling Boston with his ugly boxes, and John Fish is now representing the public interest on the Boston Fed board of directors.

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Nope.

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Nope.

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*sigh*

You *do* realize he is reposting recent news/op-eds that the Globe wrote about B24, right? That he isn't creating this out of whole cloth just to make you personally upset?

I find it funny how many anons got/get so mad whenever Adam brings up the various bunglings, bad PR moves, lies, outright fabrications, etc that the MENSA Trust at Boston2024 served out over this past year. It's as if they just can't face the facts and hate being reminded of it.

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MENSA Trust

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Indeed! Thanks for making me snort my coffee!

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Actually, the Olympic bid died because...

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...the USOC said, "Marty, the only way we're going through with this is if you'll put the city on the hook for cost overruns," and the Mayor quite sensibly said, "No way."

As for the rest of this petty squabbling and provincial ankle-biting, I am quite convinced that if the Boston Marathon hadn't started in the 19th century, everyone in Boston today would be utterly against it should someone have tenacity to say, "Hey, why not a Boston Marathon?"

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If you honestly believe this

Actually, the Olympic bid died because the USOC said, "Marty, the only way we're going through with this is if you'll put the city on the hook for cost overruns," and the Mayor quite sensibly said, "No way."

then I guess Marty will be re-elected for the next 10 elections like his predecessor because too many voters have the critical thinking skills of a Chia Pet.

No really, you actually, truly believe that?

Must be one of his staffers, maybe?

Wow.

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Seriously

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Marty would have been more than willing to agree to paying for overruns....if the public was 99% against it. He was fully onboard the Olympic gravy train....until he wasn't.

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Not only the public

It was also clear by the time the Mayor had his press conference that the majority of the USOC had changed their minds about awarding the US bid to Boston. The OP comment is absolutely breathtaking in its denial of reality.

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I personally don't care if Walsh falls through a hole to

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the center of the earth.

I do find it amusing, however, that in our wonderful world of provincialism, simple, verifiable reality can be denied simply because you hate the right people:

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/07/27/boston-2024-olympics-decision-usoc...

As for being on his staff, I've entered City Hall twice in my life, and both times it was to contest parking tickets.

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Facts

Walsh already pledged to cover the costs, as the article above yours makes clear. The fact that you refuse to understand that while believing his sudden announcement that he *wouldn't* sign such a deal only when it became politically expedient (for the very purposes proven here by you) is proof that he made the right call at that moment.

You're simply wrong. Walsh signed the city up for overruns long before you and I ever heard about Boston2024, eagerly and without reservation. Read the Bostinno article and the actual bid documents before you believe what comes out of a lying politician's mouth.

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Marty would have signed anything

Remember when he signed the document saying the city workers wouldn't be allowed to criticize the games?

Either he read the line and didn't think twice until he was called out OR he was willing to sign documents unread. Either way the Olympic bid failed in spirt of Walsh's true desires.

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