Chicago Tribune: Boat owners warned: Don’t make waves over Olympics rowing plan

Chicago Tribune:

Boat owners warned: Don’t make waves over Olympics rowing plan

Yacht club group tells members it fears retaliation from city if they protest proposal for Monroe Harbor

By Laurie Cohen, Kathy Bergen and David Heinzmann

Tribune reporters

February 12, 2009

Lots of boaters are unhappy with plans to use Monroe Harbor as the rowing venue for the 2016 Olympics should Chicago win the Games, but you won’t hear many complaints.

The Chicago Yachting Association, an umbrella group for 15 yacht clubs in the Chicago area, has asked members to keep a lid on it, noting in a memo obtained by the Tribune that yacht clubs “are vulnerable to retribution.”

Mayor Richard Daley’s office and the Chicago Park District have made it clear “that they do not wish to talk about issues that may be confrontational until after October 2009,” according to the memo by an association committee charged with formulating an approach to the city’s Olympic plans.

City officials say they aren’t trying to stifle dissent before Oct. 2, when the International Olympic Committee, which values popular support, selects a host city. But critics of the bid, from parks activists to concerned taxpayers, believe boosters have worked to suppress public criticism and withhold potentially controversial information.

The three-year Chicago campaign to win the Summer Games has been a study in how to carefully control the flow of information, with details parceled out only to the extent required to satisfy Olympic officials. The team has cited the intense competition among the finalists, which include Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo, as a reason for keeping portions of its playbook private.

But critics want more information. The bid campaign “is not a very transparent process, and that makes it frustrating for us,” said Peggy Brennan, vice commodore of the historic Columbia Yacht Club, who wants more details on how use of Monroe Harbor as the rowing venue would affect boaters.

“When taxpayer dollars are involved, you’d like to be a little more transparent on these things,” said Allen Sanderson, who teaches economics at the University of Chicago.

Now, in formal bid documents due Thursday, Chicago and its rivals had to answer an extensive battery of tough questions from the IOC. The bid team has been saying for months that its book, to be released publicly in Chicago on Friday, will answer many remaining questions.

But other significant questions that aren’t required to be addressed will continue to go unanswered, including an accounting of donations to fund Chicago’s nearly $60 million effort to win the Games, information that would show who pitched in the most for one of the mayor’s favorite causes.

Chicago-area residents, while largely supporting the bid, doubt some of the city’s claims. A Tribune poll this month found that many Olympics supporters, as well as a vast majority of those opposed to bringing the Games here, don’t buy Daley’s pledge that private funds would cover nearly all the costs.

So far, the city hasn’t been quick to own up to the financial risks taxpayers would have to bear. Over time, it became known the city would make a variety of commitments, from a $500 million guarantee against the potential of operating losses to picking up the cost of city services and purchasing the site for an Olympic Village, for ultimate resale to a private developer.

Visit to continue reading this article.


15 February 2009 | Burnham Park Yacht Club, Chicago Yacht Club, Columbia Yacht Club, Jackson Park Yacht Club, Law, Politics and Government, Olympics | Comments

Leave a Reply


Leukemia Cup Regatta -












 ...a cool website for everyone who wants to sail fast...