Sunday, June 25, 2017

No Boston Olympics: "I think the most important talking point we had was around the taxpayer guarantee."


I think it is important to remember we should never be planning our cities around three-week events, or planning our cities around visitors. We should be planning our cities in a way that will work for decades, and will benefit the residents of the city.

The anti-Olympics grassroots campaign in Boston spent less than $10,000.

How Bostonians Defeated the Olympics, by Shannon Sims (CityLab)

... To find out how a grassroots campaign managed to shut down the Olympic juggernaut, we spoke with Christopher Dempsey, one of the founders of the No Boston Olympics movement, and a co-author of the new book No Boston Olympics: How and Why Smart Cities Are Passing on the Torch. We asked Dempsey, also the director of the nonprofit coalition Transportation for Massachusetts, what happened during the Boston opposition movement, what's up next for potential Olympic host cities, and why he believes that hosting the games under their current arrangement shouldn't be a part of any smart city's plan.


What was the most rewarding part about being involved in this movement?

We had a broad coalition of people who came to us for any number of reasons. Some people were concerned about the taxpayer guarantee, others didn't want disruption to their life for the three weeks, others were concerned about militarization of police and restriction on rights that occurs when hosting mega-events. At our victory party, there were people in socialist alternative t-shirts sharing a beer with people in t-shirts with the Don't Tread On Me flag representing the Tea Party right. We had been able to form an incredibly broad coalition, and that’s something I think doesn't happen enough.

One of the great takeaways here is that we are lucky to live in a democracy where we can have a robust Olympics debate. No Boston Olympics was outspent 1,500-to-1 by the boosters; we spent less than $10,000. But we had the facts on our side and a press willing to tell both sides of the story. I think we are lucky that's the case. The day after the bid was pulled, I received a phone call from the primary backer of the bid [businessman John Fish] and his words to me were, "Democracy worked." That was a pretty profound and gracious thing for him to say.

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