Daley Bows to Pressure Over Bid

Mayor agrees to take Olympic guarantee question before City Council

By Phil Rogers and BJ Lutz
|  Friday, Jun 19, 2009  |  Updated 8:19 AM CDT
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Daley Buckles as Tempers Flare Over Bid Guarantee

At home, tempers were flaring over a taxpayer guarantee that many felt was revealed from thousands of miles away.

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The IOC watched this video promoting Chicago as THE place to be for the 2016 Games.
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Mayor Richard Daley late Thursday agreed to go back before the City Council to seek formal approval from alderman before he signs what has become a controversial host city agreement which would put taxpayers on the hook for any losses the city might incur from the 2016 Olympic Games.

The announcement comes as Daley and his Olympic organizers continued their sales mission at Olympic headquarters in Switzerland.

"The mayor understands the City Council is a critical partner in this endeavor,” Daley spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard said. "They’ve raised concerns. They have questions. So we will put the matter before council again."

At home, tempers were flaring over a taxpayer guarantee that many felt was revealed from thousands of miles away.

Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd) was among those calling for the mayor to come back before the City Council and explain the extent to which taxpayers would be responsible for the Games should they go into the red.

"We're saying that we don't have the money to fix the streets, to fix infrastructure, to stop the layoffs in the city.  yet we're committing outselves, whether it's 2016 making the committment or not, the city is part of 2016," Wauguespack said.

More public dollars are being allocated at a time we are told that they won't be needed, and we'll just have to have them in a fund just in case.

That makes people like community organizer Jay Travis worried.

"I think that's the most disturbing thing, is that taxpayers are not being consulted about these decisions, which would potentially leave our city on the hook for billions of dollars," Travis said.

But not everyone agrees.

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th) said she feels the mayor had to sign the agreement, and said she thinks Chicago could have access to more money than meets the eye.

"The history of this is that once the city is chosen, and it's an American city, the federal government steps in with significant resources to assist."

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