Aldermen Move to Protect Chicagoans From Olympic Cost Overruns

Alderman Reilly put out this statement today:

Earlier this summer, when the City Council learned that Mayor Daley planned to sign an Olympic Agreement that could saddle Chicago taxpayers a potential “unlimited” liability for future cost overruns related to the Games, I joined with a handful of my colleagues to sponsor legislation that called upon the Chicago Civic Federation to conduct an expansive, independent financial analysis of the Olympic Committee’s projected revenue and cost estimates as well as the assumptions and methodology used in assembling those projections.

In August, the Civic Federation issued its report.  The report determined that the proposed budget, cost projections, revenue estimates and insurance coverage for the 2016 Olympics will provide adequate protection for local taxpayers.

However, the Civic Federation’s report made it very clear that, while the costs associated with the Olympic Bid are “fair and reasonable” it is critical that there be increased public transparency about Olympic finances and regular reporting of budget and project updates to safeguard taxpayers.

The Civic Federation’s report concluded that City Council mustexercise its oversight role and require regular reporting on the Games’ status, including full public disclosure of budgets, contracts and construction updates.

After intense negotiations over the language of the authorizing legislation, the Chicago City Council unanimously approved legislation that provides significant protections for Chicago taxpayers, in the event the city wins its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The ordinance outlines the following obligations of the Host Committee and City Council and requires that all reporting requirements detailed below must be posted on the Organizing Committee website in an easily downloadable format:

  1. Provide the City Council and general public with detailed quarterly financial reports of all expenditures, revenue, construction costs, and contingency reserve funds, with actual vs. budgeted amounts, and actual amounts submitted to the IOC. Includes an update on construction budgets, schedules and progress. All annual financial audits and reports to the State of Illinois must also be submitted to the City Council.

  2. Regularly update the public regarding compliance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the City of Chicago and the 2016 Committee to ensure community benefit agreements are fulfilled;

  3. Purchase additional insurance policies to ensure taxpayers are protected from potential cost overruns or financing problems associated with the development of the Olympic Village;

  4. Regular disclosure of all Requests for Proposals and Requests for Qualifications, a copy of all final construction contracts, including award amounts and the identifications of contractors and subcontractors, and whether any contract recipient donated to the Organizing Committee;

  5. Organizing Committee must implement a conflict of interest policy for all staff, with public filings by the board of directors and all senior managers;

  6. Grants authority to the City Council to enlist the Office of the Inspector General or other third-party organizations to help the Council scrutinize financial reports, perform audits and conduct independent analyses of all components of the 2016 planning process moving forward.

This Olympics Oversight legislation provides the framework to ensure an open and transparent planning process related to the 2016 Games. However, this ordinance is just one small step. It is absolutely crucial that each member of the City Council remain fully engaged in the Olympic reporting and review process.

Please know that I will demand total transparency and full public disclosure – and will advocate on behalf of fiscal responsibility and budgetary discipline to ensure Chicago taxpayers are protected as the 2016 Games progress.

As always, I will be sure to share updates and financial data with you, as they become available.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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