JP officials voice Olympic doubts and questions

Several local elected officials are expressing doubts and calling for more details on Boston’s Olympics bid following the first public meetings hosted by Mayor Martin Walsh and the Boston 2024 bid committee. While the City Council is forming an Olympics subcommittee, it appears JP’s State House leaders will let Boston 2024’s own meetings serve as the discussion venue.

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz continues to take a skeptical approach, as she previously told the Gazette in December.

“I’m skeptical but open-minded,” she said in a recent Gazette interview.

Noting that she holds a “high standard for protection of taxpayers,” she said her support would be dependent on the hiring of minority- and women-owned businesses and “very clearly articulated bites of apple” as to expenditures.

“First and foremost,” she said, she wants to know that taxpayers “won’t be on the hook for cost overruns.”

“I’m not ruling out the possibility that Boston 2024 or the U.S. Olympic Committee could meet those standards if they really want to, but the burden of proof is on them,” she said.

State Rep. Liz Malia, meanwhile, called herself a “skeptic” and questioned the public process about the bid.

“I’m not from Missouri, but it’s like, ‘Show me,’” she said. “I’m not afraid of having the conversation, but there’s so little process so far in terms of transparency that it makes me nervous that people who don’t live [in] and depend on the community are the ones thinking this up.”

“There’s potential, and I don’t want to be totally negative, but I don’t know enough to say I trust this process,” she said. “And if nothing else, what happened with the MBTA and the snowstorms should be a discussion point.”

State Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez declined to engage with the Olympic question at all, suggesting it is a distraction.

“There are shootings in Bromley-Heath. We’re dealing with a drug epidemic. I’m trying to figure out what the world will look like with a new legislature,” he said. “My Olympics are what’s going in my community and how these big ideas affect those areas were we are having the biggest problems.”

“They just started the public process now. Let’s see what [the bid organizers] have to say,” he added.

State Rep. Russell Holmes could not be reached for comment.

The Boston City Council is in the process of forming a subcommittee to review the Olympics plan. It is also considering a proposal by Councilor Josh Zakim to put non-binding questions about the bid on the November ballot.

City Councilor Matt O’Malley, an early booster of the Boston Olympics idea, told the Gazette last month that he is for “exploring the possibility.”

“We’re at a point now where we have a strong opportunity to make sure this is done well and efficiently, without using public funds for stadiums or other venues,” he said. “I think this could potentially be a great thing for the city. If it turns out it’s not, we shouldn’t do it. But we should have the conversation.”

City Councilor Tito Jackson, who represents part of Egleston Square, compared winning the bid to getting accepted into college.

“You get accepted, but then you have to look at the financial package. It’s great that we got into Harvard, but can we pay for it?” he said. “It’s an amazing honor. I think we can do it justice. But the question is, should we?”

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