With the Olympics bid facing increasing questions from the public, the Gazette checked in with all 13 Boston city councilors to see where they stand.
Only six councilors were willing to comment. All of them have a position of “maybe” to hosting the Olympics, but with varying degrees of enthusiasm and skepticism.
The councilors who did not respond include: Charles Yancey (District 4), who represents part of JP; Council President Bill Linehan (District 2), who heads the council’s Olympics special committee; Michael Flaherty (At-Large); Tito Jackson (District 7), Stephen Murphy (At-Large); Frank Baker (District 3); and Salvatore LaMattina (District 1).
Matt O’Malley, District 6
The councilor who represents most of Jamaica Plain, O’Malley was an early booster of the bid. He told the Gazette last week that his full support for the Games would be dependent on thorough study with favorable results.
“I’ve always said we should explore it and have a robust feasibility study,” he said. “I still maintain that. But I’ve been extremely disappointed with Boston 2024, in the roll-out, with the secrecy that has clouded the early steps.”
He said he still has “many concerns,” including cost, that he has heard echoed in the community.
“If it doesn’t make sense for us, we should not pursue the bid,” he said.
O’Malley said he supports efforts by Councilor Josh Zakim and United Independent Party Chairman Evan Falchuk to place ballot questions regarding the bid. Zakim proposes four non-binding questions for this fall’s City election, while Falchuk proposes a binding question about spending taxpayer money on the bid. Falchuk’s question would not appear on a ballot until fall 2016, after the final-draft bid submission to the International Olympics Committee.
Zakim was notably left off the council’s Olympics special committee by Council President Bill Linehan. O’Malley, who is on that committee, said he disagrees with that even though Zakim can still attend its hearings.
“Every member of the body should be seated on the [Olympics] committee, as the potential Olympics would be impactful on every district,” O’Malley said. “I made a particular plug to ensure Councilor Zakim would be seated on that committee.”
Ayanna Pressley, At-Large
“My job is to advocate for what is best for this city, and to date, I do not believe the case has been made that the benefits of the Olympics outweigh the costs to the residents and neighborhoods, Pressley said in a written statement provided by her chief of staff, Jessica Taubner. “In order to for me to get to yes, I need to understand where our neighborhoods, our residents and our schools fit into the proposal and the legacy.”
Pressley said that must include a “real plan” for affordable housing and “ensuring that the Olympics will not displace our residents and the most vulnerable among us.” There must also be a “clear diversity and inclusion plan,” she said.
“Finally, I want to be sure that the city is prepared for the by-products of hosting a mega sporting event, like sex trafficking and police surveillance,” Pressley said.
Pressley said she supports Zakim’s ballot question effort.
Michelle Wu, At-Large
Wu told the Gazette that she has also “not been convinced it’s a good idea.”
“I’m keeping an open mind, but it will be coming down to seeing actual language concerning financing guarantees and affordable housing,” she said. “I’m supportive of new ideas, but I’m looking to see that in writing and in detail.”
Josh Zakim, District 8
Zakim has called for four non-binding ballot questions for Bostonians to weigh in on the bid. His office told the Gazette this week that his opinion has not changed from earlier this year, when he issued a statement calling for more public input.
“I applaud Boston 2024 for bringing its proposal for the Boston Olympics into the community for public discussion and scrutiny, but the people of this City deserve even more,” Zakim said in that statement. “Bostonians need the chance to have their voices heard collectively and on the record. The scope and scale of this project are too large to bypass the democratic values that we as a City hold so dearly.”
Timothy McCarthy, District 5
McCarthy is still “seeking as much information” as possible, his Chief of Constituent Services, Walter Apperwhite, told the Gazette last week. The councilor is “hearing all sides” before making a decision on whether to support the bid, Apperwhite said.
Mark Ciommo, District 9
Chief of Staff Mark Handley only said that Councilor Ciommo is open to the Olympics and supports further investigation.