Boston’s Bid for the 2024 Olympics

Every day, the Boston Globe brings new details on the bid—by the private group Boston 2024 Partnership—to bring the Olympics to Boston. The Boston Group beat out Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC for the bid, but public support for the bid is tepid at best.

olympic ringsProponents say the games would boost the city’s economy and really put it on the world’s map (as if it weren’t there already).

Detractors say that traffic would become impossible, that public transportation—especially in light of the recent system’s poor performance this past winter—couldn’t handle the crowds, and that, as with most Olympics games, expenses would mushroom out of control.

Me, I’m torn.

On the one hand, I believe that Boston should go for it, seize the opportunity, and follow the advice of Ezra Pound, who wrote, “When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take – choose the bolder.” (Advice I’ve been trying to follow in recent years.)

On the other hand, I’m afraid that the Olympics would bring out the worst of Boston, as exemplified by the selfish, shortsighted, greedy, small-minded, obtuse, unethical—and sometimes criminal—behavior of the people who in recent years have been “in charge” of bringing casinos and medical marijuana to the state.

In both cases, they’ve done an absolutely terrible job, earning the distrust of citizens across the state. It took three and a half years from voters’ approval of casinos to the opening of the first casino (expected late this month in Plainridge), with uncountable instances of bad behavior along the way.

And it took more than two and a half years from voters’ approval of medical marijuana to the opening of the first dispensary (located in Salem), but from what I can see, the dispensary has nothing to sell, and this is in large part due to the fact that public officials—following their own convictions rather than the will of the people—continue to put up roadblocks.

The most recent roadblock is a regulation imposed by the Department of Public Health stipulating that lead levels in cannabis flowers can be no greater than 212 parts per billion, a level that is nearly 14 times lower than what Connecticut allows and almost 50 times lower than what’s permitted by Colorado. According to several testing labs, this level is so strict that no grower can achieve it. And it’s only that high because the department assumes that patients will ingest an ounce of marijuana a day!

So, as much as I think having the Olympics in Boston would be great, I dread the prospect of living through the shenanigans (to put it mildly) of the people who would be in charge of any aspect of that enterprise. That includes public officials, who would be involved in construction, permitting, transportation and security, as well as private parties, who would be involved in construction, ticketing and more. As recent history has shown, when many people are confronted with opportunity, they think of themselves first.