There is a parable that I can remember hearing in church. The story goes that a man is lying in bed dying. His entire family has gathered at the house to mark the occasion. Sitting at his bedside is his young son who wants to be with his father as much as possible before the father passes on. All the other men are in the living room. All the women are in the kitchen preparing food.
The dying man who is struggling to live smells an apple pie that someone has just taken out of the oven. The dying man musters up enough strength to tell his young son to go to the kitchen and ask his mother to send him a piece of that freshly baked pie. The young boy runs off to do as he is told. He returns minutes later empty-handed and tells his father, “I’m sorry Papa; Mama says the pie is for the funeral.”
I thought about that parable when I read where Mayor Daley has taken it upon himself to sign an agreement before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to possibly put us taxpayers on the hook for the Olympic Games. Like the man in the story, this city and many of its residents are struggling to hold on. We are losing out to unemployment, inflation, crime, lack of resources, over taxation and on and on.
As we ask for things that this city needs now, like streets repaired, quality schools, police protection, snow removal in the winter and street cleaning in the summer, what we get from the mayor is like the mother in the story, we’re told to hold off on our share of the pie until the 2016 Olympic Games. And even when the pie is cut, will we be around to partake in it?
The Games will last only 14 days. But in the meantime, everyone will have their lives affected by the process leading up to them and our pocketbooks will surely be reached into afterward.
We are expected to ignore the fact that the mayor touted how ours would be a privately funded undertaking. Remember that the mayor went and got the Three Negroteers – Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and Barack Obama – to tout Chicago to the IOC. And like the wonderful bait and switch artist that he is, the mayor after baiting the IOC with those millionaires has now replaced them with average folks like you and I to foot the bill. Ain’t that sweet?
Well, here’s something I’d like to see: All those members of Chicago’s 2016 committee, as well as every single alderman and politician that is so gung ho for the Olympics, putting their checkbook and house titles on the line the same way the mayor is putting the rest of us on the line for his Olympic quest. Let’s see how many cost overruns and nephews making millions off of city contracts will go on if everything they own can crumble if the Olympics aren’t a success. Let’s make the mayor sign a lifetime commitment to live in Chicago so that he too will feel the bite long after he is gone from office.
Do I really expect the mayor to personally risk his economic future on the Olympics? Yes, I do. I am tired of those who don’t live the average life always telling the rest of us how to live and what to do and then after leaving office move to some place else to get away from the mess they have created.
The moral to that parable was that you don’t always get what you asked for. And that you might not be around to get what you asked for when it does become available.
Pay attention Chicago. Pay attention!