I hope when you pay your tax bill my fellow Chicagoans, you make sure to thank Mayor Daley and all the Chicago Politicians for providing City Workers to fill space at the Olympic rally. Mayor Daley wants the Olympics so bad he is willing to provide city workers so he can look like he is a big player. Of course many of the City Workers know Mayor Daley is breaking the rules that forbid politics on city time. I think the bosses that asked their underlings to participate in the Obama-Mayor Daley victory dance should be fired. The Inspector General was notified before as union workers were ordered to attend rallies with Rod Blagojevich and Mayor Daley. Many people were also not aware the courthouse at the rally encouraged many trials to shut down early because of safety concerns with Barack Obama. Daley does have power and clout, but asking trials in progress to shut down early? Please read Mark Browns take on the rally. Mayor Daley is very short, how tall is he? Obama is at least a foot taller that Daley, right? (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) . Patrick McDonough
Olympic fervor: From Beijing to Daley Plaza
Chicago and China might not be as far apart as we think
June 8, 2008Recommend (3)
BY MARK BROWN Sun-Times Columnist
A local radio station was carrying a network news story Friday morning about organizers for the Beijing Olympics trying to instruct the Chinese people on how to cheer properly during the upcoming Summer Games, including what to chant and how to clap.
The story was told from a predictable, but understandable, point of view along the lines of: Look at what those crazy, authoritarian commies are up to now; they even dictate how to show enthusiasm.
» Click to enlarge image Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown
Then, the station switched to its local news report, during which it later happened to mention Mayor Daley was back from Athens and would be attending a big pep rally at Daley Plaza to celebrate Chicago making the cut to remain in competition to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
And I thought, hmmm. Let's go see.
Does a city-orchestrated "pep rally" in the middle of the government office complex during the lunch hour have anything in common with the outpouring of support for, say, the Bulls in Grant Park after those championship runs of the Michael Jordan era, or is it more akin to what you'll see in Beijing this summer?
I suppose the question gives away my presupposed notion of the answer.
Obama packs them in
While I don't doubt that a majority of Chicagoans (me included) want to see the Olympics come here, as long as it doesn't cost them more in taxes, it's not as if they can hardly contain their excitement over making the list of four finalists.
I was already on my way out the door when an editor told me there was talk Barack Obama might be there, too. Now, that IS a way to fill a city block with people in a hurry.
Sure enough, half those who came to Daley Plaza were there to see Obama, which I deduce from the fact that half left as soon as he finished talking.
There's no way of quantifying how many of the rest were like the woman from the city's Department of Aging who told Sun-Times reporter Andrew Herrmann that workers in her office had been "invited" to attend by supervisors who "wanted a good crowd" there in support of the Olympics.
But it was apparent City Hall had stacked the deck as much as possible, even before enlisting Obama's star power.
Obama allowed as to how his own attendance was all very last-minute after he was "invited," too, his apparent willingness to jump at the mayor's request, benign as it was, doing little to dissuade those who argue the presidential hopeful is a Daley creation.
When Obama later helped unveil the new city Olympic logo, which replaced the words "Applicant City" with "Candidate City" in keeping with the anal-retentive International Olympic Committee rules, there was no indication anybody in charge saw the irony in this new designation for the hometown of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Subtle message to IOC
Certainly, it can't hurt Chicago's Olympic bid to convey the perception that this candidate for president is eager to help the mayor's effort in any way he can, part of our fully-integrated city.
When I say fully integrated, though, I don't mean that in a racial context -- which I leave to your own powers of observation -- but in terms of management control. International Olympic officials can have full confidence that this city's mayor has complete and total power to get the job done. Everything is wired.
This was demonstrated in a subtle, yet instructive way, by one of the main speakers for the event, Smita Shah, who chairs the city's Delhi Sister Cities Committee. The Sister Cities group was already celebrating its annual festival in Daley Plaza, which made it a perfect backdrop for the "impromptu" Olympics chest-thumping.
Dressed in traditional Indian garb, Shah could have easily been mistaken as just part of the local color demonstrating the city's diversity.
But she also happens to be the founder of an engineering firm that does loads of city business and contributes heavily to Democratic political candidates. Her father, Niranjan Shah, is an even bigger donor through his engineering company.
No. 1 in political game
Smita Shah is a supporter of Obama and was named to the Platform Committee for this year's Democratic National Convention. She also was a big donor to Gov. Blagojevich, who put her on the Illinois Arts Council.
The mayor put her on the city's Plan Commission, where last month she delivered one of the votes to allow the Children's Museum to make its controversial move to Grant Park -- as Daley wishes.
I don't know about those other Olympic contenders, but in this city we've got all our bases covered.
Oh, I forgot to mention that when Obama was introduced, the folks in Daley Plaza started a cheer:
"Yes, we can. Yes, we can."
Unlike those Chinese control freaks, I'm sure it was totally spontaneous.
Obama shows up for 2016 games rally
June 7, 2008
By Andrew Herrmann, Sun-Times News Group
He called his book "The Audacity of Hope."
On Friday, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama was just audacious, telling a Loop rally that he was looking forward to ''wrapping up my second term as president'' by opening the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Chicago.
At a Daley Center Plaza event to mark the city's being named a finalist to host the games, Obama noted that his home is only a few blocks from the site of the proposed Olympic Stadium in Washington Park.
"In the interest of full disclosure, I have to let you know that in 2016, I'll be wrapping up my second term as president. So I can't think of a better way than to be marching into Washington Park alongside Mayor Daley ... as president of the United States and announcing to the world, 'Let the games begin,' '' Obama said.
On a day that a CNN poll showed Obama leading the Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. John McCain, 47 percent to 43 percent, he also compared himself to the first place White Sox and Cubs.
"Your senator, he's winning, too," Obama said, sparking wild cheers from a crowd that filled much of the plaza.
Obama said his stop at the rally was a last-minute decision. Back home to rest after a tough fight to win the Democratic nomination, he has no public appearances on his schedule this weekend.
Joining Daley and other dignitaries, including Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Obama said an Olympics here would be "a capstone of the success we've had during the past couple of decades in transforming Chicago into not just becoming a great American city but a great world city.''
Daley called the other 2016 finalists, Tokyo; Madrid, Spain and Rio de Janeiro "tough competition,'' but said, "what we have here is a spirit.''
The crowd included many city and county workers. One city employee said her department was "invited" to the rally by supervisors who "wanted a good crowd.''
Dianne McCollough, a lawyer with the Cook County state's attorney's office, said she came on her own. An Olympics here would "show the world something positive about Chicago,'' she said.
"So much (news coverage is of) violence and CTA trains derailing,'' McCollough said, adding that an Olympics "shows people at their best.''
In Athens on Friday, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said heads of state will be allowed to help candidate cities make their final pitch.
Obama filmed a greeting for Chicago's Olympic team in the early stages of the bid but called on President Bush to consider boycotting the opening ceremonies in Beijing in protest about Tibet.