I will say out front, I am not in support of the Olympic Games being held in the city of Chicago. There are too many reasons to list, but I will give you just one to chew on; Our city has not been it's beautiful self for quite some time.
The potholes that pock the city streets are not new, they were here, for the most part, since last winter's tremendous snowfall events took their toll.
The parks that are not located in the loop are starting to show wear and tear for the first time in at least a decade.
Even the beautiful skyline, surely the envy of every (at least American) city, now, squeamishly and humbly, announce our pain due to the economic downturn in the form of "FOR RENT" and "Now Leasing" signs braving the famously brisk wind atop many a skyscraper.
However Chicagoans, there are already a few benefits starting to roll in as a result of our being a serious candidate. Here are a few we can all find solace in:
Governor Pat Quinn (did I really just type those words?) is pushing a bill to extend, by 90 days, the amount of time homeowners can stay in their homes while fighting foreclosure. Does anyone believe that Gov. Quinn would go up against the powerful Financial and Real-Estate lobby's if there was no IOC watching our city for cracks in the foundation?
Me either (read about it here).
Chicago has also started re-paving the lakefront bike paths, for both sides of the city. The new paths are extra-wide, making them useful to walkers, bikers, runners and those tourists just out on a stroll. Of course this was done with the Olympics in mind, but what are they going to do, tear up the pavement if the IOC says no?
So hooray beer, we no longer have to deal with the pedestrian equivalent of the Hillside Strangler at Diversey Harbor anymore. Thank you IOC!
We also got our Buckingham Fountain back. Can you believe it? A large city project finished on time and budget? The fountain that forced me to learn about architecture is back.
As a high-schooler we took a trip to the fountain and, though I had visited almost 2 dozen times before, I spent the day learning about the fountain for the first time. The experience led me to learn, and love, more about Chicago than ever. I have never ceased to learn about our city and have never ceased my very Ike Turner-ish love affair since June morning.
Thank to Mayor Richard Daley wanting to show the fountain off to the visiting IOC, it's back on and more beautiful than ever. Thanks again Olympic folks!
Lastly, let's all thank heavens for the Olympic people getting President Obama to talk about Chicago. Lord knows we haven't heard anything from him about our (AND HIS!!!!!) fair city in quite some time, save for "please send the Olympics to Chicago."
Yes, I know the prior resident at 1600 Pennsylvania left President Obama lots to clean up. Yes, I know we are in the midst of a Depression (he still says recession though). And yes, I know he is busy making google eyes, oops I meant goo-goo eyes at the International community.
However, here are just three reasons our city should be rolling off his tongue these days:
1. Thirty-One (31) Chicago Public School CHILDREN have been KILLED SINCE SEPTEMBER (maybe higher by the time you are reading this). President Obama chose, as the person to lead America's schools to a bright new future, ....................Arne Duncan. A person without an Education degree of any kind, and the former "CEO (yes, the first ever because his educational background and experience did not qualify him to be Superintendent)" of Chicago Public Schools.
He left a huge problem here in his wake, so...don't you think the President, being from the Murder Capitol of the United States, discussing the plight of Afghan schoolkids smacks a bit brittle in the face of what is happening in Chicago.
2. A sitting U.S. Governor has been indicted for trying to sell the Senate seat he vacated to when ascending to the Presidency.
3. His White House Chief of Staff has been named as one of the people said Gov. targeted for kickbacks.
So there are numerous reasons to have President Obama out talking about the City he calls home, it just has not happened. Oh, except for the Olympics.
So Thank You Olympic people! You have already given us more than we could have ever expected on a usual basis. I for one will not be out picketing you, because I am fully aware we Chicagoan's can never repay you for what you have already bestowed.