Olympics likely headed to L.A. – but in 2024 or 2028?

OlympicsAfter a recent International Olympic Committee fact-finding investigation went well, Los Angeles officials are extremely confident that California’s largest city will host a Summer Olympics for a third time after previous turns in 1932 and 1984. They just don’t know if it will be in 2024 or 2028.

The other city that’s a finalist for the 2024 games – Paris – has also impressed IOC evaluators. And with it increasingly difficult to find new cities and nations willing to spend billions of dollars to prepare for the games – Los Angeles and Paris were the only serious competitors for 2024 – the IOC will begin formally considering the idea to simultaneously award both the 2024 and 2028 games at a committee hearing next month. IOC President Thomas Bachappears supportive of picking both cities and bringing the 2028 selection process to an abrupt end.

A final decision is expected on Sept. 13 at a meeting of the full IOC board in Lima, Peru. But with the financial disaster of the 2016 Summer Olympics fresh in memory – the $12 billion tabbankrupted the Rio de Janeiro state government – the attraction of picking and locking down cities with most or all of the needed infrastructure in place is obvious.

The man who helped organize Chicago’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics also sees other factors making a double pick attractive.

“If they don’t select both cities … then you’re going to have two cities, both previous host cities, both major markets for sport and Olympic sport in particular, disappointed. And in the case of the U.S., you’re going to have a series over the past 12 years where the top three cities in the country and three of the top markets in the world have put forth high-quality bids and been rejected,” John Murray, a corporate executive and consultant, told USA Today. “In the case of Paris, [you’re going to have] a world-class city for sport and tradition dating back 100 years and having them be disappointed on a global scale. I think that doesn’t bode well for anybody.”

The Sept. 13 decision could be momentous for Los Angeles in the long run as well. The IOC could begin following a policy like the NFL’s with the Super Bowl and consistently award the Summer Games to a handful of mega-cites – Los Angeles, Paris, London, Beijing – which have hosted previous games.

Democratic Socialists launch late push to derail bid

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and other left-wing groups are trying to mount an 11th-hour campaign to undermine Los Angeles’ Olympic bid. A recent article in The Nation, the progressive publication, celebrated the creation of the NOlympics LA coalition and touted the energy and determination of organizers.

One of them, Los Angeles social justice activist Jonny Coleman, told The Nation, “We oppose the bid on principle. The process is inherently undemocratic and does not take into account the needs of the host city’s residents beyond those who are already rich and powerful, and stand to become even more so from the games.”

But with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and powerful political and business interests in sync in seeking the return of the Olympics, NOlympics LA’s chances seem slim.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Los Angeles Needs Trump’s Help To Get 2024 Olympics

OlympicsAt a time of intense bad blood between the Trump administration and the state of California, a new Legislative Analyst’s Office report stressed the importance of years of local-state-federal cooperation in preparing for a possible 2024 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is vying with Paris to host the games. Budapest, Hungary, withdrew its application a month ago, leaving the two finalists. The International Olympic Committee is meeting in September to formally award the games.

Traditionally, the ability of host cities to count on heavy support from their federal government is considered a crucial point in IOC deliberations. It’s why President Obama traveled to the IOC meeting in Denmark in 2009 in an effort to demonstrate U.S. government support for Chicago getting the 2016 Summer Olympics. The games ultimately were awarded to Rio de Janeiro, but the president’s support was considered important in the run-up to the vote.

Whether Trump will support Los Angeles’ 2024 bid – or whether Los Angeles officials would want his support – is unclear. But the LAO report notes the importance of federal support if Los Angeles succeeds with its bid. Examples:

  • It cited the need for heavy coordination of local and state public safety efforts with federal efforts which will be overseen by the Secret Service and assisted by the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the FBI, the Coast Guard, FEMA and the FAA.
  • It noted the importance of addressing the impact of Trump’s proposed travel ban on individuals from six nations (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). It quoted the U.S. Olympic Committee as saying U.S. officials had promised to “ensure that athletes and officials from all countries will have expedited access to the United States in order to participate in international athletic competitions,” but not the State Department itself.
  • It cited the value to the Olympics of having the president and Congress back Los Angeles projects on the $100 billion infrastructurewish list that Gov. Jerry Brown revealed in February after the Trump administration discussed plans for a long-term $1 trillion national infrastructure program. That includes “expanding and improving the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) purple line, the Metro project to connect the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) central terminal area to the Crenshaw/LAX and green Metro line, and the orange bus rapid transit (BRT) line.”
  • It recommended that federal funding be sought to help deal with extraordinary security demands and noted that the cities of Cleveland and Philadelphia had received $50 million and $43 million, respectively, to deal with the costs of hosting national political conventions in 2016.

Worries about Trump-California friction may be premature

As Politico recently reported, so far the Trump administration has worked well with the state of California on emergency disaster declarations, so perhaps any concern about federal-state friction is premature.

There’s also the possibility that Trump doesn’t serve a second term, which is when most key Olympic preparations will be made.

But with a president as unpredictable as Trump has seemed, friction seems possible – especially given that the list of prominent California Democrats who has had harsh things to say about Trump includes Brown, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and a wide array of House members and top state lawmakers.

Most recently, state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said Monday that the Trump administration’s plan to withhold Justice Department grants to immigration sanctuary cities was “nothing short of blackmail.”

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Olympic Medalists Shouldn’t Be Excused From Paying Taxes

OlympicsLast week Democrats in Sacramento killed a bill by conservative Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee) that would have exempted Olympic medal winners from paying state taxes on their winnings.

The U.S. Olympic Committee gives out bonuses to medal winners — $25,000 for gold medals, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. Your first reaction might be frustration that something to help out our athletic champions was stopped. But let me explain why it is actually good that Jones’ bill did not advance.

While I am glad Jones introduced this bill, as it draws attention to California’s absurd tax rates, we are well past the point where we simply can’t afford any more preferential treatment in our tax codes, federal and state. Period.

Video: For Michael Phelps, 28 medals should be enough

The more narrow the group of people benefitting from treatment that is different than everyone else, the worse public policy it is — and the more immoral it is. I say “immoral” deliberately, because it is not right for government to apply rules and policies differently for different groups and categories of people, especially small groups and narrow categories. It is an insult, an affront to the notion of everyone being created equal under the eyes of God and people being treated equally by their government.

In this case, while the achievements of Olympians are amazing, they are still Americans, and some are Californians. Their heavy tax burden should be alleviated by lowering everyone’s tax burden, not by giving medalists a “carve out” — using government policies to create winners and losers. It’s worth noting they are already winners, American heroes, without special tax treatment.

So called “targeted tax cuts” or narrow tax credits might sound great. Hey, if anyone can be freed from some level of taxation isn’t that a win? And in California, with a liberal legislature guaranteeing that no broad tax relief is on the horizon, should we not push for any tax relief, no matter how narrow?

No. Actually, hell no!

Whether it is saying that an individual consumer product (such as tampons), a type of business (such as just forfilm-making), a type of activity (like just for manufacturing) or for just a particular area in California (enterprise zones), or just for moving to California (Can you say Tesla?) — all of this special treatment in tax policies has a terrible effect on our system of governance.

This pattern of gaming the system for the benefit of only a few has created a culture of corruption that has become so prevalent in our federal and state capitols. Those who benefit or want to benefit from special, narrow, favorable treatment hire well-connected lobbyists (often these are former politicians, advancing the idea that bellying up to the give-away bar means a lucrative payday for modestly paid legislators when they retire). It means big campaign contributions, or big independent expenditures to help those who go along, and to punish those who do not. It means big donations to causes near and dear to the political elite. I could go on.

Of course the inherent big losers in this process are we, the average people. Not only do we typically see little to no benefit from this narrowly targeted tax-code and spending favoritism, but it stands to reason that we are the ones actually footing the bills for the costs associated with all of this mess. Nothing happens for free. When government picks a winner, it creates a loser. Call it a rule of political physics.

I should add that as this system becomes more entrenched, and the number of those who benefit from special treatment grows, a great loss and injury occurs to those of us who would like to see broad reforms — such as across-the-board tax cuts or a move to a flat tax. Every interest that has carved out their “30 pieces of silver” through twisting the current system to its financial benefit now has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. After all, it is very likely a that a company’s tax burden goes up even with lower tax rates if its industry-specific tax credits go away, or whatever the carve out happens to be. Many narrow interests pay little or no taxes at all.

This growing system of corruption rivals ideological liberalism as an impediment to meaningful tax reform. It may be worse as it causes many who believe in tax cuts to hesitate or even create impediments lest the goodies, favors and money stop befitting them!

And so we come back to Michael Phelps (of Baltimore, Maryland, another high-tax jurisdiction). No one has earned more Olympic Gold than he. He is looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses from just the Rio Games alone. But are his victories more worthy of government favor than than the hard work of a police officer, or a soldier? How about an emergency room doctor? Or perhaps an elementary school teacher? Of course not.

It is broad tax relief that would make us all gold medal winners.

ublisher of the FlashReport

Originally published at Breitbart News and FlashReport.

Los Angeles is U.S. choice to host 2024 Summer Olympics

As reported by the L.A. Daily News:

Los Angeles was picked Tuesday as the U.S. bid city for the 2024 Summer Olympics, despite numerous questions over event costs and the logistics of housing thousands of international athletes.

With the selection, Los Angeles joins Rome, Hamburg and other cities in vying for the games, which bring worldwide attention and tourism dollars to host cities but also carry monetary risks.

Against the backdrop of a Santa Monica beach, U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun announced the selection of the nation’s second-largest city for the 2024 Games, thanking Los Angeles “for standing up once again as America’s bid city. …”

Click here to read the full story

Can L.A. Afford Another Olympics?

Boston bailed on hosting the 2024 Olympics when Mayor Martin Walsh refused to sign a host city contract with the United States Olympic Committee (“USOC”) that would have put Beantown (and possibly the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) on the hook for any cost overruns associated with this 17 day extravaganza. But Walsh’s refusal to mortgage Boston’s future was understandable given the unfavorable economics associated with this over hyped event.

According to an article in Harvard Magazine, “A Fiscal Faustian Bargain” by Professor Andrew Zimbalist, perhaps the foremost analyst of public investments in sports facilities and global athletic competitions, the cost is expected to exceed $15 billion.  This includes operating costs during the games, the construction of new venues, infrastructure improvements and security.

However, revenue expectations from the media rights, domestic and international corporate sponsorships, ticket sales, licensing agreements and “other” revenues are projected to be less than $5 billion.

This shortfall of more than $10 billion horrifies frugal New Englanders, so much so that a referendum banning the expenditure of public funds was favored to pass next year.

The last minute withdrawal of Boston’s bid to represent the USA has put the USOC in a difficult position because it must submit its proposal to the International Olympic Committee by mid-September. A final decision by the IOC is due in September of 2017.

The question for the USOC is whether it will submit a bid to host the 2024 Olympics, and, if so, which city.

In January, Boston was selected over L.A., San Francisco and Washington, D.C.  But even then, everybody knew that Los Angeles was the best place to host the 2024 Games.  We have an existing infrastructure: the Coliseum, the Rose Bowl, Staples, Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium, USC, UCLA and many other quality sporting venues.

We have a captive audience of 20 million people in Southern California and a history of supporting our teams and the most successful Olympics ever in 1984.

But does L.A. have the financial resources to pull off an Olympics where our cash strapped city is not responsible for operating losses, cost overruns, and excessive infrastructure improvements?

This will obviously be a concern for Angelenos as it was in the early 1980’s when the voters approved a charter amendment banning the use of public funds to support the Olympics.

More than likely, City Hall will leap at the opportunity to host the 2024 Olympics, touting all the great benefits that will accrue to all Angelenos. While some these claims may well be true, we must remember that today’s politicians will be termed out of office and long gone by the time the bill comes due.

Another Freeway Olympics would be a great event for the city, the county, and all of Southern California. But before the city puts in any bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games, we need detailed financial information as well as ironclad assurances that our city – which cannot afford to repair and maintain its streets and sidewalks or properly fund its pension plans – and the taxpayers are not on the hook for any expenses unless they are approved in advance by the voters.

Let the games begin.

Originally published by CityWatchLA

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and a member of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds – www.recycler.com. He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com

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